If honking horns or a snoring partner keep you awake, you already know what science has confirmed — noise adversely affects sleep quality and health.
It has even been shown that newborns of low birth weight gained more weight and performed better developmentally when they were given earplugs to block out external sound.
High-quality earplugs are a simple fix for this problem since they reduce noise significantly.
No earplug is designed to block out noise completely, so you won’t have to worry about sleeping through your alarm clock or an emergency.
How we chose
We zeroed in on some of the best earplug options out there by considering a range of prices, materials, and designs. We looked at features such as comfort, ease of use, and most importantly, noise reduction ability.
Noise reduction rating (NRR) is an average reduction of noise with directed use in laboratory tests. We include an NRR with the products listed below — the more decibels the product has, the better it is at sound canceling.
We analyzed the claims made by each product manufacturer and contrasted them with user critiques and reviews to provide you with accurate information.
Read on and get ready for your best night’s sleep.
Healthline’s picks for best earplugs for sleeping
Flents Quiet please Earplugs
Low-tech foam earplugs are still considered by many to be the most effective type at blocking out noise. To use foam earplugs effectively, you’ll need to fit them appropriately in your ear. This internal positioning is what makes them so effective.
Flents Quiet Please Earplugs are cylindrical with flattened sides. These foam earplugs are designed to lie flat inside the opening of the ear, making them a more comfortable choice for side sleepers.
They get high marks for being malleable and expandable, making them a good choice for most ear canal sizes. Since they don’t taper at one end, they may provide a more thorough seal when inserted in the ear. You might also find you dislike that amount of pressure further into your ear.
Like all foam earplugs, only use them once, to eliminate the buildup of bacteria.
Howard Leight MAX-1 Foam Earplugs
For people with wide ear canals, these foam earplugs may provide a better fit than other foam types. They are bell-shaped and contoured to stay in place.
Howard Leight brand earplugs are designed to provide hearing protection for people who work around loud noises and industrial environments. So these earplugs also feature a fairly high NRR of 33 decibels, making them a good choice for blocking out loud parties and other noises.
Like all foam earplugs, they’re designed for one-time use.
Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs
Unlike foam earplugs, “putty” earplugs cover the outer opening of the ear, instead of plugging the ear canal. This makes them more comfortable for people who find foam earplugs irritating, itchy, or too pressurized.
Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs have an NRR of 22 decibels, and, according to the manufacturer, are best suited to reduce constant background noises rather than sharp bursts.
They’re easy to mold to your ear opening’s shape and comfortable for most users to wear. Some find them a tad too large or waxy to the touch.
In addition to providing noise reduction during sleep, these earplugs are able to reduce ear pressure and pain while flying. They’re also waterproof and can be used in a pool or at the beach if you need to protect your ears from moisture.
Hearprotek Sleeping Earplugs
These earplugs feature a double-layer ergonomic design, using air pockets between layers as additional soundproofing. They’re made of soft, washable silicone.
These transportable earplugs come with a small carrying case and backpack hook.
They can also be used to reduce noise in environments such as concerts, shooting ranges, and construction sites.
Ohropax Classic Wax Earplugs
Ohropax Classic earplugs are made from wax and cotton. They’re moldable to the ear and designed to completely seal the ear’s entrance.
These earplugs are comfortable and durable, though some users find them sticky or oily. For that reason, they may be uncomfortable for people with long hair that might stick to them during sleep.
They’re reusable, which might make them a more affordable choice over time. People with small ear canals often find that these provide a better fit and tighter seal than foam or silicone types.
Bose Sleepbuds II
Bose is well known for noise-canceling technology, though this is different from noise masking. The Sleepbuds mask, instead of block or cancel, external noise — that’s why they don’t have an NRR. They’re like tiny white noise machines that fit snugly into your ears.
They connect to an app that provides you with a library of white noise and environmental nature sounds to choose from. You can also choose the volume and duration of play. There’s an alarm function if you’d like to use them to wake you up, too.
If you have tinnitus, these may be a good choice for you. The American Tinnitus Association notes that many people with this condition find relief with sound masking.
These sleep earbuds come with three tips so you can choose the best fit for your ears. The design, which uses a mix of durable plastic, has comfort in mind, even for side sleepers.
These Sleepbuds need to be recharged daily and will hold a charge for about 8 hours, so you can get a solid night’s sleep.
Users report that the Sleepbuds are excellent for masking transportation sounds, such as traffic. For some people, they don’t work as well on snoring.
Radians Custom Molded Earplugs
Custom-molded earplugs are designed to provide you with a personalized fit. This do-it-yourself kit from Radians includes silicone material that you mold into earplugs. It takes around 10 minutes to make both earplugs, and users say it’s easy to do.
In addition to blocking out sound effectively, custom-molded earplugs can be washed, making them very cost-effective.
Choosing the right Earplugs
What works best for you will probably be determined by fit. Ill-fitting earplugs won’t provide you with enough noise reduction.
The size of your ear canal is an important factor. If the earplugs are too big for your ear canal, then they’ll constantly slide out. Experimenting with different types may help you find the type that provides you with the most comfort and noise reduction.
It’s also important to determine whether you wish the earplug to fit into the ear canal or to cover your ear. Both techniques can block out sound.
Some materials may be stickier than others and may be less comfortable for some users.
Earplugs are generally considered safe. However, no matter what type of earplug you decide works best, make sure you know the potential risks.
External white noise machines can be used in addition to earplugs to completely muffle other sounds. They can also be used instead of earplugs.
Other devices are also available that you can wear for noise reduction during sleep, including earmuffs. While they typically provide high NRR, most people find these earmuffs uncomfortable to wear during sleep since they fit over the head like standard headphones.
Noise can interfere with sleep. Not only is this exhausting, but it’s also detrimental to health.
Earplugs are an inexpensive and effective way to block noise. There are many types of earplugs to choose from, including noise-masking options.
Factors to consider when choosing earplugs include the size of your ear canal and personal preferences about materials.