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Best Earplugs for Sleeping – Top Picks and Buyer’s Guide

Written by Keith Cushner

Quick Overview

Earplugs are a simple, inexpensive method of blocking noises that disrupt sleep. These may include traffic or other outside sounds, as well as snoring bed partners or noisy travel environs (such as airplanes). Earplugs are designed to compress into smaller shapes, and then re-expand when fitted into the ear canal for maximum noise reduction. They come in a wide range of shapes to accommodate users with different bodily dimensions and preferences.

Most earplugs are made from either foam or silicone, though select models are made of wax. The majority of earplugs are designed for one-time use; reusable models are also available, but need to be regularly cleaned in order to prevent contamination and reduce risk of an ear infection. Earplugs are usually sold in bulk; when priced individually, most cost between 15 and 60 cents per pair.

Read on to learn more about earplug shapes and materials, as well as key considerations for first-time buyers. Below you’ll find our picks for the best earplugs sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.

Best Earplugs for Sleeping

The Best Earplugs for Sleeping – Reviewed

Best OverallQuietOn 3 sleep earbuds

Best Overall – QuietOn 3 sleep earbuds

Highlights

  • Plastic, polyurethane rubber, and steel earbuds
  • Non-moldable
  • 25-40 dB reduction
  • Reusable with 28-hour battery life
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Best OverallQuietOn 3 sleep earbuds

quieton.com

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For sleepers who want noise protection that goes beyond standard earplugs, the next-gen QuietOn 3 sleep earbuds are a high-tech option that hold up well over time. The buds are designed to cancel noises of 25 to 30 dB that fall within the frequency range of 100 to 2,000 Hz, and noises of 30 to 40 dB with higher frequencies. These capabilities make the beds very well-suited to people who reside in particularly loud neighborhoods.

While the buds are composed of steel and plastic, they come equipped with rubber tips to reduce discomfort. The built-in battery has a 28-hour life, so diligent recharging ensures sleepers can use them throughout the night. Ear tips in extra small, small, medium, and large sizes are included with each purchase along with a battery charging cable and a carrying case for easy travel. Customers receive a 14-day money-back guarantee and a 1-year warranty with their order.

Good for:

  • Sleepers looking for earbuds that attenuate exceptionally large noises
  • Those who prefer reusable noise protection

Best Value Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs

Best Value –  Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs

Highlights

  • Silicone
  • Moldable circle shape
  • 22 dB noise reduction rating
  • Reusable
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Best Value Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs

Walmart.com

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Silicone earplugs have certain advantages, such as reusability and exceptional comfort. The Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs are a standout in this category for several reasons. One is moldability; the soft silicone plugs come in a circular shape that can be molded to fit any ear canal and create a secure, noise-blocking barrier. These earplugs carry a noise reduction rating of 22 – typical of silicone plugs – which makes them suitable for sleepers seeking moderate, but not industrial-strength, noise blockage.

Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs are also reusable. Owners are urged to wash them after every use in order to keep them clean and hygienic. They are usually sold in smaller quantities with very approachable per-pair price-point.

Good for:

  • Sleepers seeking moderate noise reduction
  • Those who prefer softer, moldable earplugs

Best for SnoringZQuiet Advanced Sleep Earplugs

Best for Snoring – ZQuiet Advanced Sleep Earplugs

Highlights

  • Silicone
  • Cylinder shape
  • 27 dB noise reduction rating
  • Reusable
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Best for SnoringZQuiet Advanced Sleep Earplugs

zquiet.com

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ZQuiet – a company best known for anti-snoring mouthguards – also offers the Advanced Sleep Earplugs designed for people who share their beds with heavy snorers. Composed of flexible silicone, the earplugs offer a snug fit with tips that expand within the ear, ensuring reduction of noises that measure up to 27 dB. The earplugs also have helpful pull-tabs for easy, painless removal when users wake up in the morning.

Each set of earplugs includes removable ear tips in two different sizes, so most buyers will be able to use an option that feels comfortable. Customers also receive a storage case that’s ideal for travel and cleaning brush to keep the earplugs hygienic. The price-point is very approachable, and ZQuiet also provides a 60-night trial with all orders.

Good for:

  • Anyone who shares their bed with a partner who snores heavily
  • Value seekers

Most ComfortableEargasm Squishies

Most Comfortable – Eargasm Squishies

Highlights

  • Silicone
  • Rounded shape
  • 22 dB noise reduction rating
  • Reusable
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Most ComfortableEargasm Squishies

eargasmearplugs.com

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Eargasm offers a wide selection of earplugs that vary in terms of shape, fit, and noise reduction. The Squishies are both effective and comfortable thanks to their silicone composition and moldable, rounded construction that should fit snugly in any ear. The noise reduction rating is 22 dB, so the Squishies should provide decent coverage in moderately loud environs. The earplugs are waterproof and well-suited for swimming, and their easy-to-apply design also makes them a good option for public transportation.

Each set includes eight pairs. Although they resemble single-use earplugs, the Squishies are reusable with proper cleaning. Eargasm offers a proprietary cleaning solution that dries quickly and keeps the silicone hygienic. Each purchase includes a storage case. Customers may return their Squishies within 30 calendar days of their delivery date and receive a full product refund.

Good for:

  • People who want moldable earplugs that are larger and thicker than average
  • Those who use earplugs on airplanes, buses, and other forms of public transportation

Most SecureLoop Quiet Earplugs

Most Secure – Loop Quiet Earplugs

Highlights

  • Silicone
  • Moldable bell shape
  • 25 dB noise reduction rating
  • Reusable
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Most SecureLoop Quiet Earplugs

amazon.com

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The Loop Quiet Earplugs are composed of soft yet dense silicone material that expands within the ear for maximum coverage without creating discomfort. They carry a noise reduction rating of 25 dB, resulting in decent cancellation even in moderately loud places. Each purchase includes moldable ear tips in small, medium, and large sizes, ensuring a snug fit for most people. The earplugs also feature small pull tabs at the end for pain-free extraction.

Thanks to their secure fit, the earplugs are especially well suited to people who toss and turn at night, or those who tend to tilt their heads when sleeping on airplanes. Customers can choose from six different colors, and will receive a protective storage case with their order. The earplugs are reusable and can be washed to keep them hygienic. Their price-point is quite reasonable, and shoppers with Amazon Prime memberships qualify for free expedited delivery if they make their purchase on Amazon.com.

Good for:

  • Sleepers who want earplugs that offer an exceptionally snug fit
  • People who toss and turn or frequently shift positions in bed

Best Earplugs for Sleeping Buyer's Guide

Outside noise can be a major sleep disruption, and many people rely on earplugs to get a good night’s rest. Situations where earplugs may come in handy include the following:

  • Your sleep partner snores
  • You are staying in a hotel or other overnight accommodation with high noise potential
  • Your bedroom is located near a busy street or loud commercial establishment
  • You are traveling by plane, train, or another form of public transport

Earplugs for sleeping are relatively inexpensive compared to other noise-blocking products (such as white noise machines or headphones), and are widely available through online and brick-and-mortar retailers. Users can also choose from a wide range of shapes and styles. However, it’s important to note that long-term earplug use can lead to medical conditions like tinnitus, hearing loss, and ear infections.

This guide will look at the most popular designs for earplugs, information about health risks, and our picks for the top-rated earplugs sold today.

Earplugs for Sleeping: Common Designs and Characteristics

The majority of earplugs sold today are made from one of three materials:

  • Foam: This is the most common type of earplug material, and these models are usually the cheapest. Foam earplugs are designed to fit inside the ear canal, where they expand to create a relatively soundproof barrier. High-density polyurethane foams tend to be most effective at blocking outside noise, though overly dense foam may cause comfort issues. Foam earplugs come in a wide range of shapes, but most are cylindrical with slight tapering.
  • Silicone: Unlike foam earplugs, which are inserted into the ear canal, silicone earplugs are designed to cover the entrance of the ear without much penetration. This makes them fairly easy to remove. Silicone earplugs are typically more expensive than foam models — but in many cases, they can be reused.
  • Wax: Wax earplugs are fairly rare, and can be relatively expensive despite their one-time-use design. However, many users claim they are the most effective material for blocking outside noise.

A wide range of earplug shapes are available. These include cylindrical (tapered and non-tapered), circular, bell-shaped, and T-shaped designs, as well as moldable models that match the specific dimensions of the user’s ear canal. Regardless of shape, most earplugs sold today share the following characteristics.

  • Size: Some earplugs are one-size-fits-all, while others may come in multiple sizes to accommodate users with different ear dimensions.
  • Multiple use: Select foam and silicone earplug models are reusable, but most are designed for one-time use.
  • Noise Reduction Rating: Earplugs sold today come with a Noise Reduction Rating, or NRR, which is measured in decibels (dB). The NRR may fall anywhere from 20 to 34; the higher the NRR, the more effective the earplugs are at blocking outside noise.
  • Price-point: Earplugs are quite inexpensive, and often sold in bulk. The average 50-, 100- or 200-piece set of one-time-use earplugs costs less than $30, giving them an individual price of less than 20 cents per pair. Reusable earplugs are sold in smaller quantities (typically no more than 25 pairs), and have an average price-point of 70 to 80 cents per pair.

Health Risks for People Who Sleep with Earplugs

Nightly earplug use is associated with three general health and safety risks:

Earwax Impaction

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a substance secreted (or drained) in the ear canal on a daily basis. It protects the skin and tissue of the inner ear against contaminants like bacteria and fungi, as well as water, and provides much-needed lubrication. Wearing earplugs can affect how much earwax is drained, and this can lead to earwax impaction, or buildup. One common side effect of earwax impaction is tinnitus, a condition characterized by a constant ringing in the ears. Other outcomes may include hearing loss, leaky discharge, or ear infections.

The best way for earplug users to prevent earwax impaction is to thoroughly clean the ear canal on a regular basis — if not every day, then multiple times per week. Cleaning and replacing earplugs can also help reduce the risk of impaction.

Ear Infections

In addition to infections caused by earwax impaction, people who use earplugs may become infected if they do not regularly and properly clean their plugs. Failure to do so allows bacteria to accumulate, and placing bacteria-infested plugs in one’s ear canal can easily lead to an infection. Foam is particularly conducive to bacteria buildup. For this reason, many earplugs are designed for one-time use.

To clean reusable earplugs, simply submerge them in warm water and rub away dirt and waxy buildup. Once they are clean, place the earplugs under running cold water to rinse away any traces of soap, which can affect the structural integrity of the earplugs. Lastly, place them on a clean towel to dry.

Minimized Hearing

Because they effectively block outside noise, earplugs can pose a risk to sleepers by preventing them from hearing certain activities in their home. These include emergency situations, such as a fire or home intruder, as well as medical issues involving family members or roommates. People with young children may want to refrain from using earplugs for this reason.

Important Considerations for Earplug Shoppers

When shopping for earplugs for sleeping and comparing different brands and models, here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • What size is your ear/ear canal? Most earplugs are designed to fit all ear and/or ear canal sizes, but some may be too narrow or wide for certain users.
  • What shape are the earplugs? Whether cylindrical, bell-shaped, T-shaped, or moldable, the choice of shape often comes down to personal preference.
  • What material are the earplugs? Foam earplugs are far more common and lower-priced than other earplug options, but not as durable as wax or silicone models.
  • What is the Noise Reduction Rating? The NRR for most earplugs falls between 20 and 34, but models with an NRR of 27 or higher are considered the most effective.
  • Are the earplugs reusable? The per-pair price-point of reusable earplugs will be considerably higher than that of one-time-use models.
  • How much do the earplugs cost? Typically, a box of 50 to 200 pairs of one-time-use earplugs will cost $30 or less; boxes of reusable earplugs (which may contain up to 25 pairs) typically cost $20 or less.

Additional Accessories for Noise-Free Sleeping

If you’re unable to sleep despite using earplugs, then you may be more satisfied with one of these noise-blocking alternatives.

Headphones

Listening to music while you sleep can be an effective method of blocking outside noise, and some studies suggest this may also lower your heart rate. Headphones come in in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear designs, and some newer models are built into headbands or sleep masks. Cheaper headphones are available for less than $30, while higher-end models may cost $200 or more. To learn more, please visit our Best Headphones for Sleeping guide.

White Noise Machines

White noise machines produce random sound signals that can mask outside noise to a significant extent. Many sleepers utilize these machines when they go to bed. In addition to white noise, the machines may produce other ‘colors’ of noise, such as pink, blue, red, and brown noise — all of which increase or decrease volume per tempo for different listening experiences and sound-masking capabilities.

Most white noise machine models come with speakers and headphone jacks to accommodate different listening preferences. These machines rarely cost more than $100, and are widely available through brick-and-mortar and online retailers. For more information, check out our White Noise Machine Reviews guide.

Apps

Today’s smartphone or tablet user can choose from a wide selection of soothing, noise-blocking apps. Most are free, and come with multiple white noise and ambient options. The most popular white noise apps priced at $2 or less include the following:

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