Earplugs are a cheap and straightforward way of blocking out unwanted sounds. Whether it’s a snoring partner, an intense studying period, or a loud neighbor at night, they are a handy tool to have at your disposal. There are many types of earplugs available, from wax to silicone to foam; there really is something for everyone.

Earplugs work by creating a barrier against noise, and they come in a variety of different sizes, shapes, and even colors. They compress into smaller shapes and then expand once in the ear. In fact, studies have shown that earplugs can improve your overall quality of sleep.

Our guide to the best earplugs for sleeping will include the benefits of using them and what to consider when choosing earplugs. We’ll also feature our very own top picks for the best earplugs money can buy.

Our Top Picks: Summary

Best Overall: Peace & Quiet Small Earplugs
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Peace & Quiet Small Earplugs

Our best overall earplugs are Peace & Quiet’s foam noise-canceling wonders.

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$17.99 USD

Why we Picked It

Our best overall earplugs are Peace & Quiet’s foam noise-canceling wonders. They’re a pair of earplugs that are designed to be minimal and unintrusive while you sleep. They are particularly suited for side sleepers because of their soft, small, and elastic nature. In other words, you shouldn’t feel them poking out and causing discomfort while in this popular sleeping position.

In terms of noise reduction, the Peace & Quiet earplugs hit 32 dB (decibels), which should provide more than enough noise cancellation. Perhaps most importantly, these earplugs allow you to hear emergencies, such as when fire alarms are activated, children are crying, and when intruders are breaking into your home.

The Peace & Quiet earplugs are produced to be 30% smaller than regular earplugs and feature hypoallergenic foam to prevent allergic reactions. They should fit in almost all ear sizes. You get 20 pairs for 60 days, and a handy storage case included that protects the earplugs from dirt, moisture, and debris.

Keep in Mind

If you desire further noise cancellation, then custom earplugs might be a better option for you.

In a Nutshell

  • NRR of 32 dB
  • 30% smaller than regular earplugs
  • Hypoallergenic foam
Best Value: Mack's Ultra Soft Earplugs
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Mack’s earplugs are disposable, and because of their affordable price, it’s easy to stock up on them.

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$10.79 USD

Why we Picked It

Mack’s foam earplugs are some of the best value earplugs available. Not only because of their excellent price, but also due to the quantity provided: 50 pairs. For those worried about hygiene, don’t be. Mack’s earplugs are disposable, and because of their affordable price, it’s easy to stock up on them.

They come with a noise reduction rating of 32 decibels, meaning most sounds will effortlessly be blocked out. For people who may feel embarrassed or awkward wearing earplugs, Mack’s have even thought of this. Their flesh-colored design means they will blend in and won’t attract attention.

Keep in Mind

For some users, foam earplugs may cause discomfort while they sleep, although this does depend on the sleeper.

In a Nutshell

  • NRR of 32 dB
  • Great value for money
  • Flip-open top for easy dispensing
Best Silicone: ANBOW
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ANBOW

Made from high-grade silicone, these earplugs are washable and reusable, so you don’t have to stock up continually.

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$15.99 USD

Why we Picked It

Made from high-grade silicone, these earplugs are washable and reusable, so you don’t have to stock up continually. They’re also BPA free (free from harmful chemicals).

The earplugs feature a noise reduction rating of 32, which will protect you from loud disturbances. Additionally, you can keep these earplugs in while swimming, preventing water from seeping into your ears.

ANBOW’s earplugs are primarily about providing a soft and comfortable feel in your ears. Silicone earplugs are moldable and can fit into the ear canal more easily. They’re designed to be left in for a long time, too, all day and night if you desire, without discomfort.

The earplugs come with dedicated storage boxes and a waterproof carrying pouch. One of the three pairs is even corded, so you’re less likely to lose them.

Keep in Mind

If you’re a side sleeper, the earplugs might poke into the pillow. This protrusion may cause some pressure on the ears.

In a Nutshell

  • NRR of 32 decibels
  • Suitable for swimming
  • Reusable earplugs
Best Wax: Peace & Quiet Moldable Wax Earplugs
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Best Wax Earplugs

These moldable wax earplugs should fit most ear canals with relative ease.

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$14.99 USD

Why we Picked It

These moldable wax earplugs should fit most ear canals with relative ease. Peace & Quiet’s noise-canceling earplugs will block out unwanted sounds and distractions thanks to their 32 decibels of noise reduction.

Whether you’re studying or just trying to get some shut-eye from a noisy neighbor, these earplugs should have you covered. They aim to offer a blend of comfort and high-performance, can also be used for swimming to keep water out, and are completely waterproof.

You’ll get 12 pillows of noise-canceling earplugs that are non-toxic, elastic, and ready to use from the off. They even come with a holding case that protects them from outside debris and dirt. Additionally, you can cut one of the earplugs into two parts and use that as a pair itself—it’s a novel idea that also gives you more value for money.

Keep in Mind

They may be too small for some ears, so just keep that in mind when considering these as an option.

In a Nutshell

  • NRR of 32 decibels
  • Moldable wax design
  • Ideal for swimming
Best for Snoring: Flents
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Flents

Flents earplugs will be ideal for people who sleep with a partner whose snoring keeps them up at night.

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$16.99 USD

Why we Picked It

Due to their high NRR of 33 decibels, Flents earplugs will be ideal for people who sleep with a partner whose snoring keeps them up at night.

They’re made from soft and comfortable foam and are designed to cushion the ears and muffle the harshest of sounds. Aside from snoring, those sounds could be loud machinery or even hand tools.

The earplugs are specially designed to fit most ear canals with ease and should be suitable to wear whenever you need them. You get a plentiful 55 pairs of earplugs that are ready to be used straight away.

Keep in Mind

If you have small ears, these earplugs might be too big for you.

In a Nutshell

  • NRR of 33 decibels
  • 55 pairs of earplugs
  • Ideal for couples

How We Chose the Best Earplugs

With such a large range of choices available online, it can be challenging to know where to start with earplugs. There are many types, each with various materials, prices, and specifications. For example, the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) can differ with each model.

Having more options is a fabulous thing; that is, if you don’t feel puzzled by it all. The truth is, sometimes, you need a speedy answer that breaks everything down, making it simple and easy to understand. That’s why we’re here. When analyzing our top earplug picks, we look at multiple factors.

Below, we’ve outlined what we look for and what would make them a worthy addition to our top picks.

Material: We look for earplugs made from quality materials that will withstand use and effectively block out sound. Earplugs produced from substandard materials won’t perform how they should. We look for earplugs that provide you with a comfortable and restful night of sleep. They’ll also be good for the planet, and we always look to see evidence of excellent craftsmanship. Only the real deal will suffice.

Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): Earplugs come with a noise reduction rating, also known as NRR. The higher the rating, the better the earplugs will reduce noise. We look for earplugs that significantly minimize noise and help give you a quiet night of rest. The NRR is measured in decibels, and it can fall anywhere from 20 to 34 on the scale.

Price: We ensure the products we pick offer great value for money for customers. With earplugs, we look for those that do everything they say they will and at a fair price to boot. Of course, the price of earplugs fluctuates depending on the material and reputation of the brand. Generally speaking, earplugs will cost less than $30. They shouldn’t be expensive to purchase.

Customer Satisfaction: When we’re looking for the best earplugs, we focus on customer satisfaction. What customers are saying is crucial, and we check how satisfied they are over time with their product. If many customers are unhappy with their earplugs, then you can be sure they won’t come close to making our top picks. Rest assured, we diligently check to see that customer reviews are verified.

When to Use Earplugs

Certain situations are ideally suited to the use of earplugs. Of course, we’re talking on a short-term basis, as long-term earplug use can be problematic – we’ll discuss more later.

The following are some scenarios in which earplugs are ideal:

A partner who snores: You may be a victim of your partner’s heavy snoring at night. It’s fair to say that most of us have been there! Snoring is very common and can be caused by anything from blocked airways to your partner sleeping on their back. Earplugs would enable you to reduce the sound of snoring so you can actually arrive in the land of nod too.

Live on a busy street/noisy area: Do you live on a busy street or in a noisy area? You might even be tired of hearing cats at night, engaging in territorial battles. Whatever the reason, earplugs can help. A good pair of earplugs will reduce the noise and will give you some added peace of mind.

Travel often in changing environments: Your job may require you to travel in public places frequently. Whether it’s on trains or at airports, there can be an awful lot of noise filtering through the air. Earplugs can save the day, making everything more bearable and helping it to run more smoothly.

Is It Safe to Use Earplugs While Sleeping?

You shouldn’t wear earplugs on a long-term basis. In fact, there are multiple adverse effects of doing so. These include the following:

Ear Infections

Sleepers who use earplugs regularly are prone to ear infections; this is because you need to keep your earplugs clean. If you don’t, bacteria can build-up, resulting in you placing bacteria-ridden earplugs into your ear.

This unpleasant fact can be especially true for reusable earplugs where sleepers continue to use them each night without cleaning them. Some earplugs are designed to be one-time use affairs to prevent such infections.

Cleaning earplugs requires you to place them in warm water, where you can rub away the accumulation of wax. Once you’ve done that, be sure to clean them under cold water to remove any leftover soap. Failing to remove soap residue can weaken the material of the earplugs over time. Finally, finish the cleaning process by placing the earplugs on a freshly washed towel.

Earwax Impaction

Your ear canal produces earwax, which is also known as cerumen. Earwax is a good thing, as it protects the ear from particles and microorganisms. It also provides lubrication and protects against contaminants such as fungi and bacteria. Essentially, wearing earplugs can cause an extensive build-up of earwax. It can, conversely, prevent the drainage of earwax.

Side effects of earwax impaction include the following:

  • Tinnitus—constant ringing in the ears
  • Leaky discharge
  • Hearing loss
  • Painful ear infections

The easiest way to prevent ear impaction is to clean the ear canal frequently. Ideally, this would be every single day, but realistically over a busy week, a few times will suffice. Replacing your earplugs altogether can additionally reduce the chances of earwax impaction.

Hearing Damage

While reducing sounds at night is usually a desirable thing, there can be certain situations in which it can be dangerous.

Examples include not being able to hear a fire alarm go off, or an intruder breaking into your home at night. Being unable to hear family members who might struggle with medical issues can be a serious problem. If you have young children, this is also something to consider—you might not be aware that they need your help.

What to Consider when Choosing Earplugs for Sleeping

There are quite a few areas to consider when choosing which earplugs to purchase. From the noise reduction rating to the size and material of the earplugs, you need to think carefully.

Below, we’ve listed the key areas and what you need to consider for each.

Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

Noise reduction rating in earplugs is a good indicator of their effectiveness. Essentially, the higher the noise reduction rating or NRR, the more the earplugs will block out any unwanted noise. The NRR is measured in decibels, also known as dB, and it may fall anywhere between 20 – 34. Always keep in mind that blocking out all external noise can carry its own set of risks—like not being aware of your surroundings.

Size

Earplug size comes down to personal preference when all is said and done, but they do come in different sizes and even shapes.

Earplugs come in the following shapes:

  • Cylindrical – tapered and non-tapered
  • Bell-shaped
  • Circular
  • T-shaped
  • Moldable shapes that suit a user’s ear dimensions

Some of the earplugs you can buy are one-size-fits-all, but others come with different sizes to accommodate users with varying sizes of ears. Earplugs that are too big can fall out during the night, while earplugs that are too small won’t block out as much sound as they need to.

Price

Generally, earplugs are cheap and affordable; they are often sold in bulk. An average set of one-time-use earplugs will usually cost less than $30. On the other hand, reusable earplugs tend to cost more and are sold in smaller quantities. Think about which is better for you: reusable or disposable varieties.

Material

It’s necessary to think about the material of the earplugs. For example, some people may have allergic reactions to synthetic foam earplugs. A good option here is wax earplugs that mold to every shape and size of ear canal—although they are a more expensive option. Foam earplugs may not fit your ear, as well as wax earplugs, do either.

Meanwhile, silicone earplugs generally don’t block out as much noise as foam ones do, but you can additionally use them for swimming. You need to think carefully about which of these best suits you and your lifestyle.

Related Resources

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Jamie Giggs