A good night's sleep can be hard to come by, but its important for your health and overall well-being. Those who have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, may find that blocking out extraneous noise can make a big difference when it comes to getting quality sleep. So if you're a light sleeper who often finds your rest disrupted by noises in the night, you may want to consider investing in a pair of earplugs or even earbuds to help you sleep better at night and feel better during the day.
There are a lot of options out there, but the best earplugs for sleeping will fit snugly in your ear canals and help cut out ambient noise so you can drift off to sleep more peacefully. There are basic foam earplugs to moldable silicone putty to high-tech sleep buds that play pink noise as you snooze. We curated a list of the best earplugs for sleeping below.
The Soundcore by Anker Sleep A10 earbuds are small, lightweight and our pick for the best overall earbuds for sleeping. Unlike other bulkier options, the Sleep A10 earbuds fit completely in your ear, so you don't have to worry about them shifting or falling out when you roll over at night. Fit is particularly important for side sleepers, who find other earbuds for sleeping brush against their pillow and make a scratching noise.
In our testing experience, these sleeping earbuds don't actively cancel noise. Instead, they passively block out ambient noise, and your selection of sound options does the rest. These sleeping earbuds have the expected wide range of sleep noises, from white or brown noise to familiar nature sounds like rain or waves crashing.
What stands out about the Sleep A10 earbuds is their Bluetooth connection. You can play music (or whatever you want) from your phone while you sleep. Keep in mind playing music does drain the battery quicker. You can get a full night of sleep with the pre-loaded sounds, while music only gets you a couple of hours.
For only $130, these are some of the most feature-rich sleeping earbuds you can get.
The QuietOn 3 Sleep Earbuds boast a 28-hour battery life, and while I was skeptical that they would live up to these claims, they passed my longevity test -- and all other tests -- with flying colors. The QuietOn 3 sleep earbuds' charging case has LEDs on the front to indicate the battery charge. As long as each earbud has one light on while in the case, it can last the night.
These sleep earbuds are specifically formulated to cancel noise from low-frequency sounds, like snoring, noisy neighbors or airplane sounds, and they do the job amazingly well. While wearing them, you hear a faint white noise. The sound was calming and pleasant and just the right volume to be beneficial but not intrusive.
Oh, and not to forget, they're comfortable too. They stayed flush with my ear so I could sleep on my side comfortably and they didn't fall out during the night. I could use them for about three nights, depending on how much sleep I was getting, without needing to charge them. Their storage case also doubles as a charger, so it makes it easy to just plug them in when you need a recharge.
If you're strictly a side sleeper, Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs are the best earplugs for the money. They're made of soft, fully moldable silicone that shapes to your ear opening and forms an airtight seal that blocks out noise. Although these took a little getting used to -- I've never tried silicone earplugs before -- they quickly became one of my favorites.
Aside from the fact that I was able to shape them to fit my ears perfectly, these earplugs were soft and comfortable and stayed completely flat on my ear opening, so they didn't hurt my ears at all. Most importantly, they did an excellent job at blocking out snoring and any other ambient noise (like three large cats play-fighting in the middle of the night).
The airtight seal also kept them firmly in place, and they didn't fall out even when I tossed and turned. Every time I wore these, I woke up with both still in my ears, a feat that many standard earplugs haven't been able to accomplish.
The six pairs also come neatly packaged in a plastic carrying case, to keep the silicone clean and free from debris in between uses -- a small but appreciated touch.
The Eargasm Squishies are another moldable silicone option that are similar to the Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs. The biggest difference between the two, besides the color, is in the directions. Mack's silicone earplugs must be used whole -- you can't break them or cut them apart.
However, Eargasm says if the earplugs are too big, you can break off a piece to get that perfect fit. This is helpful if you have small ears, like me, and find that using the entire silicone earplug just feels too intrusive.
As far as noise reduction goes, the Eargasm Squishies were just as effective as Mack's putty earplugs. The two have the same noise reduction rating -- 22 dB -- so I was expecting that the performance would be in line, and it was.
The comfort level was also similar, although the Eargasm Squishies had the slight advantage since I could break off a piece and make them a little smaller. The Eargasm Squishies also come in a convenient carrying case with eight reusable pairs.
The Mack's Slim Fit Foam Earplugs look like any regular old foam earplugs, but I could feel the difference in quality as soon as I put them in my ears. They quickly formed an airtight seal and muffled sound instantly. While I could still hear some noise (earplugs aren't meant to completely eliminate noise, by the way), the loud snoring going on next to me went from a roaring thunderstorm to a minor distraction that was easy to tune out. These particular earplugs have a noise reduction rating of 29 dB. For reference, most earplugs on the market have a rating of 0 to 30 dB and the higher the number, the more effective they are.
Mack's Slim Fit Foam Earplugs are specifically made for small ear canals. I've used other foam earplugs in the past and always have issues with them falling out in the middle of the night. It wasn't until I had a conversation with Pete Brenner, whose family started selling Mack's earplugs in 1962, that I realized it's because I wasn't using the right size earplugs for me. It makes a huge difference in effectiveness, so keep that in mind. The foam is also soft and pliable, so it molded right to my ear canal for the perfect, comfortable fit.
If you don't have small ears, you can still take advantage of Mack's advanced snore-blocking technology with its Snore Blockers or Original Soft Foam Earplugs. If you go with any of these options, make sure you thoroughly read the directions before putting them in your ears. One of the most common reasons these types of earplugs get a bad review is because they're not inserted properly.
The SoundOff Sleep Noise Masking Device is another option that's similar to the QuietOn Sleep Earbuds in function. Like the QuietOn Sleep Earbuds, they play one sound -- a pink noise that has almost a wave-like vibe.
Pink noise, which is similar to white noise, but with a smoother sound that hits the same notes as sounds you would find in nature (wind, rain or waves), is supposed to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly and, in my experience, it really worked. I find some white noise a little jarring or unnatural, like it's there to cover something up, rather than soothe you. But the pink noise playing in the SoundOff device was soothing, calming and effective at blocking out snoring.
One thing I really liked about these earplugs for sleeping is that the controls are right on the device itself. There's a small button that you hold down to turn on the pink noise, then you can press it to toggle through five levels of volume. I kept it on the second or third volume settings for the most part, and I was able to get through two nights of sleep without needing a recharge.
As far as design goes, I didn't have high hopes for comfort level when I first saw the SoundOff device. Rather than a slim earbud or squishy foam that you put in your ear, they're shaped like a hearing device, with an earpiece that goes in your ear and a looped plastic piece that wraps around the outside of your ear and holds the earplugs in place. But they were surprisingly comfortable. The adjustable plastic is soft, and it bends and moves with you, so even when I was sleeping on my side, I could barely feel them.
The Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs are different from others on this list. They're actually designed for live music festivals, so rather than blocking out noise, the intent is to lower the decibels of the sound around you to make the noise more manageable. This makes them the ideal choice for traveling, when the noise can get overwhelming but you don't want to be completely checked out from the world as you take a quick snooze.
Unfortunately, because of travel restrictions, I wasn't able to test them during actual travel, but I did wear them in a coffee shop and while I was waiting in line to check out at a busy store, and they did an excellent job of blocking out voices, reducing pitches and dulling loud music.
You can use them for sleeping at home too, but only if you're strictly a back sleeper. The earplugs have a stem that sticks out straight from your ear canal, so not only are they uncomfortable when you're sleeping on your side, it's possible that they could get pushed too far into your ear and cause problems.
The earplugs come with three different ear tip sizes so you can find the ideal fit for your ear canal and a small carrying case that makes them easier to travel with.
How we tested the best earplugs for sleeping
When selecting the best earplugs for sleeping, we tested them the only way you can -- by wearing them to bed. While testing, we noted the fit, comfort and quality of each selection for the best earplugs for sleeping. We also considered the price, charging requirements and noise blocking properties.
How to choose the best earplugs for sleeping
There's a lot of variety in earplugs. What works for someone else might not be the best choice for you due to size, shape and material. To find your perfect match, keep these factors in mind when shopping for the best earplugs for sleeping.
- Material: This will determine the quality and comfort of the earplugs. Typical materials used are silicone, wax, foam and cotton. Foam is typically the most common earplug material because it's the cheapest. Silicone on the other hand is what you'll find most reusable options made out of. Wax earplugs give you the benefit of being able to mold them to the shape of your ear.
- Noise reduction rating: This is an important one. The noise reduction level tells you how many decibels the earplugs block. The rating ranges from 0 to 30 dB. So, earplugs with a higher NRR score block out the noise the best. Extremely sensitive sleepers want to get as high of a rating as possible.
- Use: Earplugs are available in either single-use or reusable options. There are benefits and drawbacks to each. Single-use earplugs are typically cheaper and suitable for occasional use. If you're looking to use them regularly, it's best to invest in reusable options -- they're better for the environment and way more durable.
- Price: We all know price is one of the most important parts of shopping for the best earplugs for sleep. A pack of disposable earplugs can seem like the obvious choice based on price -- most packs average around $10. However, reusable earplugs may be better suited if you're looking for a long-term option. They cost a bit more, but you only need to buy them once.
Best earplugs for sleeping FAQs
Is it safe to sleep with earplugs?
Earplugs are safe to sleep in when used as directed. However, your sleeping position will determine how comfortably you sleep with them. Back sleepers typically experience the least amount of problems. Stomach and side sleepers may find that certain earplugs may backfire and make noise as they come in contact with the pillow. Selecting earplugs that don't stick out of your ears will help side sleepers avoid this.
What are the best earplugs for sleeping?
The best earplugs for sleeping come down to personal preference. Certain factors influence what you need, like the size of your ear and how you sleep. We found that the QuietOn 3 Sleep Earbuds to be extremely comfortable for those who want sounds played. Though if you're a side sleeper, you may want to opt for Eargasm Squishies or Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Puffy Earplugs which mold into your ears and stay snug all night.
Is it OK to wear earplugs every night?
Yes, you can wear earplugs every night as you use them as directed. However, there are side effects you should be aware of. Earplugs may cause earwax buildup and cause ear canal damage if used incorrectly. Make sure to follow the directions and regularly clean reusable options. Always throw away the disposable earplugs.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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