Best Earplugs for Sleeping

If you are having troubles to fall asleep at night due to noise, earplugs are a fast and inexpensive method of blocking all the sounds that prevent you from sleeping peacefully. Take a look at our buying guide and some key considerations that may be important to first-time buyers. Apart from learning more about earplug shapes and materials, you will also find out what are our top picks.

Written by:


, Sleep Researcher
Last Updated: Thu, July 4, 2019
Fact checked by:

Marko Jevtic

, Sleep Specialist

If you are having troubles to fall asleep at night due to noise, earplugs are a fast and inexpensive method of blocking all the sounds that prevent you from sleeping peacefully. If you live in a loud neighborhood, this is an easy way to block out traffic noise. Also, if you are dealing with a snoring partner or noisy travel environments, earplugs may also be the solution for your problem.

Earplugs may seem big, but they are designed to compress into a smaller shape, and basically mold (re-expand) according to the unique curves of your ear canal, and create a tight seal that blocks any outside noise. Even though earplugs can easily fit into the user’s ear, for added comfort, manufacturers have designed a wide range of shapes and sizes. When it comes to materials, most models are made from foam or silicone. Some models may be made from wax.

The majority of earplugs are designed for one-time use. Reusable models are also available but have to be regularly and thoroughly cleaned in order to prevent contamination and potential ear infections. Earplugs are typically sold in bulk for less than $10. If we would like to price an individual pair, most models would cost between 15 and 60 cents per pair.

If you are thinking about buying earplugs, take a look at our guide and some key considerations that may be important to first-time buyers. Apart from learning more about earplug shapes and materials, you will also find out what are our top picks. As always, our picks are based on verified customer experience and product research. In order to create our guide, we have consulted with 3 sleep experts and spent 80 hours of research.

Howard Leight MAX-1 Earplugs

Key features: Made from foam, bell shape, 33 dB noise reduction (total silence earplugs), one-time use, rated best earplugs for concerts

The MAX-1 Earplugs from Howard Leight is the perfect choice for first-time buyers- it’s affordable, comfortable, and effectively blocks noise. The model is made from soft, polyurethane foam formed in a twistable bell shape. The contoured bell shape design is perfect for creating a seal and blocking out noise. Unlike other earplugs that easily fall out of the ear canal, the bell shape is also ideal for resisting the tendency to back out of the ear canal and ensuring they stay in place during the entire night. The polyurethane foam not only enhances comfort but it’ especially handy for long-term wear. The closed cell-foam skin prevents dirt build-up.


The MAX-1 Earplugs are the highest rated and most sold earplugs today, mostly because of their affordable price and ability to reduce noise for 33 dB. According to our research, they are considered one of the best earplugs for concerts. They are sold in packages of 20 to 200, and cost per pair is around 20 cents, depending on the quantity.

Recommended for:

Moldex 6800 Pura-Fit Soft-Foam Earplugs

Key features: Made of foam, cylinder shape, 33 dB noise reduction (total silence earplugs), one-time use


Most earplugs are affordable, but the 6800 Pura-Fit Soft-Foam Earplugs from Moldex are very cheap – only 14 cents per pair when sold in packs of 200. The best thing about this product is that they provide almost the same level of comfort and noise reduction as their costlier competitors. Their NRR is 33db, meaning they have industrial-strength noise cancelling capabilities. The earplugs are made from polyurethane foam, and they are shaped like cylinders. They comfortably fit into the user’s ear, and they are also very easy to remove. The product is designed for single use.

Recommended for:

Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs

Key features: Made from silicone, circle shape, 22 dB noise reduction, reusable, rated best reusable ear plugs, and best earplugs for studying

Mack’s earplugs are not made from foam like most models but from silicone. Silicone earplugs provide certain advantages, such as reusability and comfort. These earplugs stand out from the crowd because of their exceptional moldability. The circular shape can easily be molded to fit into the ear canal and create a secure sound blocking barrier. Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs have a noise reduction rating of 22, which is suitable for sleepers who sleep in moderately loud environments. If your surroundings are particularly noisy, this product may not help you because it doesn’t have industrial strength noise blockage.


However, if you are looking for comfortable and reusable earplugs, this may be a perfect choice. Apart from sleeping, these earplugs can also be used for snoring, swimming, studying, travel, and similar. According to our research, they are considered one of the best earplugs for studying, as well as best reusable ear plugs. When it comes to swimming, Mack’s is even recommended by doctors to help prevent swimmer’s ear infections and Surfer’s Ear. Manufacturers have lab tested the product and it’s proven that it relieves airplane ear pressure and pain due to flying. The brand is so entrusted that it’s the official earplugs of US swimming.

In order to keep them clean, all you need to do is to wash them after every use. They are usually sold in smaller quantities, and the average price per pair is 60 to 67 cents.

Recommended for:

Ohropax Wax Earplugs

Key features: Made from cotton-encased wax, round shape, 23 dB noise reduction rating, reusable, rated best earplugs for traffic noise

Wax earplugs are another alternative to foam, and like silicone models, they are highly moldable and easily fit into the user’s ear canal. However, you should know that wax earplugs are very rare, and when they are available, they are usually pricier. The Ohropax Wax Earplugs is still very affordable, and therefore considered one of the best wax earplugs. Their average price per pair is 50 cents, meaning the cost is similar to standard silicone earplugs. Due to cotton encasement around the wax, they are also very comfortable.


When it comes to noise reduction, this product’s rating is 23 dB, meaning they are not ear plugs that block all sounds, but a good option in moderately loud environments but not in exceptionally noisy surroundings. According to our research, they are considered one of the best earplugs for traffic noise. Apart from sleeping, they can also be used for swimming and travel. Ohropax Wax Earplugs efficiently prevent swimmer’s ear infections and Surfer’s Ear. The earplugs are reusable and have to regularly cleaned.

Recommended for:

Flents Super Sleep Comfort Foam Earplugs

Key features: Made from foam, cylinder shape, 29 dB noise reduction rating (noise cancelling ear plugs), one-time use


Flents Super Sleep Comfort Foam noise cancelling ear plugs are specially designed to accommodate side sleepers. They come in a very thin, cylindrical shape that perfectly molds to the user’s ear canal. The earplugs are also very gentle and don’t protrude too deep into one’s ear canal. Since protruding is a common complaint among side sleepers who use foam earplugs, the manufacturers have designed a product that is only ¾ inch and length and perfectly comfortable to wear when sleeping on the side. When it comes to noise reduction, their rating is 29 dB. If you need strong ear plugs that block all sounds, but you don’t like silicone or wax models, this product may be a perfect choice. The product is, in most cases, sold in packages of 10 or 20, and the average price per pair is around 65 cents. Apart from sleeping, they are very suitable for traveling. The Flents Super Sleep Comfort Foam Plugs come with a travel case for hygienic storage.

Recommended for:

Best Earplugs for Sleeping Buyer’s Guide

Unfortunately, outside noise is a significant sleep disruption for many people. In order to get a good night’s sleep despite loud surroundings, most sleepers rely on sleeping headphones, white noise or earplugs. Earplugs may be a helpful sleep aid in a number of occasions. Sleepers mostly use them when they are staying in a hotel with a high noise potential, dealing with a snoring partner, or when they are traveling by plane or another form of public transport for long hours. Of course, earplugs are mostly used when one’s bedroom is located near a busy or loud street.

Compared to other noise blocking devices and products, earplugs are an inexpensive way to get a better night’s sleep. You can easily buy them online or at your local brick-and-mortar store. Depending on your preferences and needs, you can also choose from a wide array of shapes and styles. However, although ear plugs sleeping side effects are rare, prolonged or improper use can lead to health issues and medical conditions such as ear infections and hearing damage. In this short guide, we will take a look at the most popular designs for earplugs, potential health risks, and our picks for the best earplugs sold today.

Earplugs for Sleeping – Designs, Characteristics, and Features

Earplugs are typically made out of three different types of materials – foam, silicone, and wax.

Foam earplugs are the most common type, and they are usually the cheapest. These products are specifically designed to be put comfortably inside the ear canal. Inside the ear canal, they gently expand and create a barrier that should isolate you from all outside sounds. High-density polyurethane foams are considered one of the best materials for earplugs because it effectively blocks noise. However, it may not be so comfortable to wear during sleep. Foam earplugs come in different shapes. In most cases, they are cylindrical.

Silicone earplugs are not inserted into the ear canal like foam models. Earplugs made from silicone are designed to cover the entrance of the ear without causing much penetration. This feature makes them very comfortable to wear at night and also very easy to remove. However, when it comes to price, silicone models are typically costlier. In many cases, they are also reusable, which makes up for their costliness.

Wax earplugs are rare to find on the market, and due to their one-time-use design, they are typically a bit pricier. Many users claim they are the best material for blocking outside noise.

Shapes and Sizes

As mentioned above, earplugs come in many shapes and even sizes. The most common forms are cylindrical, or circular. They can also be bell-shaped or T-shaped. Cylindrical models can be tapered and non-tapered. Lastly, there are special moldable earplugs that match the specific dimensions of the user’s ear canal. When it comes to size, most models are one-size-fits-all, but some also have multiple sizes such as small, medium and large.

Multiple Use

Earplugs can be designed for one-time use, or they can be reusable. Foam models are in most cases meant for one-time use, while silicone and wax styles are designed to be reusable.

Noise Reduction Rating

All earplugs sold today come with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) which is measured in decibels. The NRR typically falls somewhere in between 20 to 34. Higher noise reduction rating means the earplugs are more effective in blocking noise.


When it comes to price, these sleep aids are inexpensive and usually sold in bulk. One set of one-time-use earplugs can that contains 50, 100 or 200 pieces typically costs less than $30. The individual price per pair is around 20 cents. Reusable earplugs are sold in smaller quantities and are a bit pricier. The average cost per pair is 70 to 80 cents.

Ear Plugs Sleeping Side Effects

The general health and safety risks of sleeping with earplugs include excessive earwax build-up, ear infections, and minimized hearing.

Cerumen Build-Up

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a substance normally drained in the ear canal. Its role is to protect the skin and tissue of the inner ear against contaminants and water. Also, earwax provides lubrication to the ear. Wearing earplugs can affect how much earwax is drained every day, and it can lead to an excessive build-up. A common side-effect of earwax impaction is tinnitus, a condition characterized by constant ringing in the ears. Other outcomes may include hearing damage and ear infections.

The best way to prevent earwax build-up due to sleeping with earplugs is to thoroughly clean your ear canal every day or at least multiple times a week. Cleaning and replacing the earplugs also minimizes the risk of impaction.

Ear Infections

If you don’t regularly replace or clean your earplugs (in case they are reusable), your earplugs can become infected and contaminate your ear canal. Foam styles are more prone to bacteria build-up than silicone and wax designs. For this reason, most foam earplugs are designed for one-time use.

If you are wearing reusable earplugs, it’s vital to clean them properly after every use. Cleaning them is very easy; all you need to do is to put them in warm water and clean the dirt and earwax buildup. Once you are done with rubbing, rinse them with cold water. It’s important to rinse away all traces of soap because it can affect the structure the earplugs. After you are done, place them on a clean towel to dry.

Minimized Hearing

Since earplugs effectively block outside noise, they may pose a safety risk to people by preventing them from hearing certain activities in their home. Such activities include emergency situations, such as a fire or a home invasion. It may also prevent you from hearing or noticing a potential medical issue involving your family members or roommates. For this reason, people with young children are advised not to use earplugs often.

Considerations for First-Time Earplug Shoppers

If you are a first-time buyer, and you aren’t sure how to select the right earplugs and compare different brands here are some consideration you should keep in mind.

The Size of Your Ear Canal

Most models are designed as a one-size-fits-all, but it’s not unusual or rare that some models may be too narrow or too wide for some users. If you are one of those users, you should look for manufacturers and brands who design earplugs that have different sizes. You may also consider getting a moldable kit to create your own unique pair of earplugs.

The Shape of the Earplugs

The choice of shape mostly comes down to personal preference. Cylindrical models are the most common, but they tend to fall out of the ear often. If that is your case, bell-shaped or circular earplugs may be more suitable.

The Material of the Earplugs

The most common and cheapest option is foam earplugs. However, these are not durable or reusable as many silicone and wax models are. Silicone models are considered equally comfortable as foam earplugs. When it comes to wax models, they are usually encased with cotton for added comfort. Many users find wax earplugs most comfortable. Since our levels of comfort are different and somewhat unique, the choice of material mostly comes down to personal preference.

The Noise Reduction Rating

The NRR is definitely one of the most important considerations you should have in mind when shopping for earplugs. Typically, most earplugs have an NRR between 20 and 34. If you looking for noise cancelling ear plugs, it is best to look for models that have a noise reduction rating of 27 or higher.

Designed for One-Time Use or Reusable?

If you are a first-time buyer, our advice is to get cheaper one-time options and see if they work for you or not. If you find them useful for blocking outside noise and comfortable for sleeping, you can easily invest in reusable earplugs.

How Much Do the Earplugs Cost?

A box of 50 to 200 pairs of one-time-use earplugs will cost you less than $30. A box of reusable earplugs that typically contains 25 pairs costs $20 or less.

How to Block Out Noise without Earplugs?

Some people are unable to sleep peacefully despite wearing earplugs. So, how to block out noise without earplugs? If this sleep aid doesn’t work for you, you should consider other noise-blocking alternatives, such as wearing sleeping headphones or using white noise machines and noise-masking sleep apps. Let’s take a closer look at other effective noise-blocking options.

Sleeping Headphones

Listening to music or other pleasant sounds while you sleep can help block out irritating outside noise. Some studies suggest that listening to music before or during sleep can help you relax, lower your heart and stabilize your breathing. Most sleepers rely on headphones when they are dealing with a snoring partner, traffic noise or a loud roommate.

If you are thinking about getting headphones for sleeping, there is a wide array of options you can choose from. Most popular designs are in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear, but recently, you can also come across innovative models such as headbands or sleep masks. Headphones for sleep are relatively cheap, and decent models cost less than $30. However, there are also high-end and high-tech models that can cost more than $200. Take a look at our best headphones for sleeping guide for more information.

White Noise Machines

White noise machines produce random pleasant sounds that can effectively mask outside noise and enable you to sleep peacefully. Many people utilize these machines to fall asleep at night. Apart from white noise, these machines can produce other colors of noise, such as pink, blue, red and brown noise. All colors of noise decrease or increase volume per tempo to ensure the sleeper has a more balanced listening experience.

Most white noise machines sold on the market today come with speakers and headphone jacks to satisfy the many different needs of its users. The average price of these machines is less than $100, and they can easily be found online or at your local brick-and-mortar store. If you don’ feel like spending money on a white noise machine, you may use some home appliances, such as a fan, to mask unpleasant and irritable sounds, and at the same time, cool yourself a bit. During winter, a heater may also mask outside noise as a fan does in the summer.

Sleep Apps

Another alternative to noise blocking machines is noise blocking apps. Most of them are free and come with various white noise and ambient sounds. If the app is not free, its price never exceeds more than $2. Some of the most popular white noise apps that cost only $2 are Coffitivity, myNoise, Noisli, Sleep Fan, and White Noise. You can download more than one of these to see which one will suit you best.

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A wannabe journalist who somehow ended up as an art historian. She is a gamer, a coffee addict and a sleep aficionado. When she is not researching about sleep and finding out new ways to fight off the insomnia beast, she's spending time with her friends, gaming or visiting local museums.

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