Ideally, we wouldn’t need earplugs to fall asleep, but that doesn’t account for neighbors, construction, and traffic. In reality, many of us must search for the best earplugs for sleeping instead, in the hopes of quieter nights to come. Luckily, there’s a wide array of earplugs out there, from ones made of soft foam to noise-canceling earbuds to custom molded earplugs you can get from an audiologist. We talked to sleep experts to figure out how to choose the right ones for you.
“The type of earplug [you use] comes down to personal preference,” Kimberly Nelson, M.D., otolaryngologist at Rocky Mountain ENT Associates, tells SELF. She adds that your sleeping position and ear size can influence your ultimate choice, but it could still require a bit of trial and error to find a pair that you really like (and that actually help you get the rest you deserve). And don’t be afraid to embrace that process—the inexpensive disposable earplugs from your local drugstore could be exactly what you’re looking for: “Often patients report the simple foam ear plugs are the most comfortable and cheapest,” Dr. Nelson explains.
So it’s really up to you where your earplug test drive begins, but there are a few things to keep in mind. For one thing, be careful with plugs made of putty or silicone, as these can degrade or move farther into the ear canal than is safe. “I have removed a great deal of putty earplugs that were inserted too far into the ear canal or fell apart in the canal,” Dr. Nelson says, adding that it’s fine to use these kinds of earplugs as long as you replace them frequently and insert them carefully.
Srikant Kondapaneni, M.D., chief of pulmonary medicine at Englewood Health, tells SELF that he recommends cleaning or changing out your sleeping earplugs every few days in order to avoid getting an infection (or a pimple). Dr. Kondapaneni also points to wax earplugs as an especially good option for sleeping, since they’re effective at noise-blocking yet still comfy.
Whether you catch the most z’s with high-end smart earbuds or low-tech foam plugs, rest assured that there is a pair of earplugs that will work for your napping needs and turn the ruckus that keeps you up at night into a murmur. Below, with Dr. Nelson’s and Dr. Kondapaneni’s general guidance in mind, we selected some of the most highly rated, enthusiastically reviewed, and simply the best earplugs for sleeping that are suitable from a material, comfort, and, most important, sound-blocking standpoint. And when you’re done browsing here, don’t forget to complete your bedtime ensemble with a light-blocking sleep mask.
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