Noise is one of the most common causes of not being able to fall asleep. Whether it’s from snoring, heavy breathing, loud neighbors, outside traffic, or barking dogs, each has the potential to keep us awake at night.
Unfortunately, we humans haven’t developed the ability to turn off our ears yet, but we do have the next best thing; ear plugs.
Below are the four of main types of ear plugs; foam, hard silicon, soft silicon, and wax, along with the most popular product of that type on Amazon.
For each ear plug I’ll review the following:
- Performance – How well they block out sound
- Comfort – How easy they are to sleep in
- Value for money – The cost effectiveness of the ear plug
Foam Ear Plugs – Howard Leight Max
This type of ear plug is by far the most common, made out of a material similar to memory foam. They’re designed to be used for a couple of days and then disposed of. To use, roll into a tight cylinder and insert into your ear. The foam will then expand to create a seal.
Pros of Foam Ear Plugs
- Very good at blocking out sound
- Very cheap
- Light and durable – easy to take with you while traveling
Cons of Foam Ear Plugs
- One size fits all, so if you have particularly small or large ear sizes, you’ll have difficulty getting a good seal
Foam ear plugs are cheap but effective, and easy to chuck into a suitcase whilst traveling. Just make sure they’ll fit your ear properly.
Price: $4.85 (20 pairs) | Buy from Amazon
Hard Silicon Ear Plugs – Mack’s Ear Seals
Hard silicon ear plugs fit in your ear in a similar way to in-ear earphones. To use, simply insert into your ear as far as is comfortable. The ridged surface prevents them from falling out while creating a snug fit.
Pros of Hard Silicon Ear Plugs
- Reusable – Saves time and money having to buy new pairs
- Creates a nice tight fit so they won’t fall out
Cons of Hard Silicon Ear Plugs
- Very uncomfortable to sleep with unless you sleep on your back
- Uncomfortably tight for smaller ear sizes
- Won’t fit large ear sizes properly
If you can find a pair of hard silicon ear plugs that fit your ear perfectly, they’re ideal for daily use, but just not for sleeping unless you only sleep on your back.
Price: $4.93 (1 pair) | Buy from Amazon
Soft Silicon Ear Plugs – Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs
These ear plugs are made from soft, squishy, and slightly sticky silicon. To use, mold into a roughly cylinder shape, insert into your ear and the stickiness of the silicon will hold it in place.
Pros of Soft Silicon Ear Plugs
- Very comfortable – Ideal for sleeping
- Moldable – Works well for all ear sizes
Cons of Soft Silicon Ear Plugs
- Sticky surface will quickly get dirty so you’ll need to replace these quicker than most ear plugs
- The least effective type of ear plug for blocking out sound
If you usually find ear plugs too uncomfortable to sleep in, then this is the ear plug for you. Unfortunately though, you do sacrifice performance for comfort.
Price: $5.99 ($3.00 / count) (2 pairs) | Buy from Amazon
Wax Ear Plugs – World’s Finest Ear Plug
Made from a combination of beeswax, lanolin and cotton. They feel similar to soft plasticine or blue tack. To use, mold into a cylinder shape with a rounded off end, similar to the shape of foam ear plugs, and gently inset into your ear, working it in as far as is comfortable.
Pros of Wax Ear Plugs
- Very good at blocking out sound, even better than most foam ear plugs
- Moldable – Ideal for all ear sizes
- Forms a very good seal around the ear
- Comfortable and ideal for sleep, although not quite as comfortable as soft silicon ear plugs
Cons of Wax Ear Plugs
- Prices vary, but these are usually the most expensive type of ear plug by far
- The ear plug becomes hard over time, so needs replacing after about a week
Wax ear plugs provide good comfort with great performance at blocking out sound. They’re most ideal if you can’t quite get a good fit with foam ear plugs or find that they fall out too easily at night.
Overall Verdict – Choosing The Best Ear Plugs For Sleeping
Deciding which ear plug to choose depends really on which one best meets your needs:
If you want a cheap, effective ear plugs and don’t have particularly large or small ears, go for the foam ear plugs
If you find it hard to sleep with ear plugs in and you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of noise reduction for comfort, grab some soft silicon ear plugs
If you want you want to block out as much sound as possible and don’t mind paying a premium to have the best, then you’ll be hard pressed to find better than wax ear plugs
There’s no right or wrong type of ear plug for sleeping, everyone has their favorite for a variety reasons. After reading the pros and cons of each, you should have a good idea of which type of ear plug would be best suited to you.
For tips on how to not just block noise, but also mask noise, see How to Mask and Block Out Unwanted Noise.