Are you getting the recommended eight hours sleep per night? If not, it could be time to take a closer look at your sleep habits. Many people don’t get enough sleep because they’re disrupted by exterior noises, such as outside traffic, loud neighbours or a snoring partner. Unfortunately, we humans haven’t yet developed the ability to turn off our ears, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to block the sounds that are stopping you from getting the sleep you need. Earplugs are one of the simplest and most effective solutions. They’re also very affordable, with prices starting at as little as a dollar.
Why use earplugs
Sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing, and so it’s vital that you do all you can to ensure that you get sufficient sleep. If you’re not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, you’re more likely to suffer from a range of serious health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. With so many sleep aids on the market, you might be wondering why you should use earplugs. Earplugs aren’t just cheap and readily available to buy quickly and easily online; they’re also very good at helping you fall asleep easily and stay asleep throughout the night, ensuring that you wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
What to look for when buying earplugs for sleeping
There’s a wide range of earplugs for sleeping on the market, and so knowing which to choose can be a very difficult task. Therefore, it’s important to consider your options carefully to ensure that you select the right pair for you.
Noise reduction rating
One factor that you’ll need to consider when buying earplugs is noise reduction rating. The highest rating available is 39, which means that any noises under 39 decibels will be blocked. For reference, a whisper is approximately 15 decibels, whilst a normal conversation is roughly 60. The further away you are from the noise, the lower it will sound. If it’s coming from a nearby room with the door shut, you may not hear it if you have earplugs in.
Level of comfort
It’s essential that earplugs are comfortable to wear, otherwise you won’t be able to sleep, which is why you bought them in the first place! A good way to find out which are the most comfortable is to try a few. Fortunately, most are inexpensive enough that you can test out a few so that you can find the ones that fit you best. If they don’t fit you well, they won’t just be uncomfortable to wear; they also won’t be very effective at blocking out noise.
Ease of use
If earplugs are difficult to insert and remove, they become a chore to use, which means they’ll probably be left sitting on your night stand gathering dust, rather than helping you achieve a restful night’s sleep. Earplugs should insert easily and effortlessly into your ears, and there should never be any pain or discomfort.
Durability should be considered when purchasing earplugs for sleeping. After all, you’ll be wearing them multiple times, and so they should be robust enough to withstand being re-molded to fit your ears, as well as frequent cleaning. If they can’t, it could be time to replace them.
Different types of earplugs
There are different types of earplugs to choose from, including wax earplugs, foam earplugs, silicone earplugs and premolded earplugs. Here’s a rundown to help you choose the best earplugs for you…
Wax earplugs have been used for hundreds of years to help people sleep. They consist of a mixture of paraffin and wax which is covered in cotton. Soft and gentle on the skin, they provide a snug and comfortable fit. One of the benefits of wax earplugs over foam earplugs is that they stay clean longer and are easy to clean. This means that they usually last a long time before needing to be thrown away and replaced. Ohropax Reusable Wax/cotton Ear Plugs are one of the bestselling wax earplugs. With an impressive noise reduction rating of 23 dB (NRR23), they provide an effective seal against noise, helping you to get the sleep that you need. These wax earplugs fit comfortably into the ear canal and are easy to insert and remove. They’re also reusable and come with a free clear carry case, making them ideal for use on the go.
There are various types of foam used in earplugs, but by far the most common is polyurethane. This is the same material that’s used in memory foam mattresses. As such, it has the same qualities as memory foam, bouncing back so that it makes a tight seal in the ear. This ensures that sound is blocked effectively, helping you to get to sleep quickly and remain asleep for longer. One disadvantage to foam earplugs is that they don’t last very long. The porosity of the material means that bacteria grows after a certain amount of time. Having said this, because foam earplugs are so affordable, it’s not too much of an expense to buy multiple pairs. The Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Ear Plugs are a good buy. You get 50 pairs, and with a noise reduction rating of 32 decibels, they will do a great job of blocking out the noise that’s preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Made from high quality polyurethane foam, Ear Buddy foam earplugs are non-abrasive and comfortable to insert and remove. Mack's Ear Care Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs are another good choice. At under $9 for 50 pairs, they represent great value for money. They also have a noise reduction rating of 32 decibels, making them an effective noise blocker. These earplugs are made with very low pressure, slow release, Comfy Cush™ Comfort Foam.
Silicone earplugs are similar to wax earplugs. They consist of small balls of supple material that must be softened in the hands. The earplugs can then be placed into the ear, making a tight seal so that sound can be blocked. What makes silicone earplugs slightly different to wax versions is that they bounce back somewhat, moulding to the inside of the ear more effectively. They can also be reused, and last a lot longer than wax earplugs. Some people say that silicone earplugs are sticky and that they get stuck in their hair, but not all have this property. Some are non-sticky, and these are the ones you should opt for. The PUAroom 27dB U Shape Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs have been professionally designed, with their unique U-shape allowing for easy insertion and removal. They contour to the shape of your ears, staying put for hours without pain or discomfort. Made from natural soft silicone material that is hypoallergenic and non-toxic, you won’t need to worry about experiencing itchiness or allergic reactions. QuietSound multiple-use earplugs are another popular option worth considering.
Premolded earplugs are an option, however they come with some drawbacks. They tend to be dense and not very forgiving for shaping into the ear canal. This makes them difficult to wear, particularly for long periods. However, they do offer some of the highest quality noise reduction (they’re commonly worn by construction workers on building sites), and so sacrificing a snug fit might be worth it in some cases.
Do’s and don’ts of earplug use
Wearing earplugs can be a highly effective way of blocking out noise, allowing you to sleep more soundly. However, it’s important to use them correctly, or they may not do their job. What’s more, they could also cause injury if you don’t use them appropriately.
Remove them slowly. If earplugs fit snugly, a vacuum effect can occur, resulting in eardrum damage.
Make sure ears are dry before insertion. An ear infection could occur if water isn’t allowed to escape.
Push them too far into the ear canal. Only push them as far as is comfortable, else the eardrum could be ruptured.
Wear them every night. Only wear them when you really need to.
Forget to remove them. Always remember to take them out when you wake up.
Wear anyone else’s earplugs.
Earplug safety considerations
One of the most dangerous possible side effects of wearing ear plugs is infection. Although it isn’t common, it’s something that you need to consider, particularly if you’re planning on using ear plugs regularly. Earplugs can make a lovely home for bacteria if they’re not looked after properly. This is especially true for foam earplugs, as they’re porous in nature, which can make for a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Putting earplugs which are infected with bacteria into your ears can lead to an ear infection, which as well as being painful, could cause lasting damage. Therefore, it’s important to clean your earplugs after every use, or alternatively choose single-use ear plugs. Earplugs should be cleaned with warm, soapy water and then fully dried before being inserted into your ears.
Compacted ear wax
Wearing earplugs on a regular basis can affect your ears’ ability to drain wax. This can lead to some potentially serious side effects. Compacted wax can result in you hearing ringing or fluttering sounds, and you may experience infection or hearing loss. As such, it makes sense to clean your ears more frequently than you usually would should you decide to wear earplugs regularly.
Blocking important sounds
Whilst it’s great to find a pair of earplugs that works so well that they block out the noises that are keeping you awake at night, sometimes they can work far too well. This means that you may not hear the sounds that you need to hear, such as a crying baby, or a smoke alarm. A smoke alarm is high pitched enough that it’s unlikely that you won’t hear it, however it is possible if you’re sleeping deeply and using good sound blocking earplugs. There is a possibility that you won’t wake up from the alarm. This is an important consideration to keep in mind when using ear plugs.
Earplugs are an inexpensive solution to a serious problem. They can block out disruptive noises effectively, helping you to get the sleep your need for your health and wellbeing. Whether it’s traffic, sirens, noisy neighbours or a snoring spouse that’s keep you awake, it’s worth seeing if earplugs can help you to get a restful night’s sleep. It’s possible that you won’t find the right earplugs for you the first time around, but because they’re so affordable, it really is worth testing a few different ones to see if there is one out there that suits your needs. Many people try the most expensive measures first in their attempts to get adequate sleep, but for many people, good quality earplugs are all that’s required.