Whether you live on a busy street, next to a neighbor who likes to decorate at midnight, or with a partner who snores, if noises keep you from getting a full night’s sleep, a good pair of earplugs might make all the difference. According to Dr. Chris Winter, a neurologist and the author of The Sleep Solution, “if you’re in an environment where you can’t control the noise around you — be it outside traffic or the person sleeping next to you — earplugs can help you to block out that noise.”
But will any regular old earplugs do or are there models designed specifically for sleeping? According to Winter, the most important things to look for when choosing a pair of sleep earplugs are “features specific to you: Will it stay in my ear? Will it fit comfortably? Do I want something that will play me alternative sounds, too?” All of these criteria, he says, are more important than the intended design of the device. To find The Best Earplugs for Sleeping that have proved effective at helping people with a range of ear shapes and noise issues catch more Zs, we asked Winter and six more experts — including sleep doctors and people who rely on earplugs to sleep — about the ones they use and recommend to anyone looking for a perfect pair.
Best wax earplugs for sleep
Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs
For a more affordable foam option, reporter Claire Bryan told us she’s long relied on these Mack’s earplugs for falling asleep in her apartment above Eastern Parkway, one of Brooklyn’s busiest thoroughfares. “I love that my bedroom windows look out onto a wide street with great trees, but the trade-off is constant car noise,” she told us, adding that this help reduce the sound so she can sleep. “After you pinch and place, they expand in your ears like a little pillow, and you can’t even feel them.” If her endorsement isn’t enough,
Best wax earplugs for sleep
these wax earplugs come recommended by two of our experts, both of whom note how wax earplugs, due to their material’s inherently moldable nature, may be a better choice for folks looking for a perfect fit. “They do an outstanding job of conforming to the ear to block out sound,” says Bill Fish, a certified sleep science coach and founder of Tuck Sleep. “But they are also quite comfortable, as they come with a soft cotton cover around the wax.” Fish admits that, at $5 for six pairs, these cost a bit more than foam earplugs, but he says “many users swear by [their] ability to block out ambient noises.” Rose Annis, the director of sales strategy and marketing at Atlas Obscura, is another fan of what she calls these “old-timey” wax earplugs. “The wax becomes pliable as it responds to your body heat, making them fit comfortably no matter how misshaped your ears might be,” she told us.
Best sleep earplugs for travel
If you’re looking for earplugs specifically designed to help you sleep on a flight, two of the experts we spoke to recommend these Earplanes’ silicone earplugs as a red-eye essential that can serve as a sleep aid at home, too. As the name suggests, they’re designed specifically for use on airplanes and have four rings meant to mitigate changes in air pressure (that also help to muffle crying babies and other in-flight noise). Dr. Michael Breus, the self-proclaimed Sleep Doctor (who is also a clinical psychologist and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine), told us that they were designed by the House Ear Institute, a leading ear surgery and research center in California, and were tested by U.S. Navy pilots before being introduced to the general public. The price shown is for one pair, but the earplugs are reusable, according to the brand.