Soundproof Sleep: Discovering the Magic of Sleeping with Earplugs

Written by Dr. Naveeda Adam on Wed, 21 February 2024

Key Highlights

  • Earplugs create a quieter sleep environment by effectively blocking external noises.
  • Minimizing disruptions leads to deeper, more restful sleep and improved overall well-being.
  • Foam, silicone, and wax options cater to diverse preferences and comfort levels.
  • Correct insertion and regular cleansing ensure optimal effectiveness and longevity.
  • Factors like material, size, and alternatives such as white noise machines impact earplug choice.  
  • Seeking professional advice is crucial, especially for those with ear conditions. 

Sleep is an essential part of our daily routine, and a good night’s sleep is crucial for our overall well-being. However, many of us struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep due to external noises that can disrupt our sleep patterns. This is where earplugs come in.

Earplugs are small devices that are designed to block out or reduce the intensity of external sounds. They are typically made from soft, moldable materials such as foam or silicone that fit snugly into the ear canal.

In this article, we will delve into the benefits of sleeping with earplugs and explore how they can help create a quiet sleep environment, ultimately improving the quality of your restorative rest.

Benefits of using earplugs for sleep

  • One of the main benefits of using earplugs for sleep is their ability to block out noise disturbances.

By reducing the amount of noise that reaches our ears, earplugs create a quieter environment, allowing us to fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night. This can be particularly useful for those who live in noisy urban areas or have noisy neighbors.

  • In addition to blocking out external noise, using earplugs can also have a positive impact on sleep quality and overall well-being. When we are exposed to excessive noise during sleep, our sleep cycles can be disrupted, leading to fragmented or shallow sleep. This can result in feeling more tired and less refreshed upon waking up.

By using earplugs to minimize noise disturbances, we can promote deeper and more restful sleep. This allows our bodies and minds to fully recharge during the night, improving our energy levels, mood, and cognitive function during the day.

Types of earplugs

Types of earplugs

1. Foam earplugs

Foam earplugs are one of the most commonly used types. They are made from a soft and pliable material that expands to fit the shape of your ear canal. These earplugs provide excellent noise reduction, making them ideal for blocking out loud sounds like snoring or traffic noise.

Foam earplugs are also affordable and disposable, making them convenient for travel. However, some people find them uncomfortable to wear for long periods as they can cause pressure buildup in the ears.

2. Silicone earplugs

Silicone earplugs are another popular option. They are reusable and can be easily cleaned with mild soap and water.

Silicone earplugs offer a customizable fit as they can be molded to the shape of your ear canal. This makes them comfortable to wear throughout the night without causing any discomfort.

Additionally, silicone earplugs provide good noise reduction, allowing you to sleep peacefully even in noisy environments. However, they may not be suitable for individuals with sensitive ears as they can sometimes irritate.

3. Wax earplugs

Wax earplugs are a more natural alternative compared to foam or silicone plugs. They are made from a mixture of natural waxes and cotton fibers, which creates a soft and moldable texture.

Wax earplugs conform to the shape of your ear canal, providing a snug fit and effective noise reduction. These plugs are particularly gentle on the skin and do not cause any discomfort or pressure buildup.

However, wax earplugs can be slightly more expensive than other options, and they require regular replacement as they tend to lose their shape over time.

Proper insertion and usage

Step 1: Clean hands

Before inserting earplugs, it's important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This will help prevent any dirt or bacteria from getting into your ears.

Step 2: Roll and shape

Take the earplug between your thumb and index finger and gently roll it into a tight cylinder shape. This helps to compress the foam, making it easier to insert into your ear canal.

Step 3: Pull your ear

Reach over your head with one hand and gently pull the top of your ear upward. This straightens the ear canal, making it easier to insert the earplug.

Step 4: Insertion

With your other hand, use your fingers to insert the rolled earplug into your ear canal. Push it in gently until it feels snug but not uncomfortable. Remember, you don't want to push it too far inside as that can cause discomfort or damage to your ears.

Step 5: Hold and expand

Hold the earplug in place for a few seconds while it expands inside your ear canal. This allows the foam to conform to the shape of your ear, creating a seal that blocks out unwanted noise.

Tips for maintaining the cleanliness and longevity of earplugs

  • Cleanse regularly: To keep your earplugs clean, rinse them with warm water after each use. You can also use a mild soap if needed. Make sure to completely dry them before reusing them.
  • Store properly: It's important to store your earplugs in a clean and dry container when not in use. This helps prevent dust, dirt, or other contaminants from settling on them.
  • Replace as needed: Earplugs can accumulate dirt and lose their effectiveness over time. It is recommended to replace them regularly, especially if you notice any signs of wear and tear.

Choosing the right earplugs

Choosing the right earplugs

Here are some factors to consider when selecting earplugs

  • Material: Earplugs come in various materials, each with unique features. Foam earplugs are soft and moldable, effectively blocking out noise. Silicone earplugs are durable and reusable for long-term use. Wax or cotton earplugs offer a comfortable and natural feel.
  • Size: The size of the earplug is important for both comfort and effectiveness. Most earplugs come in one-size-fits-all options, but some brands offer different sizes to accommodate different ear shapes. It's essential to choose earplugs that fit properly without causing discomfort or falling out during sleep.
  • Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): The noise reduction rating measures how much noise an earplug can block out. The higher the NRR, the more effective the earplug will be at reducing noise levels.

Recommendations for different sleeping situations

  • Travel: For frequent travelers, compact and portable earplugs are essential. Choose ones that come with a carrying case or pouch. Look for foam or silicone earplugs with a high NRR to effectively block out airplane noise and other disturbances.
  • Noisy neighborhoods: Living in a noisy area can make it difficult to sleep. Use high NRR earplugs to block out traffic, sirens, and other disturbances.
  • Snoring partners: If your partner's snoring sounds keep you up at night, earplugs can be a game-changer. Look for earplugs specifically designed to block out snoring sounds. These earplugs are typically made of foam and offer excellent noise-reduction capabilities.

Addressing safety concerns

To ensure safe usage, make sure to choose earplugs that are specifically designed for sleeping. These earplugs are typically made of soft and hypoallergenic materials that are gentle on the ears.

It’s advisable to insert them properly by rolling them into a small cylinder shape and then gently inserting them into the ear canal. Remember not to push them in too far as this can cause discomfort or impact wax build-up.

Additionally, it's crucial to clean your earplugs regularly to maintain hygiene. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and storage. Avoid sharing your earplugs with others to minimize the risk of infections.

Alternatives to earplugs

While earplugs can be beneficial for most people, certain individuals may need alternative solutions for their sleep.

Let’s explore some of these alternatives:

  • White noise machines: White noise machines produce a constant sound to mask other noises. They fill the room with soothing sounds, drowning out disruptions like traffic or snoring. You can find them online or at electronics stores.
  • Soundproof curtains: To reduce external noise, invest in soundproof curtains. These curtains are made with thick, heavy materials that block noise from entering your bedroom. They absorb sound waves and create a quieter sleep environment. Choose from various styles and colors to match your bedroom decor.

When might it be more appropriate to use alternatives?

Sharing a bed: If you share a bed with a partner who snores or moves around during the night, using white noise machines may be a better option. This way, both you and your partner can benefit from a quieter sleep environment without relying solely on earplugs.

Sensitivity to earplugs: Some individuals may experience discomfort or irritation when wearing earplugs for long periods. In such cases, trying alternative methods like white noise machines or soundproof curtains can provide relief while still creating a quiet sleeping environment.

Specific noise concerns: Certain noises may be better addressed with specific methods. For example, if you live in a busy city with constant traffic noise, soundproof curtains might be more effective in reducing the overall noise level.

Seeking professional advice

Professional advice from a healthcare provider is particularly crucial if you have a history of ear infections, wax buildup, or any other medical condition that may affect the health of your ears. They can provide personalized guidance based on your unique situation and help you determine if sleeping with earplugs is a suitable option for you.

Additionally, if you experience any discomfort or pain while using earplugs, it is advisable to seek professional advice. Your healthcare provider can assess the situation and recommend alternative solutions or adjustments that may alleviate any discomfort.

Consulting with a healthcare provider also allows for proper diagnosis and treatment of any underlying issues that may be contributing to your sleep disturbances.

Earplugs may not always be the best solution if there are underlying factors that need to be addressed. It’s always better to address the root cause of the problem rather than simply masking the symptoms.


After exploring the benefits and considerations of sleeping with earplugs, it is clear that using earplugs can be a valuable tool for enhancing sleep quality. By blocking out unwanted noise and creating a peaceful sleep environment, earplugs can help promote a deeper and more restful sleep experience.

For those who live in urban or noisy environments, earplugs can be especially beneficial in reducing the impact of external disturbances such as traffic, construction noise, or loud neighbors.

Additionally, earplugs for sleeping can be particularly helpful for individuals who are sensitive to sound or easily disturbed by even minor noises. Whether it’s snoring partners, barking dogs, or street traffic, earplugs provide a barrier that helps create a quiet and serene sleeping atmosphere.

While earplugs can be beneficial, they may not be suitable or necessary for everyone. Consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns or experience discomfort while wearing them.


Dr. Naveeda Adam

Dr Naveeda Adam is currently Medical Officer of the Gastrology Department at the Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salam, Tanzania.

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Current Version

Feb, 21 2024

Written By

Dr. Naveeda Adam