Ear plugs are a super-helpful piece of technology to have in your home or within easy access, for a lot of reasons. Not only are our ears sensitive to loud sounds, but there could also be times (such as when you are trying to sleep next to a snorer) when you need to block out noises to get the best quality of rest possible.
There could be a number of good reasons to wear ear plugs. You might need them while working, while driving, while attending a loud concert, while shooting a firearm, while using power tools, etc. In all of these applications, having and using the right earplugs can save your hearing and protect your ear drums from danger.
But in this section, and in the subsequent pages to follow, we will be focusing more specifically on one type of need for ear plugs. We will be focusing on obtaining and using the right types of ear plugs to wear if you are sleeping with someone who snores.
Sleeping next to a snorer can most definitely keep us awake at night—but ear plugs can help. And making sure that you buy the right type of ear plug is essential to this process—which is why we have taken it upon ourselves to compose this guide.
In this guide, we will talk about not only the different types of earplugs and what to expect from them, but will also give you some helpful options to choose from if you are beginning your search for the perfect products for your specific situation.
We will also be talking about the Noise Reduction Rating that every ear plug comes with. This is the rating that tells you how many decibels of sound the ear plug will protect you from/filter out.
How Effective Are Earplugs When Sleeping In A Noisy Environment?
Earplugs tend to be pretty effective at blocking out sound when you are trying to rest—though the different types also have their own limitations. There are also important details that you need to pay attention to when purchasing the right types of ear plugs for the job.
Earplugs could help you to filter out a number of different sounds while sleeping. They could be used for sleeping while traveling, for loud traffic noises, for the sounds of animals on a farm, for people who sleep close to railroad tracks, etc. And of course, they can also be helpful for keeping the sounds of a snoring partner at bay.
Of course, when it comes to wearing earplugs for sleeping, there are special considerations to keep in mind. You probably want a softer fit than some earplugs provide, because you are going to want to wear them all night. Stiffer earplugs could cause discomfort or pain for such extended periods of time, so making sure that you buy the right types of earplugs, made from the right material, is very important.
The Different Types Of Earplugs
Silicone earplugs can be reusable, moldable, soft, or hard… and are generally considered to be the sturdier of the different types of earplugs. The two most popular types of silicone earplugs are the soft type (which are better for sleeping), and the ‘hard’ type (not as comfortable for sleeping).
You will know the hard type because they will have little ‘ridges’ that help to form a seal within the ear canal. These are usually attached to a string. Soft silicone earplugs, however, are more like little balls of silicone that you push into the opening of the ear canal and then ‘flatten’ against the ear, which also forms a seal.
The soft silicone earplugs are most commonly used by swimmers, to keep water out of the ears… while the reusable silicone earplugs are more commonly used for things like shooting, worksite hearing protection, concerts, etc.
Wax earplugsWax is sometimes said to be the best earplug material around… but it is also expensive, and tends to ‘harden’ after a while, which means that they need to be replaced frequently. Earplugs made of wax are actually usually made from a blend of wax and cotton, and come in small round bits that you roll up and push into the ear canal. They then expand to form a seal.
They are great for sleeping, though they are still not quite as comfortable as soft silicone earplugs are. But they counteract this by usually having a higher rating, and are capable of blocking out more sound.
Most experts say that these are the ideal choice if you cannot get a good fit with foam earplugs, or if you can’t get foam earplugs to stay in all night.
Foam earplugs are the most common type of earplug in use today, for a lot of reasons. They can be used for a few days, and are usually designed to be thrown away after that.
To use them, you just roll them into a cylinder and place them in your ear canal. When they expand, they will form a quality seal that will help to block out loud sounds.
Foam earplugs are known for being inexpensive, good at protecting your ears, and for being both light and durable. But, they can also tend not to fit as well, due to their ‘one size fits all’ design. Since foam doesn’t have the same properties as wax or silicone, these earplugs can tend to be too big for some people, and too small for others.
If you can’t get a good fit with foam earplugs, then the soft silicone or wax types might be a better option.
What To Consider Before Buying
There are a lot of considerations to take into account when shopping for a new set (or type) of earplugs. Here are some of the most important details to consider.
Every set of earplugs will come with what is called an NRR number, or a Noise Reduction Rating. This is a unit of measurement that can tell you how effective the earplug is at blocking out sound. The higher the NRR number, the greater the potential for noise reduction.
Obviously, you will need a higher NRR for shooting guns or operating heavy machinery than you will for filtering out most snoring sounds, but still… a higher NRR is going to do you a lot more good. So look for comfort and accessibility, of course, but don’t overlook this number when shopping for the right earplugs for your needs.
Since you are going to be wearing these earplugs every night, all night, comfort is a huge concern. For this reason, hard silicone earplugs are probably not going to work for you. Soft silicone, wax, or foam are usually going to be the best options—with foam being difficult to beat in the ‘comfort’ category.
The only way to know for sure if a pair of earplugs is going to be comfortable, however, is to buy them and try them out… so you might have to try a few different types and brands before you find the ones that work the best for you.
Durability is a pretty big concern. Hard silicone, soft silicone, and wax earplugs are certainly more durable, with hard silicone earplugs taking the cake as the best of the best. But generally, the more durable the earplug is, the less-comfortable it will be in the long term.
Again, foam earplugs wear out quickly—but they are a lot more comfortable.
Also, the more durable the earplugs are, the less money you will spend in the long-run—so that is also something to consider.
Are you getting enough value for your money with the earplugs that you plan on buying? If you are going to be buying and using these every night, then you are going to want to make sure that you’re not wasting your money. You should buy earplugs that give you the most comfort, the most durability, the highest NRR number, and the best usefulness for your money.
So test out some different brands and types, and find the ones that work the best for you. And don’t scoff at cheaper models, either. Sometimes, cheap foam earplugs work just as good, if not even better, than more expensive options.
The three different types of material that you will be choosing from, in most cases, will be wax-cotton, foam, and silicone. They all have their pros and cons, but it is important to know how your ears respond to each one. Silicone and wax tend to fit a bit better for larger and smaller ears, but are a little less comfortable than foam. Foam is not as durable as silicone or wax, but it is cheaper and lighter-weight. Wax tends to give you the best NRR number, but it is also more expensive. There are trade-offs to each, so do your research and find out what fits and works the best for you.
You will find that the shapes of different earplugs will differ slightly from type to type and brand to brand. But keep in mind that all of them will need to be molded a bit before being used… so the shape doesn’t make as much a difference as you might think.
With that being said, however, you might find a particular shape to just be easier or better-suited to your ear canals, so this is another area where a bit of trial and error is required to find the best solution for you.
Hearos Ultimate Softness Ear Plugs
You can buy a 28 pack of these earplugs on Amazon.ca for just $19.99, which is a pretty awesome value for the price. They have an NRR number of 32, are said to be ‘super soft,’ are beige-colored, and are made in the USA. According to the product listing, these earplugs are actually recommended by physicians for sleeping, traveling, studying, concert-going, and for other loud events.
They are also pretty popular, with almost 2,000 reviews logged on Amazon alone. This is a good sign, as it shows that the product has likely been around for long enough to have a solid reputation with the online community.
Hearos are made from foam, which makes them lightweight, and gives them a quality NRR number. The type that we are reviewing here is the Ultimate Softness type, which is only one of the 5 different types of earplugs created by this company.
These earplugs are intended for general-purpose use, and are specially designed with noise reduction and comfort in mind. These earplugs are also a bit ‘smaller’ in size, making them an ideal fit for people with smaller ear canals.
These earplugs have a ‘bullet’ shape, which basically means that they are cylindrical, with one flat end and one rounded end. The rounded end is the end that goes into your ear, and the rounded part of it makes it easier to roll it before inserting it into the ear canal.
We like this shape for foam earplugs, as it really cuts down on the time it can take to ‘roll’ them properly. The only downside is that people with larger ear canals may find that they are more likely to ‘fall out’ during sleep.
Ease Of Use And Comfort
In looking at reviews for the product, we see a pretty solid performance rating for this type of Hearos earplug. They are considered to be very comfortable, and very inexpensive… but it comes at a bit of a cost. When compared with other types of earplugs, they do not provide quite as much noise isolation.
But, with that being said, they should do just fine for sleeping next to a snoring partner.
As far as comfort is concerned, these earplugs are said to work the best if you ‘roll from the tip.’ It might take a bit to perfect the rolling technique, but they are very comfortable and work very well once you get the hang of them.
Obviously, it all depends on your particular situation—but most people would agree that these ear plugs can provide you with a pretty good place to start. Some people seem to think that they are not as soft as advertised—but they have far more positive reviews than negative reviews, and we consider them a great product that anyone thinking about buying earplugs should try at least once.
Doppler Labs Dubs Acoustic Filters Advanced Tech Earplugs
These reusable, advanced tech earplugs use a special technology called ‘dynamic attenuation’ to filter out unwanted noise volume, though they are also able to do so while preserving the quality of the sound around you. They are specifically designed to help filter out critical midrange frequencies that are more likely to damage the ear, and are constructed to be both portable and complex, with 17 different individual parts utilized in their construction.
These earplugs are made from a range of different materials, and are designed to fit most adults ages 16 and up. They sell for $26.99 per pair.
These are technically reusable silicone earplugs… though they also contain small parts made of polymer foam, stainless steel, and even ABS. As reusable silicone earplugs, they are designed to be utilized more than once—so you certainly don’t have to throw them out until they actually wear out.
With everything that goes into these earplugs, they are designed with an average Noise Reduction Rating of 12dB, though they offer an even more impressive 24dB of protection in the critical-range frequencies, where damage is most likely to occur.
These earplugs are shaped like normal silicone earplugs, and are not so different from earbuds. But they do have a small speaker-looking piece that sticks out of the ear canal. And because of this, some people might find them uncomfortable for wearing to bed.
They’re actually designed more for use in acoustic, musical environments, such as concerts and shows… where you still want to hear the sounds, just at a lower level.
But, with that being said, some people do like to use them for sleeping as well. It just depends on the person and on how exactly they like to sleep.
Ease Of Use And Comfort
These earplugs are pretty easy to use. You just slip them in and go. No rolling or extra steps to fitting. As far as comfort is concerned, a lot of people seem to like how they fit… though we will also say that some people do not like to sleep in them. Because of how they are shaped, some people may find them painful or uncomfortable to wear all night long.
There have also been some people who complained that they did not filter out enough sound. But of course, this all varies by person and situation.
This is an interesting product that can actually filter out some noise without muddying the rest of it. But their shape does make them a bit tricky to wear while sleeping. If you want an earplug that will filter out some noise and leave the rest, then these might be the way to go. They really are quite high-tech, and a lot of people do like them.
3M E-A-R Classic Earplugs
If you’ve ever shopped for earplugs before (or spent time around someone who wore earplugs on a regular basis), then you have probably been exposed to this brand and type of earplug in the past. 3M Classic Earplugs could quite possibly be called an industry standard, and are about as well known in the earplug world as any other classic name-brand product.
These disposable earplugs come in a box of 30, cost just $15.90, are sweat and moisture resistant, and come with a ‘one size fits most’ sizing standard. They are cylindrical, and rated at 29dB NRR.
These earplugs are affectionately known as ‘the world’s first foam earplugs.’ They are constructed from slow-recovery foam, and are also flame resistance in addition to being moisture resistant. Plus, they expand well in the ear canal, making them an ideal product for anyone interested in trying some disposable foam earplugs for sleeping.
These earplugs are a standard cylindrical shape, meaning that they are cylinder-shaped with two flat ends. This is a very widely used shape for earplugs, and is pretty much an industry standard. Some newer earplugs are tapered a bit to make them easier to roll before inserting them into the ear canal—but despite not being tapered, 3M Classic foam earplugs have a reputation for fitting well and being extremely comfortable.
Ease Of Use And Comfort
These earplugs must be ‘rolled’ before being inserted into the ear canal. So for that reason, they might take a bit of getting used to.
As for comfort, they have an overwhelmingly positive reputation online. On Amazon.ca, 78% of reviews are 5 star reviews, and only 9% of reviews are less than 3 stars. They are described as comfortable, and are said to work extremely well by the vast majority of reviewers.
We actually love 3M Classic Earplugs, and absolutely feel like anyone interested in trying a foam earplug should give them a try. These have been an industry standard for years. They were quite groundbreaking when they first came out, and 3M has certainly set a high standard for foam earplugs with this amazing and innovative product.
Ohropax Classic Wax Earplugs
Ohropax Classic Wax Earplugs come in a pack of 6 pairs for just $12.94. As you can probably already tell, wax earplugs do tend to be more expensive than foam plugs—but they also have a better reputation for performance when it comes to filtering out sound.
These particular earplugs are made in Germany, but they are easy to get in Canada because they are sold on Amazon.ca, which is awesome.
The NRR number for these earplugs is 27, which is actually quite high. But that is not surprising, seeing as how wax earplugs usually tend to have a higher rating than foam plugs.
As with most wax earplugs, this product is actually made with wax, and covered in cotton. For this reason, they work well for a variety of different purposes. They can be used during sleep, for studying, at concerts, around loud machinery, or even while swimming to keep water out of your ear. They form a solid seal, and really help to protect your sensitive ear canal and eardrum from damage and pressure.
Reviewers seem to agree that these earplugs, when taken care of, can last about two weeks if you only wear them while sleeping and keep them in the container when not in use. But they are disposable, so they start to dry out and become too dirty after this to really be of much use.
Obviously, they might not last that long for all users. Some people find it impossible to use wax earplugs for more than a few days to a week before throwing them out. It all depends on your situation.
These earplugs are round when you first remove them from the packaging. In order to use them, you have to shape them and place them into your ear. The round shape is pretty standard for wax earplugs, which have a reputation for blocking sound and fitting much better than their cheaper foam counterparts.
The only downside is the cost. Wax earplugs are just about twice as expensive as foam earplugs, if not even more so. But they are also very well-liked among users, and this particular brand is one of the most popular on the market. The simple fact of the matter is that most people love these plugs.
Ease Of Use And Comfort
As for ease of use, wax earplugs do require a bit of practice to get used to. First of all, you have to roll them in your hands to warm up the wax. Then, you have to roll them up in your fingers to shape them so that you can fit one end into your ear canal.
Then, once you have them in, you press the other end to seal it against your ear… and that should leave you good to go. When properly fitted, these earplugs are super-comfortable, and should protect you from not only noise, but also from water if you are a swimmer.
This is one of our favorite earplug products on the market, and for good reason. If you are looking for a lot of comfort, and if you really want to make sure that the sound is filtered out well while you sleep, then these earplugs will probably not let you down. They do cost a bit more than foam earplugs do—but if you like wax earplugs or want to give them a try, then they are more than worth it.
DownBeats Reusable High Fidelity EarPlugs
Downbeats are considered ‘hard’ silicone earplugs that are reusable. In other words, these are not disposable earplugs. You are supposed to be able to use them continually, night after night, until they wear out… so they have a longer lifespan than most other earplugs.
You can buy a single pair of these earplugs, along with a carrying case, on Amazon.ca for $13.95. So they are a bit on the expensive side. But they are very well-received by customers, and have an average rating of 4 stars, which is pretty good.
They are also said to have an NRR number of 18dB, which is not bad at all.
These are made from hard silicone, but they are still said to be quite comfortable. They are also durable, and most people agree that they have a lot of longevity to provide users who take good care of them. One review that we found said that you should try to keep them dry, however. For some reason, when the material gets wet, the product takes on an unpleasant smell that is hard to get rid of.
These earplugs are shaped like earbuds or any other hard silicone earplug. With that being said, the stems are just a little bit short on them, and some people have complained that you can get them stuck in your ears if you aren’t careful… so it might be worthwhile to be careful of that while trying them out.
Ease Of Use And Comfort
These earplugs are pretty easy to use. You simply insert them into the ear canal until they comfortably create a seal, and then you are good to go.
As far as comfort is concerned, we heard a mixture of reviews on them. Most people like them, but some people say that they are too hard to sleep in and are not comfortable to use all night long. Once again, this varies by person—so if you want a set of earplugs that are going to last longer, and you are not a fan of wax or foam, then these might be the way to go.
We are not usually a huge fan of hard silicone earplugs for sleeping in, but these are not so bad. They have a shorter stem and a very sleek outer profile. This is partly what can make them difficult to remove… but this same feature also makes them better for sleeping than most hard silicone earplugs.
If you are interested in silicone earplugs that you won’t have to throw away and keep buying over and over again, then these earplugs, by Downbeats, might just be the ticket.
Comparison of Top 5 Earplugs Available In Canada
|Brand||Material||Price Per Earplug||Reusable?||Website|
|Brand||Material||Price Per Earplug||Reusable?||Website|
|Hearos Ultimate Softness||Foam||0.36 (CDN$)||No||Find on Amazon|
|Doppler Labs Dubs||Silicone||13.50 (CDN$)||Yes||Find on Amazon|
|3M E-A-R Classic||Foam||0.22 (CDN$)||No||Find on Amazon|
|Ohropax Classic||Wax||0.98 (CDN$)||No||Find on Amazon|
|DownBeats Reusable||Silicone||6.98 (CDN$)||Yes||Find on Amazon|
Q: Is it safe to wear earplugs while you sleep?
A: The answer is actually a ‘yes’ and a ‘no.’ Using earplugs every single night does put you at risk for some ear-related problems, including impacted earwax, ear infections, and discomfort related to pushing the earplugs too far into the ear canal.
But, with that being said, earplugs do not always cause these problems, and might cause much less harm over time than sleep deprivation would. The key is to keep your earplugs clean and to exercise the proper technique when using them.
Q: Why would anyone use wax earplugs when there are foam earplugs available?
A: It is true that wax, in most cases, is more expensive. But, wax also tends to be more comfortable, and also tends to block out more noise in real-life situations. Plus, some say that wax earplugs put you at a decreased risk for impacted earwax. We are not sure if this can be validated… but it is a rumor that we are looking into.
Q: Which are better: Silicone, wax, or foam?
A: This depends. Foam is cheaper and easy to use. Wax tends to work better. Silicone lasts longer, but is usually a lot more expensive and not as comfortable.
Q: What should you look for when purchasing earplugs for sleeping?
A: You want them to be comfortable, but you also want them to work well. You will probably also want to weigh the cost of the product. Generally, you want to try multiple products and figure out which one works the best for you. If you are sleeping in them, comfort is going to be a huge factor.
Q: How much should you plan on spending for quality ear plugs?
A: A good pair of hard silicone earplugs will cost you more than $10 in most cases. Disposable foam earplugs are the cheapest, and you can buy some really good ones in large quantities for less than $20 in most cases. Wax is also a bit more expensive, and will cost you about twice as much as foam will.
Q: There are some super-cheap earplugs at my local pharmacy. Should I give them a try?
A: You can, but just be aware that you sometimes get what you pay for. Pay attention to how well they perform, and whether or not they make you uncomfortable or cause any pain over the course of the night. No earplugs should ever cause you pain. If a product makes you uncomfortable, discontinue use and find something else.
Q: It seems like most people buy foam earplugs. Why?
A: Foam earplugs are the cheapest, the easiest to find, and are very simple to use. A lot of people never try anything but foam, so they do not know how different wax, or even soft silicone earplugs, can be. There is nothing wrong with foam, but we would actually recommend trying wax and silicone as well before settling on one particular type and brand.