Finally Get A Quiet Night's Sleep For Less Than $20 With These Noise-Blocking Earplugs

by Tiana Crump
Nelen / Shutterstock

If you’re a light sleeper, have a partner who snores, live in a high-traffic area, or are just having trouble falling asleep, the best noise-canceling earplugs for sleeping can help. Although no hearing protection device completely blocks out all sound, noise-canceling earplugs help block a lot of sound vibrations from reaching your eardrum to limit the amount of noise that you hear and create a much quieter environment so that you can rest easy.

When choosing the best pair for sleeping, it’s important to pay attention to its noise reduction rating, also called NRR. This number tells you how much the device can reduce sound exposure in decibels. A decibel is a measurement of sound intensity which typically ranges from 0 to 194. Mild to moderate snoring, for example, tends to vary from 40 to 60 decibels, so an NRR 28 pair of earplugs would reduce a jarring 60 decibels down to 32 decibels, the sound level of whispering nearby. The higher the NRR of your device, the more sound it will be able to block out.

There are three main types of earplugs to choose from:

  • Foam earplugs are soft and affordable, but the foam material makes them prone to bacteria, so regularly replacing them is a good idea. Some people also find foam earplugs to be too large for their ears, which is why I've included a set of smaller ones specially designed for sleep.
  • Silicone earplugs, on the other hand, are reusable, but some find them to be uncomfortable to wear while sleeping, especially side-sleepers. And while there are softer silicone earplugs available, they usually have lower NRRs.
  • Wax earplugs easily mold to the size of your ear, giving you a snug fit, but they’re susceptible to ear residue and other substances sticking to them. According to some Amazon reviewers, the way they feel takes some getting used to.

Alternatively, if you enjoy listening to music, meditations, or ASMR before you sleep, there are also electronic earbuds designed specifically for sleeping, and I’ve included a pair of those here. Though they have noise-cancelling double-layer silicone earplugs, no NRR is given for these.

To help make the selection process easier, here’s my roundup of the best noise-canceling earplugs for sleeping. All of these top-rated picks will block unwanted sounds to make drifting off to sleep easier.


The Best Overall Foam Earplugs For Sleeping

  • Noise reduction rating: 35 decibels

This container of foam earplugs are soft and a great price for 60 pairs, so you won't have to hesitate before replacing them to avoid bacteria growth. These earplugs are bell-shaped to fit comfortably inside your ear while reducing up to 35 decibels of noise. They also come with an aluminum carrying case which is excellent for travel. Amazon reviewers have been thrilled with this pick, giving it a 4.3-star rating after more than 900 reviews, with many noting that they fit comfortably and securely. While these have the highest NRR on this list by 3 decibels, those with small ear canals might find them to be a better fit since they're 30% smaller than most foam earplugs.

What fans say: “I have worn earplugs nightly since college. Ive been through several brands that left my ears sore or didnt fit well. These are the complete opposite! They are lighter than any brand Ive used before, and they dont rub or pop out in your sleep.”


The Best Silicone Earplugs For Sleeping

  • Noise reduction rating: 32 decibels

The ANBOW reusable silicone earplugs allow you to sleep peacefully through the night. These silicone earplugs are reusable, too, so they'll save you money and reduce waste. They're made with ultra-soft, ergonomic silicone to fit and conform to your ear and effectively block out up to 32 decibels of noise. They’re also washable, hypoallergenic, BPA-free, and waterproof, so you could even use them to go swimming. However, because the handle sticks out, they might not be the best choice for side-sleepers.

What fans say: “These ear plugs cancel out the background noise when I sleep (I live near an airport and planes fly during the night). [...] They are soft and comfortable so they don't disrupt my sleep.”


The Best Wax Earplugs for Sleeping

  • Noise reduction rating: 32 decibels

PQ Earplugs For Sleep are wax earplugs you can mold to your ear canals for the perfect fit. They block up to 32 decibels of sound to drown out snoring, TV, and other noises, and each package comes with 12 wax plugs (which you can use for one or two ears depending on your preferences) and two pairs of foam earplugs if you want to change things up. These earplugs are clear and virtually invisible when placed in your ear. They’re also waterproof and are a good multipurpose option for those who want to use them for swimming or other activities. However, because wax can pick up ear residue, wax earplugs are not the best for reuse.

What fans say: “I wear ear plugs every time I sleep due to loud neighbors and a snorer. These are so comfortable, you just squish them slightly in your ear. They are like moldable clay. They block out almost all noise. Other earplugs were giving me sore ears and these don’t. It feels a little strange at first, but it does not irritate my ears.”


The Best Overall Earplugs For Small Ears

  • Noise reduction rating: 32 decibels

For small ear canals, the PQ small earplugs for sleep are a specially designed choice that more than 100 reviewers have given a 4.4-star rating. These can reduce noise by 32 decibels, like most of the choices here, yet are 30% smaller than most foam earplugs, making them extra-comfortable for those with smaller ears. The brand even recommends them for side sleepers. Each pack includes 20 pairs and a convenient carrying case for travel.

What fans say: “I have small ear canals and these are by far the most comfortable foam ear plugs I’ve ever used. Noise cancellation is more than I expected. For those who want complete noise cancellation it would be extremely difficult to find that in any foam ear plug. In that case custom-made earplugs would be the solution. Love these ear plugs...highly recommend and will buy again.”


Also Great: These Noise-Isolating Earbuds Designed For Sleeping

  • Noise reduction rating: None given, but do feature noise-cancelling, double-layer silicone earplug

If you like some music or white noise before you fall asleep, the Mijiaer noise-isolating sleep earbuds are a great option. They feature an ergonomic design and flexible silicone material to fit comfortably in your ears. You can connect them to any 3.5-millimeter jack device, and the cord length is also long to give you the ability to move around a little. While some reviewers noted that the sound-quality was not the highest, they are a very affordable choice.

What fans say: “I sleep on my side, so it's usually very uncomfortable sleeping with earbuds in. These don't have the usual hard plastic piece that covers the cord at the connection point, just pliable rubber, so I can barely feel it. They definitely muffle noise when you have them solidly in place. I also really like the longer than average cord. Definitely recommend!”

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