The 7 Best Earplugs for Sleeping of 2021

Block out all disruptions and sleep soundly

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First Look

Best Overall: Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs at Amazon

"Whether you have a snoring spouse or noisy neighbors, these make dozing off easy, just put them in your ear and feel them expand."

Best for Small Ears: Ohropax Reusable Wax/Cotton Earplugs at Amazon

"Instead of sliding into your ear canal, these earplugs slide over it, making them a comfy and less intrusive choice."

Best Budget: Flents Quiet Please Earplugs at Amazon

"Ideal if you don't have small or sensitive ear canals, Flents' ear plugs come with 10 pairs and a case so you can stay organized."

Best Non-Intrusive: Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs at Amazon

"These putty earplugs can keep up with your busy lifestyle, whether you're on an early flight, swimming, or just need some quiet."

Best Custom: Radians Custom Molded Earplugs at Amazon

"These look a bit unconventional and for good reason - you can customize a pair that's perfect for your shape for enhanced comfort."

Best Maximum Noise Reduction: Howard Leight MAX-1 Foam Earplugs at Amazon

"These will be hard to lose due to their bright orange shade while its foam structure allows for safe and cozy long-term wear."

Best for Side Sleepers: Kuyax Premium Silicone Ear Plugs at Amazon

"Side sleepers can rejoice in finding earplugs without long ends, so they can be worn no matter your sleeping position."

Whether you live next to a train track, sleep next to someone who snores like a chainsaw, or are a shift worker where the rest of the world is awake when you’re trying to catch some shut eye, ear plugs can help you get a sounder night of sleep. 

According to research in Critical Care, when people wore earplugs while trying to snooze in a noisy place, they produced more nocturnal melatonin—a natural hormone that helps you sleep—and less cortisol, the stress hormone. They also spent more time in the deep sleep state of REM and weren't woken up as easily throughout the night.

But if you’ve ever tried the disposable earplugs pulled off a gas station shelf, you know not all earplugs are created equally. They come in different sizes, shapes, materials, and noise-blocking abilities. Here are the seven best earplugs for every type of person to get a better night’s sleep.

Best Overall: Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs

Mack's Foam Earplugs

 Courtesy of Amazon

Mack's Ultra Soft earplugs are everything you want in a sleep aid. The cone-shaped plug is made with low-pressure, slow-release cushy foam that is ergonomically shaped to fit most ears, so they're super comfortable for a full eight-hours of use. Just pinch and place in your ear and feel them slowly expand to fill up your canal, blocking all nighttime noise disturbances. In fact, the company says they're the #1 doctor recommended a brand of foam earplugs to get a good night's sleep next to a snoring spouse.

They have a Noise Reduction Rating of 33 decibels—reassuringly high, even against noises loud enough to cause hearing damage. And while they're not reusable, one mega-pack of 50 pairs is super affordable, making them a reliable choice for wear every night.

Best for Small Ears: Ohropax Reusable Wax/Cotton Earplugs

One hugely important aspect of comfort is finding the right sized foam for your ears. If you roll and roll but still can't get regular earplugs to sit in your ear canal comfortably, you might need a smaller fit. (Smaller is also ideal for sensitive ear canals and children.)

Made from wax, they mold perfectly to your ear canal (especially great for small or sensitive ear canals). These are often touted as the most comfortable ear plugs you can purchase. 

The plugs come wrapped in cotton, which confuses some people, but it’s to keep the earplugs from sticking to one another in transit. After the cotton is peeled away, you're left with small balls that block the edge of your ear canal — just enough to keep noise out without any of the pain of cones pressing down your canal. We love that the pack comes with a small carrying case so your earplugs are easy to take traveling with you.

This unique design does come with a few downsides: the wax is hard to clean so once they're dirty, the earplugs will need to be replaced. But one order lands you 12 pairs, so they'll keep you sleeping in comfort for a while. Also, some users report the wax to be a bit on the oily side, and if you have a lot of ear hair, it can get stuck in the wax, which isn't the most fun to pull out in the morning. 

But if you don’t want earplugs that stuff your ear canal, Ohropax’s extreme comfort makes them worth the purchase.

Best Budget: Flents Quiet Please Earplugs

If you're looking for the perfect balance of price for quality, Flents' ear plugs are top choice. 

Made out of a soft foam pre-molded into a cylinder shape, these plugs will fit any standard ear shape. They boast a noise reduction rating of 29 decibels, so they'll block most all noises at night. 

One box offers 10 pairs of plugs, along with a carrying case—which may seem like no big deal, but this helps keep the pair clean and hygienic both on your nightstand and during travel. It prevents you from simply losing one in a set, so the case lowers your cost for replacements over time.

The shape and design won't be ideal for small ears or sensitive ear canals, but if you’re looking for the best value from a reliable brand, these can’t be beat.

Best Non-Intrusive: Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs

Mack's Pillow Soft

 Courtesy of Amazon

You don’t need your entire ear canal plugged to keep noise out. If you feel pressure or suction after hours of having a cone-shaped plug down your canal, switch over to Mack's silicone putty. 

From the company that brought us the first moldable silicone earplug back in 1962, the updated formula delivers little balls that can be pinched and squished to fit the unique contours of any ear. Most importantly, they don’t actually go into your ear canal, but instead create a seal along the outside, making them a lot more comfortable for a full night's sleep without having to give up any noise blockage. And because the fit is customizable, you can simply remove and expand or tighten them if they do feel uncomfortable.

They're doctor recommended to block out a snoring partner, with a Noise Reduction Rating of 22 decibels. They aren’t cleanable, and one pair will last you only about five uses—until they are "soiled or no longer sticky." But the comfort can’t be beat.

Best Custom: Radians Custom Molded Earplugs

If you’ve tried countless earplugs and can’t seem to find a fit that doesn’t hurt halfway through the night, try molding your own shape.

This do-it-yourself kit comes with safe, non-toxic, hypo-allergenic silicone material that you mix together, then mold to perfectly fit your unique ear and ear canal shape. The material takes 30 seconds to cure into a shape perfectly fitted to your individual contours. 

This design might feel like you're back in pre-K playing with silly putty, but it’ll prove its worth come snooze-time. Because they’re custom fit, Radians are great at blocking out nighttime sounds. And a huge perk of this option is the custom-molded earplugs can be washed with mild soap, making them much more cost-effective—and hygienic—than other moldable options.

Best Maximum Noise Reduction: Howard Leight MAX-1 Foam Earplugs

If your partner's grizzly bear snores are so loud they're making their way into your dreams, you need next-level noise blocking. Howard Leight earplugs are actually made to protect the hearing of people who work around loud noises and industrial environments. They have one of the highest Noise Reduction Ratings at 33 decibels.

And, of course, they’re actually comfortable to keep in your ears all night (barring those with small or sensitive ear canals). The MAX-1 design is made of bell-shaped foam and the wide design is extra nice for people with wider ear canals who have trouble getting a full block with smaller designs. (If you have the opposite problem, Howard Leight makes the same MAX-1 noise blocker in a smaller version for ladies or kids.)

They come in a pack of 200 pairs, so you’ll basically never run out. And each pair is individually packaged making it easy to stash a pack everywhere from the bedside table to your go-to carry-on.

Best for Side Sleepers: Kuyax Premium Silicone Ear Plugs

For too long, side-sleepers have been forced to choose between waking up with aching ears thanks to the ear-to-pillow pressure, or forgoing their earplugs and trying to sleep through disturbing noises all night.

These moldable ear plugs from Kuyax are here to help. Made from medical-grade soft silicone, you simply roll them into a tight cylinder and press the earplugs over your ear canal's opening until it seals it completely. 

Because they don't go into your ear canal or stick out of your ear, they're super comfortable for side sleepers. And because they mold into your ear shape, they won’t fall out while you sleep. 

The silicone is BPA-free and hypoallergenic, so the material won't irritate sensitive skin. And you can wash them in warm, soapy water to reuse the plugs (just let them dry completely before putting them in again).

Best yet, the pleasant design actually blocks out noise remarkably well — these have a Noise Reduction Rating of 32, one of the highest on the list.

Final Verdict

If you usually have no trouble with fit but you need an earplug that’ll block noise better than what you’re currently using, Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs are the best value for quality and will be comfortable in most ears. If most brands leave you with a sore ear canal after just a few hours, Radians Custom Molded Earplugs will mold to fit any unique ear shape and they're washable, so they'll last you a long time.

What to Look for in Earplugs for Sleeping

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all for which earplugs people like most. There are a lot of variables that influence how comfortable people find earplugs, including size, placement, ability to block sound, hygiene, and storage, reports a 2018 study in Noise Health. 

Fit: Most important is comfort—if they hurt after three hours in, it doesn’t much matter how well they block noise because you won’t want to wear them. A good judge of the size of your ear canal is how generic music earbuds feel: If those hurt after multi-hour use, opt for earplugs fit for smaller ears. 

Noise Reduction Rating: Look for earplugs with a high Noise Reduction Rating, a measurement of how well the product keeps noise out. If you are regularly woken up by loud noises, find a product with a slightly higher rating to keep your ears protected.

Sleep position: Many of us don't sleep soundly in one position all night. For side sleepers and restless sleepers, look for ear plugs specifically designed to stay in all night long. Traditional earplugs may be more likely to fall out, so investing in ones that stay in place will help you sleep more soundly.

Why Trust Verywell

Rachael Schultz is a freelance writer with a focus in health and nutrition. Her articles have appeared on a handful of other Health sites, and she has a degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She specializes in breaking down science and medical jargon into digestible information.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hu RF, Jiang XY, Hegadoren KM, Zhang YH. Effects of earplugs and eye masks combined with relaxing music on sleep, melatonin and cortisol levels in ICU patients: a randomized controlled trial. Crit Care. 2015;19:115. doi:10.1186/s13054-015-0855-3

  2. Samelli AG, Gomes RF, Chammas TV, Silva BG, Moreira RR, Fiorini AC. The study of attenuation levels and the comfort of earplugs. Noise Health. 2018;20(94):112-119.