There aren’t many things I appreciate more in this life than a good night’s sleep. If you’ve been following my articles for a while, I’m sure I’ve managed to convey that well enough. After all, I’ve written about everything from noise regulations to stopping your bed frame from squeaking, all with the goal of helping you have a deeper and more restful sleep. Hopefully, this list of the best earplugs for sleeping with a snorer is a continuation of that series!
Since I’ve already written an article about sleeping next to snorers, I’ll try not to repeat myself. If you’re interested in how and why snoring happens, and why it’s more prevalent in some people than others, check out that article.
But today, I’m going to focus on creating a buyer’s guide you’ll be able to use if you decide to buy a product that didn’t make it onto my list of favorites. As always, I’ll present the top 10 best earplugs after that guide. But first, let’s talk about whether earplugs are the best method of drowning out snoring sounds anyway.
Even though earplugs are a standard piece of equipment in many different industries, I was never completely sold on their effectiveness. I could admit that some of them plug the ears well enough to reduce the level of noise. Still, I believed that the costs outweighed the benefits. In my article on sleeping without earplugs, I listed some of the reasons why many people would rather avoid having to put something in their ears:
- Fear of missing the morning alarm
- The possibility of ear wax building up within the ears and leading to an infection
- The fact that some earplugs can quickly become breeding grounds for various bacteria
- Experiencing tension headaches as a result of using plugs that are much too large for the user
- Damaging the eardrums as a result of improper insertion or removal
Until recently, I felt all of these concerns too. However, as I’ve explained in the article I’ve linked to: some people don’t experience any of those consequences. There are certain ways to avoid them, in any case.
For a start, you ought to follow the product instructions to the letter in order to avoid improper application. Moreover, you should also keep both your ears and the earplugs clean — or get new ones every other day or so. But the reusability is something that depends on many factors. With that in mind, let’s talk about the different features you should look out for when shopping for your earplugs.
Features to Look out for When Shopping for Earplugs
So now that you know how earplugs can help you on your quest to getting a good night’s sleep, we can finally get down to business. What are some of the most important things you need to pay attention to when shopping for earplugs? As always, you’ll want to start with the most important feature — the noise-canceling properties of the product.
When we’re talking about products that are specifically meant to deal with noise, we can usually refer back to a system of measurement to tell us which ones are better than others. For example, materials such as acoustic foam and soundproof insulation use the noise reduction coefficient — or NRC. Assigning a number between 0 and 1 is a simple way to relay the percentage of noise a particular product is capable of absorbing.
As it turns out, earplugs have their own special unit of measurement — the noise reduction rating — or NRR. Remember, these things are a legally required work accessory in some professions. Therefore, all earplugs go through testing as mandated by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Thankfully, these tests give me an easy way to determine the most effective of the products on my list.
The noise reduction rating is always measured in decibels — the higher the better. On my list, the lowest-rated product has an NRR of 16 decibels, while the highest-rated has a rating of 34 decibels.
As you know, every 10-decibel spike in the noise level actually represents a doubling of the noise. A noise that measures in at 70 decibels is twice as loud as a 60-decibel sound. Therefore, subtracting 16 decibels from the amount of noise you can hear (measured in A-weighted decibels) will cut it by more than 50%.
Quality of Materials
Earplug manufacturers usually use beeswax, foam, silicon, and a few other materials to make their products. However, your main choices will be between foam and silicone products. Most people who use earplugs really like to stick to their camp — but there are pros and cons for both types of products. So let’s list them.
On the one hand, we have foam earplugs, which are porous, and therefore not waterproof. So you can’t take them swimming. However, their porous nature is a benefit if you’re someone who sweats a lot. But that is also why they’re incredibly short-lived. You should ideally throw them out every morning, or every other day.
On the other hand, you’ve got silicone earplugs, which are much more long-lasting. In fact, many people seem to think that they don’t have an expiration date. However, that’s not necessarily the case.
Personally, I wouldn’t want to wear the same silicone earplugs for more than a couple of days without cleaning them. Even then, at some point, they’ll get a bit too nasty for comfort. That’s exactly why some people prefer disposable foam earplugs: after they use them, they can chuck them into the trash without feeling guilty about it. So reusability is another big factor you’ll want to consider when choosing the material of your earplugs.
Additionally, since silicone earplugs aren’t absorbent at all, they may start to slip as the moisture builds up in your ear. Still, some of them are incredibly effective, which is why I’ve decided to have a few of those products on my list.
The next thing you ought to consider are your reasons for getting the earplugs. Even if your roommate’s or partner’s snoring noises prompted you to seek out the best earplugs on the market, you may find other uses for them. So why should this affect your decision?
Well, if you’re only looking for earplugs you can wear while you sleep, work, or study, you’ll want to focus on comfort and style. Most people prefer foam products for comfort, even if they’re not very stylish.
Alternately, if you need them to cover up louder noises, you’ll want to get the highest NRR you can find. For example, if you work in construction, or frequent concerts or shooting ranges — go for efficiency, rather than comfort.
Lastly, if you also intend to use your earplugs for swimming, you should avoid foam altogether. Some people like that foam earplugs absorb ear moisture instead of letting it pile up as silicone ones might. However, that very feature is what makes them bad for swimming. So if that’s an activity you must wear earplugs for, stick to silicon ones.
Of course, no one’s saying that you have to use the same kinds of earplugs for all your activities. It would just be convenient. Still, you can always get foam ones for sleeping and silicone ones for swimming. And, of course, there are other materials you may consider by the end of my recommendations.
Quantity and Portability
Finally, depending on the kind of product you choose, you’ll get a different number of earplugs. The disposable ones typically come in packs of 10, 50, even 100 or 200 pairs. Conversely, the reusable kind usually comes with one or two different sizes of earplugs. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
Now, if you have to travel, you’ll be happy to hear that both of these options are pretty portable. The reusable kind generally comes in smaller cases, so you’ll be able to fit them into pretty much any size bag, or even a pocket. However, while the 100-pair jars would probably fit into a travel case, you’d be hard-pressed to fit it into your pocket. Still, some of them do come with a smaller case as well — and you can always get a separate case like this keychain one from Eargasm.
Best Earplugs for Sleeping with a Snorer (Reviews)
Now that we’ve discussed the many features that make for great earplugs, we can finally get into my list of favorites. As always, there’s a method to the madness. I’ll start with the disposable, foam products, then move on to the reusable ones. Additionally, I’ll go from the lowest to the highest NRR, so the products will be more effective toward the end of each category.
1. Mack's Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs
It only makes sense to start this list off with Mack’s earplugs, since the company makes so many different kinds. I have two other products from their lineup coming up, but for now, let’s start with their Slim Fit Soft Foam earplugs.
These plugs were specifically designed for people who have small or sensitive ear canals. They’re about 20% smaller than Mack’s standard size earplugs, so if you’ve tried those and they didn’t fit quite right, maybe these ones are worth a shot. Their pastel purple color sets them apart from the rest of the company’s earplugs, which all have their own signature colors. The 50 pairs of earplugs come in a square, plastic jar with a white safety cap on top, which can flip open for easy access.
Like most foam earplugs, these ones are shaped like a smooth, tapered thimble with a rounded tip. In fact, they’re about 0.4 inches wide at the wide end, and 0.27 inches wide at the narrow end. Also like other foam products, these plugs are decidedly not waterproof — and they won’t help you deal with airplane ear pressure, either. However, with an NRR of 29 decibels, they’re sure to reduce the amount of snoring you hear as you fall asleep.
2. Flents Quiet Please Earplugs
The Flents Quiet Please earplugs are one of the most popular ones on the market. The white cork-shaped plugs come in packs of 10, 25, 50, or 100 pairs, so you can get whichever ones you prefer. While the first two quantities come in boxes, the latter two come in reusable plastic jars or jugs. Additionally, the 10-pair option even comes with a carrying case for a single pair of plugs.
Like the previous foam plugs I’ve reviewed, these ones have an NRR of 29 decibels. Additionally, as you might have suspected, they’re not waterproof. As with all other foam plugs, you ought to toss them after one or two nights.
The manufacturer was kind enough to include insertion instructions on the packaging. Namely, you’ll want to roll the plug between your fingers or hands — making sure they’re clean, of course. Once the foam elongates, hold your outer ear up and out, and slide the plug in. Then, hold your finger against it for about half a minute until the foam inflates back to fill your ear.
These instructions should work for most foam plugs. However, squishing them may not be all it takes to get them into your ear. Some foam plugs are so absorbent that they end up drying your ears out, which can cause irritations and itchiness. If that’s something you struggle with, you may want to stick to silicone ones.
3. Mpow Foam Earplugs
Depending on the kind of noise you’re looking to stifle, the Mpow foam earplugs can either make your environment completely silent or at least ensure that you don’t have hearing loss. With an NRR of 32 decibels, they’re capable of reducing sounds of over 100 decibels to more manageable levels. So they’re pretty much a sure thing if you only need them to cover the sound of your roommate’s or partner’s snoring.
The manufacturer describes the foam material as “super soft” so it should perfectly conform to the inside of your ear. The clear plastic jug packs 60 pairs of plugs, which you should ideally replace every 5 days at most. They even come in four different colors: green, purple, pink, and magenta (or “rose red”).
In addition to getting the earplugs themselves, this particular product also comes with a 2-inch long aluminum container you can twist open to store a single pair of plugs. The container even has a key ring, so you can keep it close by. That makes them especially convenient for travel, work, study, or everyday use. I like to keep a pair of earplugs on hand at all times in case I run into construction, or simply want to detach myself from loud noises.
4. Honeywell Howard Leight Earplugs
These Honeywell earplugs were specifically designed for industrial safety, and you can tell as much by simply looking at the packaging. The 200 pairs of earplugs come in individual clear plastic packs. They arrive in a box, which has a pop out door to make it easier for workers to come and take their own plugs at the beginning of a shift.
Another feature that makes this especially suited for professional environments is the very color of the plugs. The T-shaped bits of foam are yellow and magenta — two colors that are highly visible even from a distance. This feature is mostly meant to help employers and inspection workers make sure that employees are protecting their hearing. However, they’re also helpful if your headphones get lost in your bed, or fall off of it.
As always, you probably don’t want to go swimming with foam plugs. However, the manufacturer specified that they use closed-cell foam, which is smooth and soil-resistant in order to prevent build-up. So these plugs are perhaps the most moisture-resistant of all the foam products. Maybe that’s what gives them the NRR of 32 decibels, as well!
In addition to the simple 200-pair pack, you can also choose the 100-pair pack or even the 25-pair one, if you just want to give them a shot. However, you should keep in mind that the 100-pair version of the product has a yellow cord connecting the plugs. The cord is basically supposed to make it easy to carry the plugs around your neck, so you don’t lose them.
5. Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs
Mack’s Ultra Soft foam earplugs are probably some of the most popular ones on the market. Though the manufacturer did change the original formula in 2017 which, by all accounts, made the plugs less soft, they’re still excellent quality.
As I said, all Mack’s foam plugs have their own signature color. These ones are a muted pink color, which is a nice change of pace amidst the sea of neon plugs. The clear plastic jar packs 50 pairs of soft foam earplugs which ought to compress fairly easily — as per the instructions I shared.
However, you should note that these plugs are quite a bit larger than the first Mack’s earplugs I reviewed here. So if you have small or sensitive ear canals, be careful! They will fit people with average ear canal sizes, though.
Still, these do seem to be more effective than the other ones I’ve mentioned, since they have an NRR of 32 decibels. They can also last for a few days before you have to switch them out for a new pair. In fact, the only thing they won’t be able to help with is high altitude pressure or water sports.
6. Flents Quiet Contour Earplugs
The Flents Quiet Contour earplugs are very different than the first Flents product I reviewed for this list. For one, they are more effective, with an NRR of 33 decibels. However, there are also some aesthetic differences. Instead of having a cork-like appearance, these ones are more T-shaped, and neon green instead of tan.
The same insertion instructions apply, so you’ll definitely have to roll them before they are able to get in your ears. However, once you get them in, you’ll get to enjoy absolute silence. Still, as with all the other foam plugs we’ve seen, these ones aren’t waterproof. But don’t worry; they’re the last product I’ll say that about!
The Quiet Contour earplugs come in 3 different packs. The 10-pack one is a cardboard box, but it includes a clear plastic carrying case that can fit a single pair of plugs. Then, there are also the 50 and 55-pair versions. The difference is in the fact that the first comes in a reusable plastic jar, while the second is a resealable pouch.
7. Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs
Finally, the Eargasm plugs take us out of the category of foam products and toward the silicone and other waterproof options. Now, even though these earplugs have the lowest NRR — which is only 16 decibels — that still means that they can cut the noise levels by more than half. That should be enough to reduce the sound of someone snoring, but why stop there? The fact that these plugs are waterproof opens up the range of activities you can use them for.
Like many other silicone plugs on the market, Eargasm plugs are shaped a bit like a child’s version of a Christmas tree. Aside from the three cones of different sizes stacked on top of each other, there’s also an elongated tab you can use to pull the plugs out. You’ll get two sizes of plugs, so this product should be suitable for most normal to large size ear canals. They’re also incredibly soft and pliable — and they shouldn’t cause tension pain or allergic reactions.
When you figure out which size shells suits you best, you’ll want to stick the two attenuation filters onto the wider end of the plugs. The filters, which have a metallic core instead of a fiber one, come in three colors: transparent, blue, and rainbow. It also comes with a 1.6-inch long black aluminum canister you can keep on your key ring.
8. Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs
Mack’s Pillow Soft silicone earplugs are possibly the only option on the market if you want to be able to have silicone plugs — and be able to mold them into shape. Unlike some other options on the market, moldable earplugs create an airtight, waterproof seal over your ear canals. So if you have trouble with the roll-and-stuff method you need to use for foam plugs, they might be the perfect solution for you.
The earplugs come in 6-pair packs. When you take them out, they look like white, opaque ellipsoids. According to the company, the moldable silicone they use today is the same formula they invented in 1962. So you know it’s tried and true.
- NRR 22 decibels
- Moldable silicone
- Waterproof and reusable (up to 5 days)
- 6 pairs
When you apply the silicone properly, any noise should be reduced by 22 decibels. Moreover, you can wear the same plugs for about 5 days before you have to take new ones out of the pack. But then, I’d do that anyway, even with other kinds of reusable silicone plugs.
9. Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs
While we’re on the subject of plugs you can shape to the contours of your ear — we should also mention the Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs. This product does seem to be more effective than the previous one I’ve reviewed, with an NRR of 31 decibels. And when you see them, you’ve got to admit that makes sense — there are several extra parts in play.
The moldable part of the plugs is made of thermoplastic, instead of silicone, so you activate it by heating it up in boiling water. After they cool a bit, you can shape them on your ears. The thermoplastic even comes in 5 different colors: black, blue, orange, pink, and red.
Once they dry, they’re going to stay in your ear while you sleep, work, swim, or go shooting. And, when you’re not using them, you can store them away in their carrying pouch. But that’s not all.
These plugs actually use a patented triple seal. In addition to the thermoplastic that closes your ear canal opening, they have a canal tip that goes into your ear. Those flange tips come in 3 sizes, so they should suit pretty much everyone. There’s also a sound plug that twists into the thermoplastic to further reduce the amount of noise that reaches your ear.
10. World’s Finest Mighty Plugs
Lastly, we have the World’s Finest Mighty Plugs. If you’ve already tried out foam and silicone earplugs, and neither of them is sitting just right with you, these ones are the natural next step to take. Some people just have naturally sensitive ears: foam plugs dry out the natural moisture of their ear canal, and silicone ones slip out.
Well, maybe natural beeswax would help your ear canals recover. After all, beeswax is a substance that is highly compatible with the natural moisture we have in our ears. In addition to that magic ingredient, the manufacturer also has sterile cotton, purified (wool-derived) lanolin, and vegetable-based blue food coloring. Every single item on that list is completely natural and hypoallergenic.
On top of all that, this product is also one of the most effective ones on the market, with an NRR of 34 decibels. You’re supposed to put them in by molding them to the external part of the ear. If you keep your ears clean, you’ll be able to use a single pair for up to a month. The more dirt they pick up, the less pliable they’ll be.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Earplugs for Sleeping
Despite my own misgivings, I can only conclude that earplugs are some of the most effective tools for getting rid of excess noise — even if it’s coming from the same bed you’re sleeping in. However, if we’ve somehow underestimated the loudness of the snoring, there are ways to build upon the effectiveness of the earplugs you get. Namely, you can always double up with plugs and earmuffs if you want to make sure you get the sleep you deserve.