The How-to Guide for Earplugs

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation


These noise blockers can help mute the sounds of a bustling hotel or a snoring spouse. Here’s how to get the most out of them.

Whether you’re trying to score a little extra sleep at an airport lounge or hoping to catch a little shut-eye with a house full of youngsters, earplugs can be your best friends. These small buds can improve sleep quality even in the toughest places, like the intensive care unit of a hospital. But with multiple types available, which one is right for you? Follow this guide for what to buy, and when to use them.

If You’re Flying…

Those who fly frequently know that the benefits of a pair of earplugs go far beyond drowning out noise. Earplugs help to equalize changes in cabin pressure, thereby preventing painful ear popping during takeoff and landing. You may wish to remove them once you’re in the air, but if you want to nap during your flight, airplane-friendly earplugs also do a good job blocking the sounds of crying babies and chatty seatmates.

During Vacation…

Do you have a tough time sleeping on the road? It may be worth making room for a couple of sets of disposable foam earplugs in your travel kit. These inexpensive plugs are only recommended for a single use, making them easy options if you’re worried about losing them in the hotel. And don’t worry if you forget to pack them: Many varieties that block out up to 33 dB of sound can be found at local pharmacies.

When You’re Sleeping at Home…

For many people, getting a good night’s sleep right in their own bed is a challenge. If you’re among those who suffer from living in a noisy neighborhood or bedding down next to a snoring partner, a pair of reusable earplugs might be the way to go.

Some options include cords and storage cases that can help prevent you from losing these small accessories. Many are also washable if you’re leery about putting the same piece of silicon in your ear every night. You can even get custom-molded plugs that not only cancel noise but fit your ears like a dream.

Whatever variety of earplug you’re using, keep in mind that properly inserting these sleep aids into your ears is paramount for successful noise-blocking—so pay attention to the directions on the packaging. Poorly placed earbuds block about a third less noise than those that were accurately placed in the ear canal.