“Silence is Golden” as the Tremeloes proclaimed in their 1960s hit song. And when the day draws to a close and it’s time for bed, I couldn’t agree more.
As someone who needs total silence to sleep well, I’ve tried countless different earplugs over the years, discarding many and treasuring a precious few.
If you also struggle to sleep because of noise, a decent pair of earplugs could help you sleep peacefully instead of lying awake wishing your neighbors or relentlessly snoring partner had an “off” switch.
In this review I’ll be discussing the best foam, wax, silicon and custom molded earplugs that I’ve found. I’ll be recommending earplugs for blocking loud noise such as snoring or traffic, as well as the most comfortable to use if you sleep on your side.
What are Noise Reduction Ratings?
I’ve included a noise reduction rating in decibels (dB) for each of the earplugs – something all earplugs in the United States are required to have. The scores are determined by independent lab tests and approved by the American National Standards Institute.
Although it’s tempting to think those with the highest score are the best, other factors such as the fit in your ear canal and type of noise can also influence how effective they are.
Having said that, if you have very loud noise such as snoring to deal with, it might be a good idea to try earplugs with a higher noise reduction rating first.
Can earplugs completely block snoring?
I wish I could tell you that earplugs can completely block out any snoring, but it’s just not the case. If the top noise reduction rating for earplugs is 33dB, and extreme snoring can be up to 80dB, some noise is still going to get through.
Add to that the fact that some sound travels through the bone and not the ear canal, and we have a situation in which snoring can be dampened, but not shut out altogether.
Fortunately, not everyone snores like a lion, so you might find that the best earplugs can in fact block out your partner’s snoring. And if you do have snoring of epic proportions to cope with, hopefully you can reduce the noise level to a tolerable level and sleep through it.
The table below shows the earplugs I’ll be looking at in this review. You can see their noise reduction ratings, along with the key points for each that I’ll explain in more detail below.
|Key points||Buy from|
|33||-Best for snoring|
|32||-Good for loud|
-Easy to remove
|Mack's ultrasoft||32||-Most comfortable|
-Good for side
|Hearos Xtreme||33||-Good for Loud |
|3M 1100||29||-Good sound |
|Pro Vibes||20/28||-2 sound blocking|
-Can be used at
1) Moldex Pura-Fit
Most effective sound blocking
Noise Reduction Rating: 33 dB
I first tried the Moldex Pura-Fit when an electrician friend of mine threw me a pack, saying ‘here, give these bad boys a go!’
They’re industry standard and used on building sites because they were designed to combat extreme noise levels. And I’ve now used them ever since as they’re quite simply the best earplugs I’ve found for blocking out loud noise.
They have an excellent sound-blocking capability, with a noise reduction rating of 33 decibels – the highest rating earplugs can receive.
Even though there are others which technically have the same rating, I find that these somehow have an edge when it comes to dealing with the loudest of sounds. They successfully block out every sound I might otherwise hear, such as music, television, rain, distant traffic and mid-volume snoring.
I find them comfortable to sleep in all night long, even on my side. And they’re easy to put in and take out due to the tapered cone shape.
They come in a box of 200, which might seem a lot, but hygienically you should change them every few days so you’ll have enough to last you a very long time.
2) Howard Leight Earplugs
Good sound blocking
Noise Reduction Rating: 32 dB
The Howard Leight foam earplugs would win a colorfulness competition and you’ll never lose them. But more importantly they’re also effective and comfortable earplugs for sleeping.
The noise reduction rating of 32 decibels is just slightly less than the Moldex. I find that they do block out most sound, including most snoring and traffic. And I could still hear my alarm clock if I set it with a loud enough tone.
The contoured and bell-shaped design means they expand comfortably in your ear canal. I find I can sleep on my side whilst wearing them and they’re easy to remove in the morning due to the t-shaped tapered tip.
On balance, I think these earplugs and the Moldex are equally good options. It’s a bit subjective, but I found that the Moldex were slightly better at excluding loud noise.
Equally, the Howard Leight are perhaps a little easier to insert and remove. So they’re both good options and maybe it’ll come down to personal choice.
3) Mack’s Ultrasoft Earplugs
Softest earplugs for sleeping
Noise Reduction Rating: 32 dB
Mack’s Ultrasoft are probably the best earplugs if comfort is your number one criteria. Whether you sleep on your front, back or side, they’re great for using all night without feeling any discomfort.
They’re made from a low-pressure foam, so they expand to block out sound but without putting too much pressure on your ears.
I could tell the difference in pressure between these and most normal foam earplugs – they expand to fit, but don’t push too much against the inside of your ears. And they have a tapered design, so are easy to insert and remove again in the morning.
The noise reduction rating of 32 decibels is a respectably high score. I found that they block out most sound well, but do struggle a little with louder noise.
Overall, I think if your main priority is comfort and you’ve found other foam earplugs put too much pressure on your ears, Mack’s Ultrasoft could be a good choice.
4) Quies Wax Earplugs
Best wax earplugs
Noise Reduction Rating: 27 dB
At first, it may seem a bit fiddly to remove the cotton, warm them up in your hand and then mold them to get a comfortable fit. Once you’ve molded them correctly though, the natural wax will sit comfortably in your ear.
And if you do need to make some adjustments once they’re in, you can easily squeeze the wax without taking them out again.
With a noise reduction rating of 27 decibels, I found they do block sound quite well and when I managed to get the fit just right, they were very effective. Having said that, I don’t think they provide the same level of silence as the best foam earplugs.
Overall, if you’re not a fan of foam earplugs though, and don’t have extreme sounds to deal with, these might be worth trying.
5) Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs
Custom molded and good sound blocking
Noise Reduction Rating: 31 dB
The Decibullz custom molded earplugs take a little more work to get started, but once you get the fit right, they do a good job of blocking a wide range of sounds.
They essentially consist of 3 parts. You dip the main part in boiling water for a few minutes, allow it to cool for 30 seconds and then mold it to the shape of your ear.
Then you have silicon tips to attach, which sit deeper inside your ear canal. And finally, you have the option of adding a sound plug or leaving it open if you need to listen out for children or an alarm during the night.
They have a rating of 31 decibels, and I found they reliably block out all loud noise I would otherwise hear. They’re comfortable to have in your ear, though if you’re a side sleeper you might find foam earplugs more comfortable.
Decibullz are also designed to be used for other activities like concerts, shooting and swimming. And if you’re going to use earplugs in public, they look pretty cool compared to foam.
6) Hearos Xtreme Protection
Good mid range noise reduction
Noise Reduction Rating: 33 dB
The Hearos Xtreme protection earplugs also have a noise reduction rating of 33 decibels. I find they block out all low to mid level sounds well, such as light snoring, rain or music next door.
However, I found they struggled to reduce the sound of louder snoring or traffic as much as some of the other earplugs I’ve tried.
Considering they have the same noise reduction rating as the Moldex and Howard Leight, it could just be the fit in my ear canal that explains the difference though.
Made from foam, they have a tapered design so are easy to insert and remove. They’re comfortable to wear, and you can sleep on your side with no problems.
They come in a smaller packet, which isn’t so cost effective in the long run, but might be useful if you just want to trial a set of foam earplugs.
7) 3M 1100 Earplugs
Solid noise blocking
Noise Reduction Rating: 29dB
The 3M 1100 earplugs, as the rather technical name might suggest, are designed for industrial use and not originally intended to use when sleeping. Much like the Moldex, they were meant to protect workers’ ears in noisy environments.
However, I’d seen reports that they do a very good job of blocking sound, even though they have a lower noise reduction rating than some others, and decided to give them a try.
I did find that they are excellent at blocking sound. I’m surprise they have a lower rating than Moldex and Howard Leight, as they do just a good job in my opinion.
Where they don’t quite do so well though is in terms of comfort. The foam feels harder than the others in this review, and needs a bit of effort to warm in the fingers before inserting.
And then when expanded, they can put a bit too much pressure on your ears if you insert them too far – or have smaller ear canals I imagine.
I like the cone shape, which works well for me, but I’m not sure I’d want to use them on a regular basis. If I can find softer foam earplugs that do the same job, it makes more sense to me to go with them.
However, if you’ve found that other foam earplugs are a bit too soft or flimsy, and want to try something more robust, these might be worth trying, especially if your bedroom is noisy at night.
8) Reverbs High Fidelity Earplugs
Noise cancelling, good multi-use for noisy activities
Noise Reduction Rating: 1 pair with 20 dB, and 1 with 28 dB
The Reverbs High Fidelity earplugs were specifically designed to be used in noisy environments, such as music or sports events. However, they’re also advertised as helping block sound when sleeping, so I thought I’d give them a go.
Interestingly, they have a solid metal tip which blocks out a lot of background noise, but still allows you to hear the person speaking to you.
This is great if you’re at a noisy event, and I found they do exactly that – it’s quite a strange experience when you know it’s noisy, but you can somehow still hear your friend clearly. As I expected though, they also don’t really block out the sound of someone snoring loudly next to you.
You get two pairs – one with a noise reduction rating of 20, and the other 28. I tried both when sleeping, but they just didn’t block snoring as well as foam earplugs. Furthermore, I found them quite uncomfortable when lying on my side.
I think if you only have background noise when sleeping, like traffic in the distance or a television in the next room, they’re quite good. Especially if you plan to use them during the day as well.
But if you have very loud noise to block when sleeping, foam earplugs might be a more effective and comfortable option.