The 10 Best Earplugs For Sleeping In Silence

photo of 5 different pairs of foam earplugsIf you’re anything like me, the sound of a dripping tap at the other end of the house could keep you awake.

So if your partner’s relentless snoring or your neighbor’s late night music is driving you crazy, a good set of earplugs can come to the rescue.

I regularly try new earplugs as I’m always on the lookout for the perfect match for my ears. And in this review, I’ll be discussing the ones I’ve found to be the most comfortable and effective at blocking sound at night.

A note about the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

The noise reduction rating is an official score based on lab tests and suggests how much noise earplugs might reduce. The maximum possible is currently 33 dB, but the fit in your ear also plays a role.

The reality is that there’s an element of luck involved until you find the size and type that suits you personally, which might need some trial and error.

Which type of earplug to choose

The main types are foam, silicone, wax, soft plastic, custom moldable. Despite being the least expensive, foam earplugs usually provide the best noise reduction.

The main reasons to choose other types are comfort and hygiene. Since they form a seal over the ear rather than sit deeper inside, some people prefer them. But if you want to cut out the most noise possible, simple foam earplugs are hard to beat.

If you’d like to know more about the material types and how noise reduction ratings are calculated, have a read of my article about using earplugs in bed.

Comparison table

Here’s an overview of some key points about the earplugs I’ll be discussing. If you’re not sure what size you need, I’d base it on your overall ear size or start with a smaller size.

IMAGEPRODUCTBUY FROM
nsn-table__imageBest small sizeBest small sizeMack's Original
  • NRR 32 dB
  • Small soft foam
  • Excellent noise blocking
  • NRR 32 dB
  • Small soft foam
  • Excellent noise blocking
Amazon
nsn-table__imageBest medium sizeBest medium size3M
  • NRR 29 dB
  • Medium foam
  • Industrial standard hearing protection
  • NRR 29 dB
  • Medium foam
  • Industrial standard hearing protection
Amazon
nsn-table__imageBest large sizeBest large sizeHoward Leight Max-1
  • NRR 33 dB
  • Large foam
  • Great noise blocking
  • NRR 33 dB
  • Large foam
  • Great noise blocking
Amazon
nsn-table__imageMoldex Pura-Fit
  • NRR 33 dB
  • Medium, comfortable foam
  • Good sound blocking
  • NRR 33 dB
  • Medium, comfortable foam
  • Good sound blocking
Amazon
nsn-table__imageHoward Laser Leight
  • NRR 32 dB
  • Large foam
  • Easy removal
  • NRR 32 dB
  • Large foam
  • Easy removal
Amazon
nsn-table__imageSoftest large sizeSoftest large sizeHearos Xtreme Protection
  • NRR 33 dB
  • Large foam
  • Very soft for sleep
  • NRR 33 dB
  • Large foam
  • Very soft for sleep
Amazon
nsn-table__imageMoldex Sparkplugs
  • NRR 33 dB
  • Small, short foam
  • Comfortable
  • NRR 33 dB
  • Small, short foam
  • Comfortable
Amazon
nsn-table__imageMost comfortable overallMost comfortable overallMack's Ultra Soft
  • NRR 32 dB
  • Thin, low-pressure foam
  • Medium sound blocking
  • NRR 32 dB
  • Thin, low-pressure foam
  • Medium sound blocking
Amazon
nsn-table__imageBest waxBest waxQuies
  • NRR 27 dB
  • Moldable natural wax
  • Low noise reduction
  • NRR 27 dB
  • Moldable natural wax
  • Low noise reduction
Amazon
nsn-table__imageBest siliconeBest siliconeMack's Pillow Soft
  • NRR 22 dB
  • Moldable, comfortable silicone
  • Low noise reduction
  • NRR 22 dB
  • Moldable, comfortable silicone
  • Low noise reduction
Amazon

1. Mack’s Original

Small size, with soft foam

Noise reduction rating: 32 dB

macks original soft foam earplugs

With a noise reduction rating of 32 dB, Mack’s original soft foam earplugs effectively reduced all the sounds in my tests, especially snoring and talking. They also did a very good job of blocking the sound of traffic, music, and television.

They are noticeably the smallest foam earplugs I tried, both in length and width. They roll down into quite a tight cylinder, which is great for insertion.

But the small size might mean they aren’t so quick to remove in the morning if you have larger ear canals and decide to use these.

They are made specifically for sleep, so the foam used is particularly soft so as to avoid any discomfort. The soft foam means they don’t put much pressure on your ears, and I found them very comfortable to sleep with all night.

Note that they come in much smaller boxes than the industrial earplugs, but won’t be individually wrapped. The cost per pair also goes up compared to the bigger boxes because of the smaller quantity.

Overall, they were the most effective of the small-sized earplugs I tried. And when I asked for some second opinions, they were also the earplugs those with smaller and medium-sized ear canals preferred.

So if you have smaller and/or sensitive ears, and comfort is as much of a priority for you as effective noise reduction, these are good ones to try.

And if you’re really not sure what size your ear canals are, it might be a good idea to start with this small size. You can always work up from there if you find them too small.

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2. 3M 1100

Medium size, with excellent noise reduction

Noise reduction rating: 29 dB

3m 1100 foam earplugs

The 3m 1100 earplugs were probably the ones that most surprised me. To start with, the lower noise reduction rating of 29 dB just wasn’t reflected in my tests; they actually did a remarkably impressive job of reducing all noise.

Initially, I thought it was just that they fit me well, but the people I asked to test them also reported back that they were excellent.

Perhaps it illustrates how the independent lab tests aren’t always so reliable, or maybe they’ve made some changes to the foam since that test. But what was clear for me is that they were easily as good as, if not better than any with a rating of 33 dB.

As great as that sounds, there’s a problem though: they might feel a bit too uncomfortable in the ear to repeatedly wear, perhaps due to the much denser foam they seem to be made from.

Personally, I can wear them for several nights in a row without a problem – the medium size seems to fit me well.

But a couple of my testers have since told me they can only use them for 2 or 3 consecutive nights, even though they really want to since they work so well.

Now, they are of course intended for work, not for sleep. A friend of mine, who’s an aeronautical engineer, told me they use these in the hangars, which says a lot about their noise reduction potential!

So if you have loud bedroom noise that no other earplugs seem to help with, the 3M 1100 might be up to the task. I wouldn’t wear them every night, but they are good to have on hand when none of the softer earplugs seem to do the trick.

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3. Howard Leight Max-1

large size, with great noise reduction

Noise reduction rating: 33 dB

Howard Leight MAX 1

The Howard Leight Max-1 offer the top noise reduction rating of 33 dB, and this was definitely reflected in my tests.

I found they were particularly good at reducing the sound of snoring. And they also did very well in all of my other tests, successfully cutting out the sound of television, music, traffic, and talking.

They are one of the longest and widest earplugs I’ve tried. They also have a handy tapered end, so along with the Howard Laser Leight, were the easiest to remove.

Even though they were one of the largest earplugs, they were also one of the softest, feeling very comfortable to wear throughout the night.

Note that all Howard Leight earplugs are specifically intended for people who work in noisy environments. So they come in individually wrapped pairs, which is more hygienic than open packs. The cost is also less per pair since you can buy them in bulk.

Despite how well they did in my tests, I don’t recommend these if you have small ear canals. You’d probably find they form a good seal if you actually get them in, but then feel uncomfortable at some point during the night.

For those with medium to large size ears though, they have a good balance of great noise reduction, comfortably soft foam, and are very easy to insert and remove.

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4. Moldex Pura-Fit

Good small size earplugs

Noise reduction rating: 33 dB

moldex purafit foam earplugs

I’ve been a fan of Moldex earplugs for sleeping for some time, using them personally for the last year. So I was pleased to see they did well in my tests, but surprised they didn’t come out on top!

With a high noise reduction rating, they performed well in all of my tests. But I did find the sound of the television louder than with the previous earplugs.

And although they did a good job of blocking snoring generally, they were perhaps a little less effective than the 3m 1100, Mack’s Original and Howard Leight Max-1.

The Pura-fit are quite small and take a long time to expand, so are very easy to get the right fit in your ear.

They are also one of the shortest, and even though they have a tapered end, can be fiddly to remove in the morning. The foam is soft though and felt very comfortable to wear when sleeping.

The Moldex Pura-fit didn’t stand out on any of my specific noise tests but were reliable and comfortable earplugs. They are probably better for those with smaller ear canals, so worth trying along with Mack’s original.

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5. Howard Laser Leight

Large size, easy to remove

Noise reduction rating: 32 dB

Howard Leight Laser Lite earplugs

The Howard Laser Leight would win hands down in a colorfulness competition – you’ll never lose these earplugs!

They were generally very good for blocking sounds like snoring and music. But they were perhaps a little weaker than the previous 4 earplugs when it came to talking and external traffic noise.

Like the Max-1, they seem to have been designed with easy removal in mind. They don’t even stand up because of the extra curve and wing shape, giving you more to grab with your fingers in the morning.

They are one of the largest earplugs, so like the Max-1, if you’ve struggled with smaller earplugs, these are good ones to try. I found them comfortable to wear in the night, and despite their size do feel soft in the ear.

Overall, if you have larger ears, I recommend trying these, the Max-1 or even both if you can. There’s not much difference between them in terms of effectiveness, so points like the ease of insertion and removal might be the deciding factors.

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6. Hearos Xtreme Protection

Softest large size

Noise reduction rating: 33 dB

HEAROS XTREME Foam Earplugs

Hearos Xtreme protection were strangely very good at blocking internal noise, but disappointing when it came to outside noise.

They really stood out when it came to blocking the sound of talking and the television. They were reasonably good for snoring and music too. But I could still hear too much of the traffic noise.

They are the second largest foam earplugs I tried, but one of the softest. They also take a very long time to regain their shape, so you have plenty of time to insert them, but will need to hold them in place longer than most earplugs.

And despite being so large, they felt surprisingly soft when wearing them in bed. So if you’re looking for large and comfortable earplugs, the Hearos Xtreme protection are a good choice.

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7. Moldex Sparkplugs

Good small size for snoring

Noise reduction rating: 33 dB

moldex sparkplugs

The difference between the two Moldex earplugs I tested illustrates well why factors like size, shape and fit in your ear canal also play a role. Both have a noise reduction rating of 33, but the Sparkplugs just didn’t work as well for me as the Pura-fit.

They were equally good for snoring and talking, but they just didn’t block music, the television, and traffic noise so well.

They are the pointiest of all the earplugs I tried, which might be good if you have small ear canals. But you do need to be careful not to insert them too deeply because of the pointier end.

They are also one of the smallest and thinnest. They do take a while to regain their shape (longer than the Pura-fit), so you have plenty of time to insert them carefully.

Although I think you need to be careful not to insert them too far, once you fit them correctly, they are very comfortable to wear throughout the night.

Overall, the Sparkplugs are perhaps more suitable for people with smaller ear canals. For nearby noise like snoring, they worked quite well for me.

But for environmental noise like distant television, music, and traffic, I think you need smaller ear canals to get the best out of them.

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8. Mack’s Ultra Soft

Most comfortable overall

Noise reduction rating: 32 dB

macks ultrasoft

Mack’s ultra soft are made from a low-pressure foam, which is great for those who sometimes find foam earplugs uncomfortable.

And with a noise reduction rating of 32, I expected them to be both comfortable and effective sound blockers.

I found that they were effective for blocking the external sound of traffic. They were also good for all the internal sounds – but just not quite as good as the previous earplugs.

They are the second thinnest foam earplugs I tried, yet have a good length to them compared to other thin earplugs. And that makes insertion and removal a little easier.

Overall, Mack’s ultra soft definitely lived up to their name and were very comfortable to wear. They weren’t the most impressive for noise reduction but did a reasonable job nonetheless.

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9. Quies

Best wax earplugs

Noise reduction rating: 27 dB

quies earplugsQuies are small balls of natural wax with a layer of cotton which you first remove. You then soften the wax with your finger, roll it into a ball and gently insert it into your ear.

It takes some practice to get the fit right, and I found they tended to fall out after a few hours, even with a good fit. But this has been the case with all wax earplugs I’ve tried, so it’s nothing new!

In my tests, they were much better at reducing the distant noise of traffic than any of the sounds in the house. They weren’t too bad for talking and did reduce the sound of snoring a little.

But for music and television, they didn’t reduce as much sound as the foam earplugs. They did feel comfortable though, and it was nice not to have the feeling of foam expanding in my ears.

If you prefer wax to foam, then Boules Quies are ones I’d try. But if you need the highest noise reduction possible, you’ll find wax earplugs in general provide less of a sound barrier than foam do.

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10. Mack’s Pillow Soft

Best silicone earplugs

Noise reduction rating: 22 dB

macks silicone earplugs

Mack’s pillow soft are made from a moldable silicone putty, and considerably larger than the Quies. You don’t insert them deep into the ear canal, but flatten them into place over the ear opening.

They were similar in effectiveness to the Quies wax earplugs in my noise tests. They did seem to help a little in the music next door test. But for the other sounds, and the external noise, the noise reduction was noticeably less than with the foam earplugs.

It was disappointing to still hear the drone of traffic quite clearly with the Mack’s. The low noise reduction rating of 22 dB was in this case definitely reflected.

On a more positive note, I found them very comfortable to wear, especially compared to larger foam earplugs. The fact that they don’t go into the ear canal, forming a seal over the opening instead, is the main draw for people who find foam uncomfortable.

So if you don’t want to use foam, and don’t have much noise to contend with, then Mack’s pillow soft earplugs can help you bring the noise level down a little.

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