5 Alternatives to Ear Plugs for Sleeping (That Really Work)

A white noise machine as an ear plug alternative

Last updated: April 13, 2021 at 12:08 pm

There are many people that struggle with going to sleep in a noisy area or around loud noises. They are light sleepers and need to do something to cancel out the outside noises. Ear plugs for sleeping is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this issue. Not many people realize that ear plugs can not always be the best option for sleeping.

Not everybody can tolerate these devices during the night near the ear canal. That’s why some people look for different alternatives to ear plugs. Also, it is important to mention that ear plugs can be dangerous in some cases.

Of course, if worn correctly, you can avoid any inconvenience. But sometimes, people forget that ear plugs can cause wax build-up that can cause hearing loss. Also, ear plugs can be the cause of ear infections as the wax builds up and bacteria grows around them.

Here are 5 alternatives to ear plugs for sleeping that will help light sleepers to sleep better at night without using ear plugs.

5 Alternatives to Ear Plugs for Sleeping

Ear plugs can be not very comfortable to wear, and as mentioned above, they can also cause some issues with hearing and bring infections. Here are five alternatives to the regular ear plugs for sleeping, so you can finally get a good sleep in a quiet place.

1. White Noise Machine

Best for: Noise cancellation or sleepers who prefer nothing on their ears

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White noise machines have shown to be great for sleeping. They can even improve the quality of sleep. And many people choose to use white noise machines instead of ear plugs.

White noise machines produce a waterfall-like sound that helps to mask some disturbing outside noise.

By listening to this sound, you don’t hear any other noises anymore, as your mind completely ignores other sounds. Bad sleep quality can be a result of sudden and startling noises, so in those cases, white noise machines can really help.

They are effective because they reduce the difference between the background noise you hear and any other noises that may occur during the night. White noise machines work for a wide variety of noises, such as chatter, TV noises, barking dogs, etc. These devices are considered to be one of the most effective noise-cancelling tools available.

There is a great variety of white noise machines available on the market, but make sure you choose the one that allows you to adjust the pitch of white noise. You can then adjust the noise to match your room and the types of noises that you want to mask.

Also, this device is great to use in combination with other noise cancelling devices and tools. For example, you can use earmuffs or sleep headphones together with a white noise machine. This will cancel out the unwanted noises more effectively, especially if you want to reduce very loud noises.

And if you tried moldable wax or silicone putty ear plugs and noticed that they are not as effective as you’ve expected, then feel free to use them together with a white noise machine. It will definitely make your experience much better, and you will get the needed result.

What people also like about white noise machines is that you can play many different sounds using them depending on your preferences. You can choose the sounds of ocean waves or raindrops during heavy rain falling through the trees.

2. Moldable Wax or Silicone Putty Ear Plugs

Best for: Heavy sleepers who’d like a little more noise protection 

Some people face the issue of not tolerating the foam or triple flange ear plugs in the ear canal. That’s why a great solution, in this case, is moldable ear plugs for sleeping.

The regular foam ear plugs should be inserted quite deep into the ear canal, while these ear plugs seal right at the ear canal entrance. These plugs are rolled into a ball, then pressed against the ear and flattened. You may feel them in your ears at first, but you will not have any pressure in the ears.

However, these ear plugs are not as effective as foam plugs for low frequency noise. But still, they are considered very respectable in blocking the noise. You can use moldable wax or silicone putty ear plugs together with white noise machine, which will guarantee good quality of sleep, as together they will be effectively canceling loud noises during the night.

3. Sleep Headphones

Best for: Protection from low noise (will not block loud noises)

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Another great alternative is sleep headphones. These are headbands that have flat, soft speaker inserts. This is what makes these headphones perfect for both side and back sleepers. You can play white noise through your phone that will help to mask any moderate noises that keep you awake.

These headphones don’t stick to your ears, which makes them a worthy alternative to regular ear plugs. However, if you want to block loud noises, these headphones will not help you here.

In situations when you need to block really loud noises, you need to use the combination of two alternatives. You can wear moldable wax or silicone putty ear plugs together with sleep headphones. This will give you much more effective results than using these alternatives separately.

4. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Best for: Back or stomach sleepers

Noise-cancelling headphones are comfortable and very effective for low frequency noise, such as airplane and traffic noise, generators, etc. The only downside of noise-cancelling headphones is that they are not suitable for people that sleep on the side. However, there can be a solution to this problem.

Some people recommend using a memory foam travel pillow. It’s U-shaped, which allows you to lie on it on the side with your headphones.

5. Passive Noise-Cancelling Earmuffs for Sleeping

Best for: Back sleepers

This option is good, as it not only allows you to cancel out the noise but also protect your hearing. Noise-cancelling earmuffs can be very effective, but the most effective ones are very bulky as well. This makes it impossible to sleep with them. However, for back sleepers, these earmuffs may work.

Another thing about noise-cancelling earmuffs is that they can have a clamping force, which is higher than normal headphones. This can make sleeping with them uncomfortable, that’s why you need to choose them carefully and make sure you get the ones that are suitable for sleeping.

Can You Block Out Noise Without Using Ear Plugs?

There are many different factors that influence the noises you may hear at night that will not let you sleep. As mentioned above, you can use different devices that will help you to cancel out the noises around you. However, another important question is how can you make your sleeping environment quieter.

Here are some ideas to use if you want to make the environment in your home more suitable for sleeping.

Use Speakers to Play Background Music

You can play your favourite relaxing tunes from your speakers that will help you to relax and fall asleep. But here, you will need to keep the music quiet to not wake anybody up. You can play some background music without using a white noise machine as well.

If you don’t have speakers, you can use your phone or laptop that can play soothing playlists. Here you have a wide variety of choices.

Install Soundproof Walls, Door and Windows

The soundproof walls allow you to block out all of the noise coming from outside of the bedroom. Also, sometimes just shutting the door will not keep the outside noise from entering the room.

That’s why you need to make sure that your door is soundproof as well. To do so, you can add mass to it by installing a soundproof blanket or panel. You can also replace your current door with one with a solid core. And make sure your door is gapless, and a door sweep should be at the bottom.

If that didn’t help much, you could also install soundproof windows. The sounds can enter your space easily through small gaps in the windows. Another good tip is having thick curtains, as they can not only absorb the light but the sounds and noises too.

If the noises are coming from above, you can install a soundproof ceiling or floor. You can use acoustic foam on your ceiling, which will block all of the unwanted noises of footsteps. Also, it would be good to have soundproof walls. Thin walls can become a nightmare for people who are light sleepers.

In this situation, you can install acoustic foams and soundproof blankets. You can also use non-invasive solutions for the walls.

Can You Make Yourself Sleep Without Ear Plugs?

Yes, you can actually train yourself to sleep in noisy environments without ear plugs.
It’s important that we are able to sleep in any scenario. Here the main trick is to get into a sleepy state. Make sure your body is fully relaxed and calm. Do some breathing exercises to slow down your heartbeat and put the body in a relaxed state.

You can definitely train yourself to not use ear plugs for sleeping by using the alternatives that don’t require covering your ears. You can also use different combinations of noise blocking devices. This will guarantee more effective results and improvement in the quality of your sleep.

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About the Author: AJ

Hi, my name's AJ! I write about living a quieter life, soundproofing tips and recommending the best quiet products here on Quiet Living.

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