Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping (7 Methods That Work)

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In this article guide, I’ll be showing you the best alternative to earplugs for sleeping. While foam earplugs are highly effective in reducing noise in every frequency range, not everyone can tolerate such devices near their ear canal.

One of the reasons you should avoid earplugs is that they can cause wax build-up, which can result in several problems, including tinnitus and temporary hearing loss.

Additionally, they’ve been shown to cause ear infections as a result of wax build-up or bacteria growing on the earplugs. (Source)

For this reason, it’s best to find alternatives that work. In this guide, I’ll be guiding you through some of the best alternatives to earplugs for sleeping.

What Is the Best Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping?

The best alternative to earplugs for sleeping is a white noise machine. One of the recommended options in this case is SNOOZ White Noise Sound Machine.

A white noise machine has been shown to help settle difficult babies. (Source)

These gadgets produce soothing sounds that help mask background noises. The applications of white noise machine include:

  • City street noise
  • Noisy neighbors
  • Snoring
  • Office privacy
  • Noisy hotel rooms
  • Barking dogs

Some like the SNOOZ above feature adjustable tones to ensure that the user finds the perfect soothing sound.

Additionally, some feature companion app (available for android and iOS) to enable you to control it remotely.

For example, the SNOOZ above features a “Nursery Calibration” tool designed to help protect your child’s ear from the sound that’s too loud. It also features an auto on/Off scheduler.

It’s also important to note that you can use white noise devices to improve the effectiveness of existing noise-reducing gadgets, including earplugs and sleeping earmuffs.

A-List of the Best Alternatives to Earplugs for Sleeping

While a white noise machine may sound like the real deal, there are other earplugs alternatives you can choose from. They are effective and yet affordable.

As mentioned above, you can combine a white noise machine with any other recommended alternative below.

1. Soundproofing

If you’re looking for an alternative that’s long term, then consider soundproofing your home.

Soundproofing is an effective way of dealing with outside noises.  Basically, you’ll have to start by finding out the parts of your house responsible for leaking noises in.

Windows and doors are the biggest culprits.

You can use simple weatherstripping and soundproofing curtains to soundproof the windows (Here’s a guide on soundproofing windows). One of my recommended noise reducing curtains is NICETOWN 3 Pass Microfiber Noise Reducing Drapes.

Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping

Alternatively, you can hire a professional to install a double pane window and replace your hollow door with a solid core door.

If you suspect floor is the culprit, here is a guide to help you soundproof the floor in your apartment.

2. Headband Headphones

They are not only good for sleeping but also for travel, relaxation, tinnitus, meditation, and much more.

As their name suggests, these are headbands with soft speaker inserts and are designed for both back and side sleepers.

They don’t block noise alone. Instead, you play white noise from a white noise app on your smartphone. You’ll be able to mask out background noises and listen only to the soothing and relaxing sounds.

Unfortunately, they won’t block out loud noises. Therefore, you can use them alongside other hack recommended above, such as soundproofing the bedroom.

Soundproofing your room will eliminate loud noises. However, because DIY soundproofing doesn’t 100% reduce outside noise, you can use the headband headphones to muffle sounds that still leak in your room.

3. CPAP Machine for Snoring Partner

Snoring is a common problem for couples/partners who share a bed. It’s impossible to sleep next to a snoring partner.

Snoring is a significant cause of sleep apnea, a condition associated with irregular sleep patterns. (Source)

Therefore, you’ll both wake up feeling exhausted. Luckily, investing in a quiet CPAP machine can solve the two problems at once.

The machine will help prevent snoring, allowing your partner to sleep comfortably. You also won’t be awakened from your sleep by the snores anymore.

However, if your partner finds the device uncomfortable, you could try something as simple as this Breathe Right Nasal Strips to help reduce snoring.

4. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping

I would only recommend this option for back sleepers only- for it would be impossible for side sleepers to use noise-canceling headphones.

One of the most popular and recommended noise-canceling headphones on the market today is Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones.

They are designed to clear away the distractions of the world and focus on whatever you do.

They are designed to cancel low-frequency noise, including humming machines, noisy upstairs neighbors, traffic noise, airplane noise, and even generator noise.

Here’s a trick you can implement:

Download a white noise application on your mobile phone. Connect your noise-canceling headphones with your smartphone via Bluetooth and enjoy soothing sounds as you go to bed.

5. Silicone Putty or Moldable Earplugs

If you find it irritating using foam earplugs, moldable earplugs are an excellent alternative for sleeping.

The moldable earplugs don’t need to be inserted deep into the ear canal. You only need to mold them into a ball and press them against the ear and only seal the ear canal entrance.

They don’t exert pressure and hence won’t feel uncomfortable even after months of use.

The best part is that these earplugs are very useful in noise reduction.

Two of the most recommended products are Ohropax Reusable Wax/cotton Ear Plugs and Macks Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs, which have a noise reduction rating of 23 and 22 decibels, respectively.

6. Sleeping Earmuffs

While earplugs and earmuffs serve the same purpose, earmuffs win the day in the long run.

Although earplugs are lightweight and portable, they are often challenging to wear for a long time.

On the other hand, earmuffs are easy and comfortable to wear, although they don’t effectively block unwanted noises as earplugs.

Earmuffs have a noise reduction rate (NRR) of 31.  Therefore, when buying an earmuff, go for one that has higher NRR ratings.

One of my most recommended options is the Wrap-a-Nap Travel Pillow. You can also choose this LISITER Ear Muffs for Sleeping with Sleep Mask, which can reduce noise approximately by 15-20 decibels.

7. Soundproof Paint

Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping

I earlier mentioned that you can combine two or three methods discussed in this guide for maximum effectiveness.

In this case, after soundproofing your bedroom, you can use soundproof paint to paint the walls.

It’s much thicker than your regular paint and gets its density from a combination of sound-absorbing fillers and ceramic micro spheres.

One of the most recommended paint is Acousti Coat – Sound Deadening Paint.

It’s worth noting that soundproofing paint alone won’t get the job done. However, when combined with other soundproofing methods, you’ll be able to eliminate most unwanted outside noise.

Final Thoughts on Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping

If you can’t sleep due to unwanted noises ruining your sleep, the above solutions will help you fix just that. One of my best alternatives to earplugs for sleeping is a white noise machine.

They produce soothing sounds that will set you ready for sleep. Though they are popular in baby nurseries, you can use them in your bedroom as well.

Alternatively, download a white noise app on your mobile phone and use noise-canceling headphones to listen to the soothing sounds.

3 thoughts on “Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping (7 Methods That Work)”

  1. This might sounds crazy but I live on a busy main street and my bedroom is infront of the house. The only thing that has ever worked for me are my black out heavy duty curtains and the sound of an oscillating fan playing on my Google home app during the night until I wake up. Hope this helps others suffering from insomnia.


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