Sleeping well is vital to staying healthy. Regularly getting a good night’s slumber will improve mental and physical health, boost productivity at work, help creativity, benefit the immune system and encourage your brain and heart to function properly. Sleep deprivation can lead to prematurely aged skin, lower libido and heightened susceptibility to diabetes or Alzheimer’s.
According to a survey cited by The Sleep Council, 70 per cent of us sleep for less than seven hours a night, which, for most people, is too little. Even the best duvet, the best mattress and the best pillow in the world are no good if your sleep is disturbed by noise, whether it’s neighbours partying, traffic thundering past or birds chirping at 4am.
The best earplugs can make a huge difference to your sleep quality. For many of us, these little buds are the only thing reducing noise pollution during the night. “Earplugs are great for blocking out noise such as snoring partners, or for using in the warmer months when you may leave a window open at night,” explains Lisa Artis, chief adviser at The Sleep Council.
The good news is they’re cheap (although high-end ear plugs are available — see our review below), they’re easy to use, and, on the whole, they work. I’ve tested pretty much every one on the market. You can read my full reviews below but, if you’re in a rush, here’s a quick look at my top five:
Which are the best earplugs in 2024? At a glance
Which earplugs are best for sleeping?
There are three main kinds. Wax earplugs come as a cylinder or ball that you warm in your hands and mould into a cone before placing in the ear. The benefits are that they can be shaped to fit and, being quite dense, block out a considerable amount of noise.
Reusable silicone earplugs, which you wash in cold water between uses, are lighter and more comfortable. Some find them less effective at filtering out noise, though in tests our reviews editor didn’t find this to be the case. But they do cost more than disposables.
Foam earplugs are the cheapest option and being soft, they’re reasonably comfortable for sleeping in. However, as a porous material they’re a fertile breeding grown for bacteria, so you have to replace them regularly.
White noise for sleeping is increasingly popular. The mixed frequencies mask unwanted sounds at night and, for people who don’t want it playing over speakers (perhaps your partner doesn’t like it), there are now specially-designed white noise earplugs, like the Bose Sleepbuds reviewed below.