Cockadoodle STFU!
July 20, 2009 5:13 AM   Subscribe

I need some earplugs to block out rooster crows while I sleep. Help!

The neighbors a couple houses over decided it would be just dandy to have a rooster. The damn thing crows day and night. I did talk to the neighbors and they don't care. They got the rooster to have fresh eggs. Yeah, dumb as a box of rocks.

What kind of earplugs would block out the crows? I've tried the orange foam plugs fom Walgreens and some 3M earplugs that looked the same and worked about as well which is to say not very. While low frequency sound is blocked the high frequency stuff comes through pretty loud and clear. Clear enough that I wish Hawkeye was here with his powers of persuasion.

Does anyone have any earplug recommendations so I can sleep again?
posted by @homer to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I bought a box of these at a hardware store and I love 'em. Given how long they last (I use them for a couple of months or until they get gucky) it looks like that's a lifetime supply.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:45 AM on July 20, 2009

The best earplugs you can get are the kind where an audiologist takes a mould of your ear and then sends that away to have a custom plug made for you. But even so, they aren't that comfortable to sleep in, and they won't block out *all* the noise.

When I was sleeping in a rooster infested neighbourhood, I used to make a "sleepy time" play list and sleep with my ipod. It didn't go all night, but if I woke up at some point, I could always start it again and get back to sleep.

The good news is that if you are the kind of person who can sleep through other kinds of noise, you'll learn to sleep through this.
posted by carmen at 5:47 AM on July 20, 2009

I sleep with foam earplugs and have found that they work extremely well. I use "Mack's Ultra SafeSound Soft Foam Earplugs" from Target. It manages to block out the train line that I live next to, and keeps me from waking up when my cat breaks something. I can still hear sounds (like my alarm), but they are pretty easy to ignore. (FWIW, I got them for the cat, not the train. The L doesn't bother me at all. Hearing a glass break in the middle of the night scares me to death and is annoying to deal with... blocking out the sound lets me deal with the problem in the morning :)

Make sure you are inserting the earplugs correctly, a lot of people do this wrong and say they don't work. You have to put them all the way down your ear canal and wait for them to expand. Just pushing them in a little isn't going to work. It's an uncomfortable sensation at first, but you get used to it. (I feel ... naked ... when I sleep without my earplugs now.)

Anyway, I can't live without the earplugs. If you are inserting yours correctly and they don't block out enough sound to sleep, I pity you. (Next week on ask.mefi: "How can I covertly poison my neighbor's rooster?")
posted by jrockway at 5:48 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I live next to Metra tracks and near the 90/94 split with all the traffic noise that goes along and have no problem at all with those noises. For some reason I can't get used to this damn rooster. I do roll the plugs up and hold them in until they've fully expanded so I have that covered. I'll check out the foam plugs you guys mentioned. If anyone else has any ideas please reply!
posted by @homer at 5:55 AM on July 20, 2009

You might try your Walgreen's foam ones in conjunction with a white noise generator or a fan.
posted by heather-b at 6:01 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I know that this question as stated is narrowly targeted toward earplugs (and I hope this doesn't cross some line; I'm not denigrating the reader's solution), but have you at least taken a look at your town's nuisance ordinances? See if you can file a noise complaint with your town's police department, and try to corral other neighbors into coordinating the same. Would have more chance of working in a town or area of town that's not entirely rural.

If that doesn't work, but you have six-to-eight allied neighbors, you should attend a council meeting en masse to all raise the same complaint. In my town growing up, our dirt road went to absolute shit during the snowmelt one year, and after two weeks of having a mile-long portage where cars (and the school bus) couldn't drive, everyone banded together and crashed a city council meeting. And they got heard, let me tell you; there was an extensive article about it in the next day's paper.
posted by The Confessor at 6:04 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's easier to insert the foam plugs if you open your jaw. (Try sticking a finger in your ear and moving your jaw; you'll see why.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:13 AM on July 20, 2009

Best answer: One other tip; pull your ear lobe down as you are cramming the earplug in. I realized that I do this unconsciously, but it really helps the plug slide down the ear canal.

I did a bit of googling, and it seems that all the foam earplugs provide 32dB of isolation. I hope this is enough for you.

(I second the advice on white noise, like a fan. This is what I did before I discovered earplugs, but now I do both. Sleeping is a wonderful experience, as a result.)
posted by jrockway at 6:18 AM on July 20, 2009

Response by poster: I already contacted the alderman and unfortunately chickens are allowed in the city so he's no help. I've started to file noise complaints. The cops seem uninterested. With all the shootings lately I can understand why. There isn't much else from the city side. The neighbors hate the noise but nobody else wants to come together on this. :/
posted by @homer at 6:22 AM on July 20, 2009

No one has mentioned this, and maybe it wasn't clear. You are supposed to roll the foam plug between your thumb and forefinger and compress it until it's thin before you insert it into your ear. After it's in, it expands again and that's why it's good at plugging the ear canal.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:25 AM on July 20, 2009

Lifehacker posted a video of how to properly insert earplugs here. You should give the silicone plugs a try. They're intended for use by swimmers to keep water out of the ear canal, so they form an airtight seal. The material is much denser than foam plugs, so they keep out a lot more sound. When I wore them in the gym showers, I barely could hear the water running from 20 showers.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:19 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I sleep with earplugs every night and love them - I even wear them on the train and the airplane a lot of the time as I'm very sensitive to noise. I used this Slate article to find the best earplugs, ordered the Hearos, and I've never slept easier.
posted by hazyjane at 7:22 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chicken soup
posted by TruncatedTiller at 7:43 AM on July 20, 2009

Your neighbors do know that they will still get eggs if the rooster departs, right? Just as many eggs. They just won't be fertile, but that doesn't affect the taste or nutritive value any.
posted by bricoleur at 7:43 AM on July 20, 2009

Best answer: I used Hearos 32db foam earplugs throughout college when my roommate would stay up late playing WoW (which was basically every night). Trying to sleep with the intermittent clickety-click-click of the mouse and the tappity-tap-tap of the keyboard was impossible, but the earplugs really did the trick for me. Even after 3 years of that I was pretty good at it, but occasionally still had trouble seating the earplugs properly in my ear. They can be finicky, and sometimes you think it's in there properly only to discover a few minutes later that you can still hear stuff, especially higher frequencies. But when they were in properly, I found that I could hear practically nothing except for my clock-radio alarm (the loud blaring kind). One trick I found useful was to gently rub my fingers together a couple of inches away from my ear after the earplugs were in. If you can hear the swish of your fingers rubbing together, the plugs are not in properly.
posted by Nothlit at 8:04 AM on July 20, 2009

They got the rooster to have fresh eggs. Yeah, dumb as a box of rocks.

Speaking as someone who owns chickens, how about a mutually beneficial approach: you offer to rehome the rooster in return for giving them 5 laying hens. They'd be crazy or stubborn to not jump on that deal. If they say no, tell them the offer is still open anytime, and they might come to their senses later. You can arrange all this on Craigslist or and sell the rooster for $1. The payoff is sleep and the neighbors get eggs.
posted by crapmatic at 9:24 AM on July 20, 2009

I have a set of plugs from, but I've admittedly never used them while asleep. Pretty nice for the occasional too-loud concert though.
posted by GreenTentacle at 9:34 AM on July 20, 2009

Seconding looking into noise ordinances. Lots of cities allow chickens but not roosters for just this reason.
posted by rhizome at 11:23 AM on July 20, 2009

I went through this same thing in Austin. Chickens are allowed, but there are all sorts of requirements about how they are contained, and how far away they are from the surrounding houses. Maybe we can assume that the alderman wouldv'e volunteered such information, but maybe not. I'd go through the text of the livestock codes yourself. "Being allowed to have chickens in the city" in principle might not cover the rooster or the location of these particular chickens.

I did eventually get used to the rooster, after about eight months or so.
posted by thebazilist at 2:05 PM on July 20, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all. I appreciate your suggestions. A clarification on the rooster. There is only a rooster, no hens. No expectation of or desire for hens either. I think the whole how chickens work thing was missed when they put this all together.
posted by @homer at 2:05 PM on July 20, 2009

i am such a light sleeper that i can divide my life into two phases: before earplugs and after earplugs. ymmv, but i graduated from the spongy things to these. i think the NNR is not as high, but they have always worked better for me. they fit. they stay in. they don't get all goobered up. they're made for industrial work - i cut about a 1/4 inch off the stem so i can comfortably sleep in them. these are from the same online store as above and are only 2 bucks a pair, so you can try different kinds pretty cheaply.

honestly though, i don't think there is a barrier invented yet that is any match for barnyard animals, short of sticking your head in a bucket of silicone.
posted by hereticfig at 2:42 PM on July 20, 2009

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