Can anyone recommend me some ear plugs for sleeping?
August 24, 2010 2:22 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend me some ear plugs for sleeping?

I currently live in a flat (in the UK) with four other students of the same young young as me at university, but I go to sleep a lot earlier than they do (at about 10:30-11:00pm).

I've found that 'earfit foam earplugs' (the ones you roll between your fingers, which then expand out again after you put them into your ears) work the best. But it still doesn't cut out enough of the noise for me to go to sleep (I'm a very heavy sleeper, but can't actually get to sleep with much noise).

Can someone reccomend me some ear plugs that are more heavy duty than the foam ones that I could purchase so I can get to sleep through the night noise of uni students please.
posted by sockpim to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I've found that at a certain level of noise, it's impossible to completely cancel it with earplugs. I resolved this by purchasing a set of IEMs (the earphones that are seated snugly inside your ear canal, just like earplugs) and playing a looping recording of white noise. I currently use the "white noise" iPhone app, but a looping audio file will do fine as well; combined with the built-in noise suppression of the earphones themselves, you only need to play white noise at a very low volume.

As for the earbuds, I'd recommend the Shure SE210s because they're designed to be worn while sleeping as they don't stick out of your ears when you wear them.
posted by helios at 3:10 AM on August 24, 2010

Have you only used the totally cylindrical foam types, like these? I found that they don't work nearly as well as earplugs with a curved shape, like these.

I don't use them myself, but I think the type with ridges are supposed to be even more heavy-duty.
posted by neushoorn at 3:11 AM on August 24, 2010

The best buds you can get are the Howard Leight Max - you literally can't get any higher. If those glorious, pillowy bastards can't do the job, you will not find what you need through conventional methods.

Personally, I'd just move. It's not worth the bad feelings being kept awake engenders for me.
posted by smoke at 3:13 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, when I was in the Army sleeping in a barracks full of ne'er-do-well wanna-be soldiers wasn't easy. Which was odd, because we were all always exhausted during training. Perhaps being without drill sergeants for more than five minutes was just too much for a rambunctious group of teenagers and 20-somethings. Anyway, at first I used the foam ones you spoke of to drown out the sounds of two platoons jabbering on into the night, they worked but not really well. When I used the triple-flange earplugs I had much more luck; I could barely hear a peep with those in. Both were designed to be used on rifle ranges with as many as 30 or 40 soldiers on the firing line at a time. I think the triple flange worked best for me.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:36 AM on August 24, 2010

I find that the moldable silicon ones (you can get them in boots) are much more effective than the foam ones.
posted by rhymer at 4:00 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

The moldable silicon ones are very effective when they are fresh, mould well and stick - they lose their grip on your skin after a while though. Since the pack is quite expensive for three pairs it might end up being costly to replace them every couple of weeks.
posted by lilyflower at 4:44 AM on August 24, 2010

I use EAR Taper-Fit 2s every night. They won't block everything, but they're the best non-custom solution I've found. That Earplug Superstore site I've linked to is happy to charge UK cards and ship over here, as well.
posted by Kreiger at 5:05 AM on August 24, 2010

There's a trick to inserting them: you have to reach around the back of your head, pull up the top of the ear opposite your arm (that's wrapped around your head) and then insert the rolled (and I moisten them after rolling) plug down into the ear canal. Huge improvement.
posted by kidelo at 5:37 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Having had two successive significant others that snore, I can tell you that wax earplugs are the only solution. I get mine at Boots. They are cheap, readily available and the best solution.
posted by TheRaven at 5:48 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I too have found that the shaped foam plugs work much better than simple cylindrical ones, so... if you're using cylindrical ones, stop! They're junk. Someone else has already mentioned Howard Leight plugs. I use a different model and I've found that they do a great job of eliminating all annoying sounds (like a loudly snoring husband about 8 inches away from me!) I got a case of them on amazon for a really good price. Look here. Another thing, make sure you're not trying to use each set of plugs more than 2 or 3 times. After just a few wearings, they lose their ability to mold to the shape of your ear canal. (Ergo, the purchase of an entire case of the things.)
posted by rhartong at 6:45 AM on August 24, 2010

There's a trick to inserting them.

Right! Good mention, kidelo. I also put a little baby oil in my ear canals before inserting the plugs, too, to help them slide in as far as they can go. That has helped significantly. (It probably also helps to form a better seal between the plug and my skin.)
posted by rhartong at 6:49 AM on August 24, 2010

My gf swears by Hearoes Xtreme (US product but available via Amazon UK).

However, she thought the best ones she's ever tried are ones I occasionally use – Bioears – but they are reusable mouldable blobs of plasticky wax rather than foam. Once you get the technique of blocking your outer ear with them they are brilliant. I use them at festivals and can sleep through all sorts of racket.
posted by i_cola at 6:58 AM on August 24, 2010

I have the same issue with my roommates, and I actually use a fan as a white noise machine. For some reason, it blocks out noise better than anything else I've used. If it's cold in the room and you don't actually need a fan, then just turn it away from you.
posted by lunasol at 7:21 AM on August 24, 2010

After trying tons of different ones, I picked up these in a hospital and they're leagues ahead of the rest. In the summer I have an industrial fan right next to my bed and can barely hear it using these. I bought my last batch from the eBay seller above, so you shouldn't have any problems
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 8:51 AM on August 24, 2010

I'm a somewhat fussy sleeper and often sleep in ear plugs because they help me stay asleep, not just get to sleep. Basically most ear plugs are going to knock about 30 dB max off of the ambient noise. If you're in a situation where the ambient noise is either a lot louder than that, or spikes over that frequently, you're still going to hear stuff. I use the tapered foam ones that you can buy in bulk at Home Depot and change them out when they get mungy or otherwise stop being effective. I find that keeping a fan running can also help a lot.
posted by jessamyn at 9:58 AM on August 24, 2010

I like Mack's Pillowsoft earplugs. I use them to swim too. They have worked for me for years. I have shared space with loud snorers and these keep me asleep. I take them when I travel too, you never know when you need them.
posted by chocolatetiara at 10:00 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Frankly, the silicone earplugs have been the only ones that blocked out noise for me. I was camping out with a heavy snorer and didn't hear it AT ALL when I used those, and that's the first time I've ever not heard someone snoring in my vicinity. My experience with the foam ones has been the same as jessamyn's.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:32 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Most of the suggestions for earplugs here have been good, and have been things I've tried. Ultimately, I found little difference in sound-blocking between a lot of these choices, as the biggest issue for me, and probably for others is comfort and sleeping position. The softest foam ones are the most comfortable for me, as anything that sticks out or is firm becomes a problem when I sleep on my side.

If you wear your current earplugs, put on isolating headphones over those, and wrap your head in a pillow, can you still hear the noise? If so, you may be dealing with a level of sound that is being transmitted through body or bed direct vibration. IANAAE (I Am Not An Audio Engineer), but that has been my experience; even with the most sound-blocking in place, sound will still get through somehow.

What I also found was that continuous, steady noise was a lot easier to deal with than occasional, varied noise. Is that your issue in being kept awake?

I think your best bet may be to combine earplugs with a steady source of noise, like a white noise generator that turns off after, say, an hour.
posted by MonsieurBon at 1:52 PM on August 24, 2010

I had some custom made at a hearing aid place for only $75 CDN!
posted by analog at 6:21 PM on August 24, 2010

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