If you're a side sleeper who struggles to get a good night's rest due to noise disruptions, you may want to consider using sleep earbuds for side sleepers. But with so many options on the market, how do you know which features are must-haves versus just marketing hype? Today's blog post will walk you through the key factors to look for when shopping for earplugs optimized for side sleeping.
Comfortable Fit and Design
The most important feature of earplugs for side sleepers is comfort. Since we place pressure on one ear throughout the night when sleeping on our side, that ear canal is far more sensitive to any discomfort or irritation from earplugs. So the top priority is finding a pair made of soft, pliable materials that conform to the unique shape of your ear canal without applying unwanted pressure.
Look for earplugs made of memory foam, silicone, or wax as these materials mold to the contours of each person's ear for a custom, comfortable fit. The shape and design should allow the earplug to be inserted easily and deep enough into the ear canal to block noise but not so deep that it presses on the eardrum. Avoid rigid, one-size-fits-all earplugs as they often feel foreign and awkward in side sleepers' ears.
An ergonomic design with tapered ends or flared edges can allow the sleep earplug to be inserted more deeply while minimizing pressure points in the ear. Earplugs that come in multiple sizes are also beneficial since everyone's ear anatomy is slightly different. Trying out a few sizes and styles to find your perfect seal and pain-free comfort is key.
Noise Reduction Rating
Of course, the main purpose of earplugs is to block out disruptive noises so you can sleep soundly through the night. To compare the noise-blocking capabilities of different earplug models, check the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). The higher the NRR, the greater noise dampening ability the earplugs possess.
For moderate sleep environments like a bedroom with a snoring partner, look for sleep earplugs with an NRR of 20 to 25 decibels. But if you live in a very noisy setting near traffic, construction, or loud roommates, you may need an NRR of 30 or higher to fully mute the environment. Just be wary of extreme NRR levels above 33, as completely eliminating all noises can prevent you from hearing your alarm in the morning.
While NRR provides a helpful standard for comparison, keep in mind that the reduction will vary based on proper fit. Earplugs that seal completely and securely in your ear canal will perform closer to their maximal NRR, while a loose fit allows more sound leakage. Testing out a few pairs to find the best noise blocking for your ears is ideal.
In line with noise reduction, it's crucial that the earplugs fully seal off the ear canal so no gaps allow sound waves to penetrate. Flanged silicone styles often succeed in creating a tight seal for side sleepers when inserted properly. But foam earplugs that tightly expand to fill the canal also block noise effectively when fitted correctly.
If you frequently find yourself adjusting and repositioning earplugs at night, it's a sign they aren't securely sealing. Test out a few wearing options, such as sizing up or down in size, adjusting the insertion depth, or trying different folding techniques if using foam earplugs. The right seal should feel snug but not tight. You should forget you are even wearing sleep earplugs once they are in place.
Since our ears continue producing wax and moisture while we sleep, it's important to select earplugs that won't absorb all that fluid. Otherwise, the trapped moisture against the ear canal all night can lead to pain, itching, and even infections of the ear.
Seek out earplugs made with non-absorbent materials like silicone or plastic. They will prevent moisture build-up compared to very absorbent foam earplugs. Wax earplugs are also naturally repellent to moisture absorption. Regular cleaning and replacement of sleep earplugs are still recommended for proper hygiene and performance.
Reusable or Disposable
Both reusable and disposable earplug options can work well for side sleepers. Reusable pairs made of plastic, silicone or wax can be cleaned and used for weeks or months, saving you money in the long run. Just be diligent about replacing them every 3-6 months for cleanliness and noise-blocking integrity.
Disposable foam earplugs are convenient if you want the ease of grabbing a new pair every few nights without cleaning. However, they can become less effective more quickly after compressing to fit in your ears. Budget-friendly foam pairs work well if you change them frequently, while higher-end memory foam disposables retain their shape and seal longer.
Try out both reusable and disposable varieties to decide which you prefer. Reusable plugs provide better longevity and value if you keep them clean. Disposables are great for travel or sharing with a partner. As long as you find the pair that fits your ears comfortably, either style can work.
Since earplugs are so tiny, they can be tricky to handle, insert, and remove from your ears efficiently in the dark. Finding earplugs with visibility features can make the experience much easier as a side sleeper.
Look for sleep earplugs with bright colors, reflectivity, glow-in-the-dark coatings, or attachment cords. This visibility allows you to quickly locate them at night and insert them without fumbling around. It also helps you remove them effortlessly in the morning when your eyes are still adjusting to wakefulness.
Finding the ideal earplugs tailored specifically for side sleeping comfort can be life-changing if noise is disrupting your rest. By prioritizing a customized fit, sufficient noise reduction rating, secure seal, non-irritating materials, and visibility features, you can enjoy peaceful slumber without ear pain or constant adjustments. Test out a few of the highest-rated earplug pairs to determine which addresses your specific sleep environment and ear anatomy needs. With the right match, you'll finally block out the noise and get the high-quality sleep your mind and body crave.