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Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping: The 7 Best Methods

Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping

Have you been up all night because of your LOUD snoring partner?

Or is it because of the NOISY environments like college parties or dogs barking?

Earplugs are an easy solution, but they aren’t exactly the comfiest for sleeping, right? What if we tell you that there are ALTERNATIVES that work?

From noise-canceling headphones to soundproofing, we listed down 7 methods to help you deal with the noise coming from all around your home!

Best Budget Pick
Passive Noise Cancelling Earmuffs
Best Overall
Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
Most Soothing Option
White Noise Machine
Table of Contents

7 Best Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping

Here are the top 7 alternatives to earplugs for sleeping that will block all unwanted sound, alongside our top product recommendations for each of them.

1. Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Nothing beats the power of over-the-ear active noise cancelling headphones!

It is a great alternative for ear plugs to reduce nighttime noise.

Other than that, they are very comfortable to wear and work sufficiently for low-frequency noise such as:

  • Traffic noise
  • Airplane noise
  • Bass-heavy music
  • Generators
  • Humming machines

But its ability to block noise from footfalls, snoring noises, airplane, and traffic noise depends on its technology and features.

Plus, over-the-ear noise canceling headphones are NOT FOR SIDE SLEEPERS, and we would not recommend that you sleep with them with a normal pillow.

Our Recommendation: Bose QC35 ANC Headphones

Best Overall

Bose QC35 ANC Headphones

This noise-canceling headphones by BOSE is one of the best snoring noise blockers you can get!

It has reliable noise isolation that effectively muffles loud noises and HIGHER-PITCHED environmental noise.

Our tip? Play white noise at a moderate volume to eliminate the unwanted noises!

Also, if you move a lot when you sleep, use a U-shaped memory foam when you sleep.

You can bring these headphones anywhere because it has an ultra-slim travel case!


  • Works effectively to muffle sounds and high-pitched environmental noise
  • Topnotch snoring noise blockers
  • Very comfortable to wear


  • The battery isn’t user-replaceable
  • It can cause an uncomfortable eardrum sensation called “eardrum suck”

2. Passive Noise Cancelling Earmuffs

We would not forget to recommend an alternative that would BLOCK passive noise.

These noise reduction earmuffs are your answered prayer in blocking noise during the daytime while protecting your ears.

Many people use this from students, office workers, and mediators to help increase focus.

This would be a great alternative because its clamping force is HIGHER than normal headphones but not too tight that it’s uncomfortable for you to sleep with.

Aside from our top recommendation below, we also have a dedicated buying guide on noise-cancelling earmuffs if you’re interested in more options.

Our Recommendation: 3M Peltor X4A Over-the-Head Ear Muffs

Best Budget Pick

3M Peltor X4A Over-the-Head Ear Muffs

If you don’t want to stay asleep but rather stay focused, this is one of the best ear muffs you can get!

These are very effective low-profile alternatives to earplugs. They are light and INCREDIBLY well-made to fit both small and large heads.

They have equally slim cups that block outside noises, and they are both good for kids and adults!


  • Great for blocking outside noise
  • Suitable for both kids and adults
  • Can fit in small and large heads


  • The openings of its ear cushions are smaller than other models
  • Uncomfortable for people with large ears

3. White Noise Machine

White noise machines are not the same as wearing earplugs for sleeping, but they can surely help you fall asleep!

A white noise machine creates background noise and soothing sounds to distract you from the loud noise and help you doze off.

Whether it’s to block active noise, barking dogs, or passive noise without getting ear infections and damaging your ear canal entrance, a white noise machine is a great solution.

Playing soothing sounds can help increase the noise reduction rate, so give it a go!

Why Is a White Noise Machine Considered a Great Alternative to Earplugs?

It spares you the discomfort of wearing something to block noise like ear plugs and active noise cancelling headphones.

Even if earplugs lower noise levels substantially, they also lower the comfort levels around your ears and head!

A white noise machine can consistently play sounds that can DISTRACT you and drown out those unexpected changes.

White noise machines are much more recommended to babies and adults than ear plugs.

But hey, whatever suits you more!

Our Recommendation: Hatch Restore

Most Soothing Option

Hatch Restore

This white noise machine has a rich variety of impressive features and soothing sounds.

It has a huge library of soundscapes like the ocean waves and even a waterfall-like sound!

Sleepers can also CREATE their sleep routine with this sound machine, and you can install the white noise app and control it from your phone!

Consider the white noise app your speedway to sleep!


  • Huge library of soundscapes
  • Comes with an application
  • Creates sleeping routine


  • Requires a subscription after the free 6-month trial

4. Foam/Silicone Earplugs

Who said that foam earplugs were not an alternative to earplugs? They’re wrong!

Foam earplugs or silicone earplugs are just the SAME. But if your ears start to ITCH from earplugs made of foam, try moldable earplugs instead.

Moldable earplugs do not need to be inserted deep into the ear canal.

In fact, you only need to GENTLY press them against your ear and seal your ear canal entrance.

These are useful for noise reduction, and they won’t be uncomfortable even after using them for MONTHS.

Our Recommendation: Ohropax Reusable Wax EarPlugs

Ohropax Reusable Wax EarPlugs

These reusable wax ear plugs have the special advantage of being STICKY.

This is perfect for people who do not want to wear noise cancelling headphones or buy white noise machines.

You have to remove the cotton wrapping, roll them into a ball, and flatten them over your external acoustic meatus.

It’s excellent for unwanted noises and can BLOCK low-frequency noise too! Plus, for a reusable earplug, its noise reduction rating is HIGH at 23 dB.


  • They are sticky and maintain a good seal
  • Has a good frequency-range
  • Comfortable to use even after several months


  • Stickiness leaves residue near the ear canal
  • Creates a strong occlusion effect

5. Sleep Headphones

Another great alternative to earplugs for sleeping would be sleep headphones.

These are like headband headphones that have soft speaker inserts.

It’s similar to sleep masks, and both side and back sleepers can use them!

You can put in your moldable earplugs for sleeping while you play white noise at night; it’s the PERFECT combination!

Our Recommendation: HoomBand Wireless Sleep Headphones

HoomBand Wireless Sleep Headphones

These sleep headphones by Hoomdband EARNED its title as the best sleep headphones and possibly the best alternative to earplugs for sleeping!

This is MADE for sleeping, and you can even wear earplugs or ear buds to REALLY block all the loud snoring, loud noises, and outside noise!

It has two ultra-thin flat speakers placed under some foam. It’s also made of a soft 3D mesh that regulates body temperature.

You can play background music for 100 HOURS with different choices as you sleep while reducing noise.


  • Can connect via Bluetooth
  • Has 100 hours of audio content
  • Regulates body temperature


  • Could be an awkward fit for some

6. CPAP Machine for Snoring Partner

Snoring could be a common problem in some households, also for couples and even siblings!

Snoring is a major cause of SLEEP APNEA, a condition with irregular sleep patterns.

You both get exhausted and do not get enough rest and sleep.

Luckily, the invention of the quiet CPAP machine will help keep your roommate or partner from snoring.

Our Recommendation: DreamStation Go CPAP Machine

DreamStation Go CPAP Machine

This machine only produces 30 decibels while operating. It’s perfect because it does not produce high-pitched sounds that will disturb you while it’s doing its job.

You and your roommate or partner can develop a relaxed and UNINTERRUPTED sleep pattern!

Moreover, CPAP therapy also helps protect patients with sleep apnea from other health risks, including:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeats

While you’re at it, it’s great to practice your breathing exercises too!


  • Prevents loud snoring
  • Prevents heavy health risks
  • Develops a more soothing and unbothered sleep pattern


  • Sounds feel louder every time you switch to a new machine

7. Soundproofing

Saving the best for last — if you’re really looking for an alternative to earplugs for sleeping that goes LONG-TERM, it’s soundproofing!

Soundproofing will block all startling noises that bother light sleepers and heavy sleepers.

You won’t have to buy sleep earbuds, headphones, foam earplugs, etc., to take care of all the other noises bothering you. However, it will COST A LOT MORE to soundproof your home.

There are many ways that you can soundproof, and there are some things to consider too:

  • Soundproof your ceiling
  • Install soundproof walls
  • Get a solid core door
  • Apply double glazed windows
  • Use acoustic foam
  • Use soundproofing room dividers

All of these are capable of combatting loud noises, even noises that peek through doors and cracks.

This will kill the need for a white noise machine, foam earplugs, noise canceling headphones, and sleep earbuds!

What Materials Are Best for Soundproofing?

  • You can achieve a soundproof ceiling and walls with soundproof paint. Soundproof paint is much thicker than regular paint because of its mixture of sound-absorbing fillers and ceramic-micro spheres.
  • You can soundproof doors by using a soundproof blanket or a door sweep.
  • You can also use an acoustic caulk sealant (e.g., Green Glue) to soundproof your windows.
  • You can get a soundproof bedroom by applying all of the above!

Why Use Alternatives to Earplugs for Sleeping?

People resort to getting an alternative to earplugs for sleeping to get better sleep or even a full 8-hour sleep.

Many of these alternatives dampen the noise and help people relax into slumber.

Sleep headphones and earplugs help block noises, white noise machines help drown out background noise, and a CPAP machine can eliminate snoring for a more peaceful environment.

Using an alternative to earplugs for sleeping can also prevent ear infections and help muffle high-frequency sounds.

The Drawbacks of Using Earplugs for Sleeping

While earplugs can be useful for many situations, they’re not perfect.

Here are some things you need to keep in mind when using them for sleeping:

#1 They Can Feel Claustrophobic

Ear plugs naturally BLOCK OFF your ear canals. While they help keep out debris and protect your ears, some people will feel like they’re an obstruction.

If you’re the type to easily feel uncomfortable with tight spaces, earplugs might not be for you.

Consider getting a white noise machine instead.

#2 Ear Wax Build Up

When you use ear plugs, the ear wax will get pushed back into your ear and snowball into a build-up.

If ear wax build-up gets left untreated, it can lead to DECREASED hearing, ear pain, itching, and ringing in your ear.

We advise you to clean your ears frequently. Although, over-cleaning can also lead to infection, irritation, and buildup, so don’t do it TOO often!

#3 They Can Cause Ear Pressure

Ear pressure occurs when the air pressure inside and outside the eardrum is different.

This can be painful and can cause DIZZINESS.

You can avoid this by getting better-fitting earplugs for your ears or settling with white noise machines instead.

#4 Bacteria

Bacteria can grow on foam earplugs, even more so on STICKY earplugs.

It can transfer bacteria into your ears and to your fingers. Yikes!

It is important to change the earplugs once you start to notice DISCOLORATION.

#5 They’re Not Always Effective at Blocking Out Sound

The ability of an earplug to completely block out all noises relies on how well they fit in your ears and how tight you make them.

However, the tighter you make them, the WORSE feeling your ears get!

Whether you’re a heavy or light sleeper, you’ll have to find the balance to get the best quietness and comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a curated set of questions to help you understand why any alternative to earplugs for sleeping might be better for you.

These guide questions might just be what you need to redirect you to a healthier sleep!

Can I Use Cotton Balls As Ear Plugs?

Technically, YOU CAN.

However, it will only provide a fair amount of noise reduction. You can press these gently at the FRONT of your ear canal and let them do their work.

Did you know that using cotton balls as an alternative to ear plugs is a famous myth about protecting your hearing?

Even if cotton balls are used as an ingredient in many well-known moldable earplugs, they won’t protect your hearing alone.

You’re better off trying different types of earplugs such as silicone, foam, beeswax, and moldable as better options.

What Are the Different Types of Earplugs?

Moldable Earplugs

These do not enter your ear canal. It can be used for five days before losing its elasticity.

They could be a customized fit to your ear and safely blocks out noise.

Other than that, they are better alternatives to earplugs for sleeping.

Silicone Earplugs

These are the best kind! They are both good for sleeping and swimming because they are WATERPROOF!

Plus, hard silicone earplugs give the benefit of being REUSABLE.

These little things can combat any constant annoying noise.

Foam Earplugs

This option goes under the ON-THE-BUDGET recommendations. But these kinds are soft and a good choice for sleeping.

You also need to replace them often because their porous material can cause bacteria to grow!

Beeswax Earplugs

Beeswax ear plugs come as a ball or cylinder that you warm in your hands and mold into a cone before putting it in your ear.

They can be shaped to fit and blocks out a GENEROUS amount of noise.

Can I Plug My Ears With Toilet Paper?

You can, but we don’t recommend using them.

Toilet paper is NOT as effective when you want to block out noise and may cause infection if you try to use them every day.

They are only a short-term fix but not 100% safe!

Is It OK to Use Earplugs Every Night for Sleeping?

It is generally okay to use ear plugs for sleeping. However, frequent use of ear plugs can cause minor problems in the long-run.

It’s important to observe PROPER HYGIENE to avoid the growth of bacteria and the possibility of ear damage.

Why Is White Noise a Better Alternative to Earplugs for Sleeping?

White noise machines technically do not block noises but rather help muffle loud noises around you.

A white noise machine can generate waterfall-like background noises that soothe the brain!

Instead of risking ear damage and health infections, white noise machines simply let you drown in peaceful sounds!

Can Other Alternatives to Ear Plugs Cause Ear Damage Too?


Not everything can guarantee 100% safety. It’s important to practice proper hygiene and be mindful of the health cautions that each product has before using them often.

This applies to all kinds of noise devices for noisy neighbors.


If you have trouble sleeping with unwanted noises, we’ve already provided many solutions for you to choose from.

The best alternative will depend on WHY you need it — just don’t forget to consider your allergies, budget, health condition, etc.

A combination that we would recommend would be wax or foam earplugs along with a white noise machine for noise blocking.

We hope you enjoy a quiet and peaceful sleep!


May 31, 2022 – added 1 new article link

About the Author


Andrea has always been bombarded by the hustle and bustle outside her home. Living in the city doesn’t get any quieter. The never ending noise from construction, traffic, and dogs barking on the streets day in and day out drove Andrea to a breaking point.

For 3 years, Andrea committed herself to studying DIY hacks, performing soundproofing experiments, and installing noise-free solutions. Now, she lives a quiet life free of the stress from noisy environments.

She hopes to share this knowledge so that others don’t have to endure the noise reigning in their ears and live a peaceful, stress-free life.