Ear plugs

Ear plugs

See the article about firearms for an introduction. Here, I’ll focus on sleeping with earplugs rather than the other activities. The list is ordered subjectively, from the best to the worst.

Alpine SleepSoft

Soft slats, SNR 25 dB. Sleeping on the side may take some position searching, and you may succeed in wiggling them out, but they’re generally great, somehow just get wet rather than stained, and don’t need to be discarded after a few uses, unlike the rest here. Sadly, my ear canals have started getting itchy with them.

Quies

Wax, SNR 27 dB. Finicky to set up, what with removing all the surrounding cotton and softening them up in hand, and I’m afraid of pushing them in way too deep. They wiggle out too easily when sleeping on the side. But thanks to their smaller size, they’re also fairly comfortable, and they don’t absorb earwax.

Mack’s Snore Blockers

PU foam, SNR 34 dB. I have no issues sleeping with them, and they’re indeed highly effective at blocking sound, but they also get immediately stained with ear wax, which needs to be removed with soap, and then you have to let them slowly dry out. A great sense of discomfort after taking them out--they might be the wrong size for me.

3M E-A-R Soft FX

PU foam, SNR 39 dB. Technically similar to Snore Blockers, but not marketed for sleeping. Indeed, after a longer period, they get super uncomfortable, and seem to have woken me up. But the shape is a bit nicer, in that I’m not that afraid of sticking them in too deep. They also provide the strongest attenuation.

Mack’s Pillow Soft

Silicone putty, SNR 24 dB. It’s tricky for me to get a good seal, and then my ear can hurt slightly from the pressure. Somewhat surprisingly, they survive eating (jaw movements). Particularly uncomfortable for sleeping on the side, because it’s a big blob of silicone that gets pushed in. On the plus side, they’re a lot more hygienic.

Future: Look for more comfortable PU foam

Candidates:

  • Mack’s Slim Fit: good review, might be more comfortable

  • Mack’s Ultra Soft: again, might be more comfortable

Alternatives

Adding background noise is similarly effective, even if I’m not particularly comfortable with putting a constant load on my hearing. Plus, it seems to work as an alarm clock--I get woken up by the sudden absence, despite having made the playback fade out gradually. In any case, I don’t expect any great reliability here, and I haven’t measured the delay yet either.