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Best Earplugs

Jul 05, 2023

We tried seven models to find out which helped us sleep better

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If noise is keeping you up at night, you’re not alone, and it’s something you need to fix. Studies have linked lousy sleep—which can be caused by a number of factors, including noise pollution—to poor overall health (more on this below).

Along with white noise machines and sleep masks, a relatively low-cost solution could be earplugs, and there are scads of designs, from the ubiquitous soft foam variety to moldable ones, to a premolded style that is more like earphone earbuds.

To see if earplugs would help CR’s staff get more zzz’s (especially to dampen the din from a few snoring-prone bedmates), we recruited seven team members to try three foam, two moldable, and three premolded earplugs (see “How We Evaluated Earplugs,” below).

We evaluated them for their noise-dampening ability, comfort, ease of use, and more. We also factored in each model’s NRR or noise reduction rating. And sleeping in some of them left us so unrested, our colleagues surely noticed a little crankiness the next day (sorry, friends). Here are our favorites.

See our expert tips for using earplugs the right way and keeping ears healthy.

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