What Are the Best Earplugs for Snoring?

The best earplugs for snoring

Your roommate or partner has just fallen asleep, and again “Chrrr, Chrr,” starts snoring.

You have spent countless nights lying awake, trying all kinds of tricks to quiet down that chainsaw next to you—to no avail.

This article is for you. We are going find the best earplugs for you to block snoring.

Contents:

How loud is snoring?

If you took a sound level meter and measured your partner’s snores, you would perhaps read an average noise level of 51 decibels (dBA).

But, snoring noise varies a lot in intensity.

Your mate’s loudest snores might reach 70 decibels or more.

That is four times as loud as his/her average snores, about as loud as a vacuum cleaner.

If you are like me, you will have a hard time adjusting to these ebbs and flows in noise intensity.

In 2009, newspaper outlets in the UK reported on the “super-snoring” grandmother, a retired bank worker whose snores reached a record of 111 decibels, louder than a jet engine.

This gives you an idea what snore-blocking earplugs are up against.

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How much snoring noise do the highest-rated earplugs block?

The strongest earplugs have a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 33 decibels.

Taking the previous example, 51-33 dB leaves a residue of 17 dB, with a peak of 70-33 dB = 37 dB.

That is—actually quite good.

Thirty-seven decibels is about as loud as a library and less than one-eighth as loud as 70 decibels.

Many people have no problems to fall and stay asleep in a library.

So the highest-rated earplugs can make a real difference if they block as much noise as stated on the package.

But while the noise reduction rating shows an earplug’s potential, everyone’s ear canal is different.

Some people have narrow ear canals, some have wide ones. Others still have very long or very short ear canals.

For optimal performance, you need an earplug that fits Your ear canal and you need to know how to insert it.

In this post, I aim to help you find the optimal anti snoring earplugs for your ear.

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Best earplugs for snoring — Wall of Fame

The following table provides an overview of the earplugs that I have found to work well, and guidance for whom they tend to work.

All of these earplugs are foam earplugs, and all of them have an NRR of at least 29 dB.

These will give you a good chance to get rid of enough of the snoring noise to be at ease and fall asleep.

RankNameNoise BlockingModerate SnoringLoud SnoringComfortInsertion EaseSizeRemarkNRR
1Flents Quiet Time & Moldex Purafit9/108/105/108/108/10Normal diameter, longerhassle-free,
for normal and longer ear canals
33
2Flents Quiet Please8/107/105/109/108/10Shortmoisture absorbing, for shorter ear canals29
33M 11008/107/105/109/107/10Normal diameter and lengthin a warm, humid climate hard to insert,
for normal ear canals
29
43M OCS11359/107/105/108/107/10Smaller diameterfor small ear canals33
5Howard Leight Max-18/107/105/106/107/10Large diameterfor wider ear canals33
6Moldex Sparkplugs9/108/105/106/108/10Large & Longfor large ear canals33
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Detailed earplugs reviews

Flents Quiet Time & Moldex Purafit (NRR-33)🏆

Flents-Quiet-Time-Moldex-Puratfit-snore-blockers

Best for:

  • Performance
  • Normal-size and slightly longer ear canals
  • Hassle-free insertion

Not optimal for:

  • Short ear canals

Flents Quiet Time and Moldex Purafit are my current favorites when it comes to blocking out snoring.

Snoring noise has quite a few peaks in the low-frequency range and a peak in the mid-frequencies as well.

To effectively block these disturbing snoring peaks, you need to insert your foam earplugs quite deeply, which I have found easier to do with Quiet Time and Purafit than with most other earplugs.

Provided they are properly inserted, these earplugs are very good noise blockers across the whole frequency range, including the lower-pitched parts of snoring.

Except for their different color, Quiet Time and Purafit are very similar (if not the same) earplugs: they have the same noise reduction rating, the same length, diameter and shape, and, as far as I can tell, also the same foam characteristics.

They are made of a relatively slow-expanding memory foam, so if you roll them into a slightly pointed torpedo-shape, they keep that shape for long enough to allow for hassle-free deep insertion.

As they expand in your ear, the noise gets reduced very effectively, which is what you want to block snoring.

Quiet Time and Purafit have a normal diameter (0.51 inches / 1.3 cm) and are a bit longer (1.06 inches / 2.7 cm) than the next earplugs in this review.

They are a bit long for my ear, so for optimal comfort I keep a little bit of the plug out of the ear canal. This also makes for easier earplug removal.

However, they are still completely contained in my ear, so they don’t bother me when I sleep on my side.

I recommend these earplugs if you have a normal-size ear canal and need maximum noise reduction.

3M 1100 Earplugs (NRR-29)

3M-1100-foam-earplugs

Best for:

  • Ideal dimensions for a normal-size ear canal
  • Comfort

Not optimal for:

  • Warm, humid climate
  • Re-insertion after removal

The 3M 1100 earplugs are one of my long-time favorites, and I still find them the most comfortable foam earplugs for sleeping.

They are almost as effective as the Quiet Time earplugs, but attenuate a little bit less at the low frequencies, which is somewhat noticeable with snoring noise.

They are also a bit shorter: for my ear canal, they seem to have the optimal length (0.98 inches / 2.5 cm) and diameter (0.55 inches / 1.4 cm). To insert them, I roll up the complete earplug and slide in the thin cylinder until it is set flush with my ear-canal opening.

When I use the 1100 earplugs in a cool and dry room, they are initially a bit stiff, which makes them easy to roll up and put in. Under body heat and moisture they become very soft and comfortable. This is great.

But if you need to remove the 3M 1100 in this soft state, they become difficult to reinsert. I usually keep a second pair at hand, to avoid having to wait for the first pair to cool down.

In a warm, humid climate, the 3M 1100 are less than ideal. They are too soft from the get-go and often expand too fast, making it difficult to insert them.

If you want to use these otherwise excellent snore blockers under these conditions, open the packaging and turn up the air conditioner in your bedroom to cool down and dehumidify the room (and thus the earplugs) before rolling up and inserting them.

This temperature-sensitivity is the main reason why I use the Flents Quiet Time and Flents Quiet Please more often than the 3M 1100 these days.

Flents Quiet Please

Flents-Quiet-Please-cylindrical-earplugs

Best for:

  • Shorter ear canals
  • Comfort

Not optimal for:

  • Long ear canals
  • Limited reusability (they wear out pretty fast)

The Quiet Please are cylindrical earplugs made out of a slightly coarser foam.

In terms of size and shape they mimic the EAR Classic, the original foam earplugs. I also find them very similar in performance, but I prefer the Flents Quiet Please because they are easier to roll into a compressed cylinder for insertion.

With a length of 0.79 inches (2 cm), they are the shortest of my favorite snore blocking earplugs. Their diameter is 0.51 inches (1.3 cm). This makes them ideal if you find most foam earplugs too long for comfort.

They block about as much snoring noise as the 3M 1100, so in terms of performance they are good.

What’s more, they are less temperature sensitive, which makes them easier to put in in a warm climate and also easier to re-insert.

I find them very comfortable, but a bit less so than the 1100 earplugs.

Due to their cylindrical shape they should work for a large variety of different-size ear canals.

Because they are short though, I have to insert them quite deep; at times this makes them difficult to remove. I remedy this by keeping my finger nails slightly longer.

3M OCS1135 Ear Soft Yellow Neons earplugs (best for small ear canals)

3M-OCS1135-Yellow-Neons-earplugs

Best for:

  • Performance
  • Small ear canals

Not optimal for:

  • Large or long ear canals

If you have a small ear canal (small diameter or/and short), I recommend the 3M OCS1135 Ear Soft Yellow Neons (312-1250).

These excellent earplugs are as comfortable and nearly as effective as the number-one ranked ranked Flents Quiet Times, but they are both significantly shorter (0.94 inches / 2.4 cm) and thinner (0.47 inches / 1.2.cm).

Unlike the 3m 1100 earplugs, the 3M 1135 are not very temperature and humidity sensitive.

They work for me and are easy to insert. But because I have to insert them really deep for them to be effective, I find them more difficult to remove.

Moldex Sparkplugs

Moldex-Sparkplugs

Best for:

  • Performance
  • Large and long ear canals

Not optimal for:

  • Normal or smaller ear canals

The Moldex Sparkplugs (6604) are very effective at blocking snoring noise, as good as my current favorites. They block a lot of noise of any kind. They are also as easy to roll up and insert.

With a length of 1.14 inches (2.9 cm) and a diameter of 0.59 inches (1.5 cm) at the tail end, the Sparkplugs are the largest earplugs in this review, and the longest ones I have ever used.

Unfortunately, they are too large (diameter) and too long for me. Consequently, when I insert them they often hurt. They seem to be poking some sensitive areas in my ear.

I can make them work by rolling only about ¾ of the earplug into a cylinder and then inserting them, but this is more of a hit or miss.

If you find other foam earplugs are getting lost in your ear canal and don’t block noise, I recommend you try Moldex Sparkplugs.

Howard Leight Max-1

Howard-Leight-Max-1-USA

Best for:

  • Ear canals with a large diameter and normal-length

Not optimal for:

  • Small ear canals

The Howard Leight Max-1 (Max USA) are bell-shaped earplugs with wide ends. At the tail end, they have the largest diameter (1.07 inches / 1.7 cm) of all earplugs in this review. At 1.02 inches (2.6 cm) they are average in length.

They are effective against snoring noise for me, but due to their shape and large diameter they exert too much pressure for my taste. I never completely forget that I am wearing them.

Additionally, I often have to insert them several times to get a good fit.

Still, these are very effective earplugs.

I recommend the Max-1 if you find other earplugs too loose, i.e., have a wider but not necessarily long ear canal.

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Snore blocking earplugs — size comparison

NameLength (inches)Length (cm)Diameter (inches)Diameter (cm)
Moldex Sparkplugs1.142.90.591.5
Flents Quiet Time and Moldex Purafit1.062.70.511.3
Howard Leight Max-11.022.60.671.7
3M 11000.982.50.551.4
3M OCS11350.942.40.471.2
Flents Quiet Please0.7920.511.3

Here is an image showing the best earplugs for snoring side by side:

Size comparison best earplugs for snoring

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Why did silicone and wax earplugs not make the rankings?

Moldable silicone and wax earplugs are very comfortable for sleeping and good at reducing moderate environmental noise, so I also tested them against snoring noise.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found any that block enough snoring noise for me to be at ease.

Moldable earplugs are designed to seal the ear canal entrance as opposed to foam earplugs which are intended to go much deeper. This makes wax and silicone earplugs more comfortable for people who can’t tolerate anything in their ear canal.

But, a shallower seal also leads to less noise reduction at the lower frequencies, and to effectively block snoring noise, you need good low frequency noise reduction.

Foam earplugs that form a deep seal in your ear are generally a lot more effective for snore blocking.

And, because they come in different shapes and sizes, you have a good chance of finding a comfortable pair that works for you.

That being said, wax and silicone earplugs are a good alternative if you are looking for general-purpose earplugs for sleeping but not necessarily snore blockers.

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How to insert your earplugs for optimal snore blocking performance?

Snoring noise includes peaks in the lower frequencies. To optimize your earplugs’ performance against these snore peaks, you need to insert them quite deep.

To get the best possible performance, I recommend this procedure:

  1. Roll the entire earplug slowly into a narrow cylinder, starting from the tip (avoid creases).
  2. Reach with your free hand over your head and pull your ear up and out to open the ear canal.
  3. Insert the earplug into your ear canal. (You can wiggle it a bit if necessary, but it should slide in without much resistance.)
  4. Keep your index finger or thumb against the end of the earplug while letting go of your ear until the earplug is fully expanded (about 40 to 60 seconds).

The following video by Elliott H. Berger is very instructive. He is an all-time hero in the world of hearing conservation and protection.

Note that he uses the original cylinder-shaped earplugs. With tapered earplugs, I still recommend that you use your index finger to keep the earplugs in place until they are fully expanded.

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What if you can’t properly insert your earplugs?

In the past, I sometimes had a hard time getting a good fit with both earplugs at the same time. It was mostly my right ear that turned out to be the “problem ear.” Now I keep a small bottle of an ear-piece insertion lubricant on my nightstand. For more on this read my post on earplug lubrication.

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How do you test the fit of your earplugs?

My preferred way for nightly use is to listen to my AC unit in high-performance mode (or my white noise machine) as a fitting noise while inserting my earplugs.

As the earplugs expand, first the higher frequencies disappear. Close to full expansion, the bass-frequencies disappear as well. If they don’t get at least significantly reduced, I know something is wrong.

I locate the problem by alternately pushing each earplug into my ear with my thumb. I remove and re-insert the culprit. If I can’t locate the problem, I remove both earplugs and re-insert them.

If you don’t have a loud AC or white noise machine, you can also play pink noise (free) at a louder volume through good speakers while fitting your earplugs.

Note: Your phone’s speaker is likely going to be too small for this test, but a medium-size Bluetooth speaker should work.

Also check my post on earplug insertion and fit-testing for more guidance on how to get the best performance out of your earplugs. The post also introduces other alternatives for fit testing.

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What is the NRR and how can it help you?

The packaging of earplugs sold in the US as a hearing protector displays a noise reduction rating (NRR). This is a single number-rating in decibels (dB) indicating how good the plugs have been in the lab (on average) at reducing noise.

Several earplugs in this review have an NRR of 33 dB, which is the highest noise reduction rating currently available. You can use the NRR to compare earplugs and estimate by how much they are going to reduce noise.

For example, the Moldex Purafit are rated 33 dB. Let’s say you have measured your partner’s snoring at 50 dB(A). The noise level reaching your ear drums would be 50-33=17 dB.

If you had been using an earplug rated 22 dB, the noise level entering the ear would have been 28 dB. That is 11 decibels more.

This may surprise you: 10 decibels more are perceived as twice as loud by the human ear, so 28 dB is about twice as loud as 17 dB.

Use the NRR as guidance but don’t dwell on it

The NRR is the average noise reduction achieved by 10 subjects who are exposed to test noises at 9 different frequencies in a lab. Generally, the earplugs are fitted by an expert, not the subjects.

Outside the lab, many people don’t achieve an optimal fit with their earplugs, so they won’t even get close to the average noise reduction achieved in lab tests.

Consequently, a properly inserted, well-fitting, comfortable NRR-29 earplug can easily be more effective against snoring noise than a poorly-fitting NRR-32 earplug.

For example, with the popular NRR-32 Howard Leight Laser Lite, I often don’t achieve a good fit even after several attempts, with the consequence that they leak noise. I get not even close to the stated NRR of 32 dB, more like 10 dB.

They do little for me against snoring. This doesn’t mean these earplugs are bad, merely that they don’t work for me.

By comparison, the NRR-29 Flents Quiet Please work for me. I can insert them with ease and they properly seal my ear.

So, despite them being rated “only” 29 dB, I achieve much better noise reduction with less frustration.

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What can you do if your roommate’s snoring is really loud?

There are no 100% snore-proof earplugs.

A very loud snorer is too much for even the best earplugs. If your roommate’s snore peaks reach 80 decibels or more, earplugs by themselves are not going to be enough.

Here is help when the snoring noise overwhelms your earplugs: Mask the snore peaks with white noise.

Imagine a snorer close to a waterfall. That waterfall would likely drown out even very loud snoring.

Play white noise through sleep headphones on top of the earplugs to drown out the snores

To get rid of loud snoring noise, wear sleep headphones on top of your earplugs and play waterfall sounds or white noise using a white noise app.

Headband headphones such as Sleephones or Cozyphones tend to work well on top of the earplugs reviewed in this post.

If you can adjust the sound pitch of the waterfall, it doesn’t even have to be very loud.

myNoise is a good white noise app for this purpose. It is available as myNoise for iOS and myNoise for Android.

With this app, you can adjust the pitch of your masking sound at ten different frequencies, so that the sound feels comfortable and you don’t have use an excessive volume for masking snores.

I have done an in-depth review of Cozyphones sleep headpones in this post.

Do you still need earplugs underneath?

Generally yes. If you have found the snoring too loud to be blocked by earplugs alone, start by reducing it by as much as possible before masking the remainder.

Without any noise isolation, you would have to listen to the masking noise itself so loud that it might keep you awake.

Have a good night and sweet dreams.


Notes:

Kent Wilson et al., “The Snoring Spectrum: Acoustic Assessment of Snoring Sound Intensity in 1,139 Individuals Undergoing Polysomnography,” CHEST Journal 115, no. 3 (1999): 762–770.

J. A. Fiz et al., “Acoustic Analysis of Snoring Sound in Patients with Simple Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea,” European Respiratory Journal 9, no. 11 (1996): 2365–2370.

 

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