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The best earplugs for sleeping when traveling

I’m a light sleeper.

When traveling, unfamiliar hotel or other noise prevents me from falling asleep, and the slightest sound wakes me up.

For years, I’ve used earplugs to sleep – which help big-time to block out the world.

And then my pharmacist introduced me to a new brand. I think they’re absolutely the best earplugs for sleeping!

So I thought you might want to know about them too.

Best earplugs for sleeping when traveling
I need good earplugs to sleep like this in unfamiliar hotel rooms or cruise ship staterooms!

Now I know this isn’t the coolest travel topic.

Certainly not as exciting as, say, cruising the Canary Islands in spoil-me-silly luxury or going naked in a co-ed Baden-Baden spa.

But if you’re a light sleeper like me and have trouble sleeping through noise, you’ll be happy to read this.

Best earplugs for sleeping

Until I switched to the new earplugs, I used foam earplugs. You no doubt know them. They did the trick, for a while…

Then I learned there are different types of earplugs for sleeping. Some are better than others (like the ones I’m going to tell you about in just a sec.)

Noise reduction rating

Earplugs are usually rated according to the amount of noise blocked out.

The noise reduction rating (NRR) indicates the level of sound that earplugs blog out.

Sample NRR levels:

  • Speaking quietly – about 20 decibels
  • Normal speech – 50 to 60 decibles
  • Alarm clock – 70 to 80 decibles
  • Lawn mower – 90 decibles
  • Loud rock music – 110 to 120 decibles

The higher the noise reduction rating for earplugs, the more sound that is blocked. The highest NRR earplugs are rated about 33.

Foam earplugs for sleeping

Foam earplugs for sleeping
These generic foam earplugs look familiar, right?

Foam plugs are the most popular ear plugs.

Typically yellow, white or beige in color, they’re perhaps a half-inch long and shaped like a cylinder. They are inexpensive, usually come in bulk packages and are designed to be thrown away after one or two uses.

Foam ear plugs block out 20 to 30 decibles of sound, i.e., they have a NRR of 20 to 30.

If you like foam ear plugs (and they don’t bother you), the slightly-tapered Mack’s earplugs get top reviews, with more than 1,800 five-star reviews on Amazon.

(Pssst! As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.)

Mack's soft earplugs

The problem for me is that the foam earplugs recently started to irritate my ears. (Not the Mack’s variety; I was using a generic brand.)

When I talked to my pharmacist about how they were making my ears itchy and sore, he told me the foam material can cause irritation (even eczema) in some people, and that I should switch to a silicone or wax variety.

Silicone earplugs

So I bought some bright green silicone plugs, and I tried these silicone earplugs for sleeping.

In the package, silicone earplugs look like thick Canadian dimes (at least the ones I bought), and they’re intended to be warmed up in your fingers and molded to fit just onto the outside of your ear canal.

I didn’t really like them, however. They felt a little greasy, and my hair would get stuck to them.

I don't look nearly as cute when I don't sleep! Just ask George; I'm very cranky and miserable to be around...
I don’t look nearly as cute when I don’t sleep! Just ask George; I’m very cranky and miserable to be around…

Wax earplugs for sleeping

Back to the pharmacist I went. He consulted with another more senior pharmacist.

The senior grey-haired pharmacist told a story about how “the missus” had to go to emergency in hospital because she accidentally poked one of the foam earplugs so deep into her ear, she couldn’t get it out.

Me: “So what do you suggest?”

Grey-haired pharmacist: “Try the Ohropax ear plugs. That’s what she uses now.

Me:  “How good are these earplugs for sleeping?”

Grey-haired pharmacist:  “She doesn’t hear me snoring!

Ohropax Classic – good ear plugs!

Ohropax earplugs are the best earplugs for sleeping.
I find these Ohropax earplugs to be the best earplugs for sleep and travel (Credit: Ohropax)

Long story short…

I tried the Ohropax earplugs to sleep – and was impressed!

More than 100 years ago, a pharmacist in Berlin (Maximilian Negwer) set about creating these soft earplugs.

And I love this: The slogan was “Luxury for the Ears.”

Well, good ol’ Max was onto something, because the German manufacturers just keep on making them.

The Ohropax Classic earplugs are made of cotton wool combined with petroleum jelly and paraffin waxes.

When you take them out of the case, you have to remove the outside protective cotton wool from the ear plugs before using them. They have a NRR of 23.

What I like about these Ohropax wax earplugs is that they’re not greasy feeling at all (like the silicone ear plugs.)

They’re easy to mold to fit your ears. They also look friendly – a soft pink color. And they’re reusable too.

Bottom line? Best earplugs to sleep

Sleeping like a baby
If I wear earplugs, I have a better chance of sleeping like this when traveling :-).

The Ohropax earplugs are very comfortable earplugs for sleeping.

So there you have it! If you try the Ohropax Classic earplugs, I’d be interested to know how you like them.

And don’t forget to pack your earplugs with your carry-on essentials when you fly. You’ll need them to get some sleep on the plane…

Get the Ohropax earplugs on Amazon: See here.


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Best earplugs for sleeping

About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!