How to Sleep With Ear Plugs

If your spouse snores or you don't feel like getting up at four o'clock every morning with the neighborhood birds, overnight earplugs can help create a peaceful sleep environment. But earplugs are not without their hazards. Push them too far into your ear canal and they may result in impacted earwax, which normally acts as your ears' natural cleaning mechanism. According to, regular earplug use can contribute to swelling and local skin or ear canal infections. If you must wear earplugs overnight on a consistent basis, purchase custom-molded earplugs made of rubber or plastic.

A man is wearing disposable ear plugs. Credit: Robert Byron/Hemera/Getty Images

Step 1

Wash your hands before inserting the earplugs. This helps reduce your risk of developing an ear infection.

Step 2

Rub the earplugs between your thumb and forefinger several times to soften them. This isn't necessary for custom-fitted earplugs or ones that can't be molded. Reach behind your head with your right hand and grasp the top of your left ear.

Step 3

Pull straight up, gently, on your left ear. Insert the earplug, rounded or tapered end first, into your ear canal until it blocks out most sound. Hold the earplug gently in place as it expands, then release both the earplug and your ear. Repeat on the opposite side.

Step 4

Remove the earplugs in the morning, then wash them in a bowl of warm water and dish soap. Rinse the earplugs well and allow them to air-dry thoroughly before using them again.

Things You'll Need

  • Small bowl

  • Warm water

  • Dish soap


Test your fire alarm and carbon monoxide detector, with the earplugs in, to make sure you can still hear the emergency alarms. If the earplugs block out emergency alarms, you can’t sleep in them safely. Consider alternative noise-reducing measures, such as soundproof headphones or a white noise machine.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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