Sleeping with Earplugs Side Effects – Benefits and Risks

Many people have difficulty sleeping at night because they might be very light sleepers, they have a spouse who snores, have noisy neighbors, who get easily irritated by loud noises, or they live near a busy street.

Not getting enough and peaceful sleep might have a negative effect on the overall mental and physical health of the individual.

Out of many ways, one way to get a peaceful sleep is by using earplugs. Nowadays earplugs are a popular and useful method for blocking or lowering incoming noise coming to our ear. 

These can also protect our ears from the dangerous sound environment such as rock concerts or heavy machinery.

Although many people find it useful wearing earplugs when they go to sleep, there are still various concerns over the safety of these earplugs.

Some questions which might encounter you:

  • is it safe to sleep with earplugs?
  • can earplugs cause ear infections?
  • can earplugs damage your ears?
  • What is sleeping with earplugs side effects?

In this article, we are going to answer all these questions as well will discuss the benefits of earplugs, how to use them, their limitations and all related facts.

Benefits Of Sleeping With Earplugs

Wearing earplugs while sleeping may significantly increase the quality of sleep and many people also find this as the only way to prevent annoying sounds, but it may also have some drawbacks which we shall read about in this article.

As we already know, there are many problems that are associated with sleep disturbances, or in cases where there is a complete lack of sleep.

Some common risks that are involved in poor quality sleep include:

  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Strokes

It is often seen that poor sleep is also linked to inflammation and reduced immune system, both of which have a negative impact on the person’s health.

But good sleep can provide you with many benefits that can improve both your physical and mental health.

Benefits of good sleep include:

  • Improvement In Memory And Concentration Ability
  • Reinforce Your Immune System
  • Helps In Preventing Diabetes
  • Beneficial For Your Heart
  • Prevents From Gaining Weight

Here are some side effects from missing sleep:

Here are some side effects from missing sleep:

Given the importance of sleep for an individual’s health, earplugs can also offer benefits that go far beyond just getting a good night’s sleep.

Earplugs are considered safe as a means of protecting your ears from unwanted sounds and noises and helps you in getting a sound sleep.

But there might be some risk factors too of using earplugs that you should keep in mind.

Risks Of Sleeping With Earplugs

Inappropriate use of earplugs can lead to discomfort and inconvenience and in some rare cases, it can also lead to issues like Inner ear infection, Tinnitus, and even Hearing loss. Some risks include:

  • Impacted Ear Wax – Earwax is something that protects our eardrum from dust particles, foreign body’s which can enter in our ear canal. This ear wax drains from your ears on a daily basis mostly in the night when we fall asleep. If you wear earplugs for a longer period of time, this can interrupt the natural process of earwax drainage causing earwax blockage in your ear. This can also lead you to tinnitus or temporary hearing loss.
  • Ear Infections – If earwax is not draining properly and creates a blockage in your ear, it can lead to an ear infection. Also, if you are not cleaning your earplugs regularly then bacteria can grow on them. Foam earplugs are specifically prone to bacteria.
  • Muffled Hearing – It’s prudent to test your ability to hear devices while wearing your earplugs for your safety. Devices like a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector alarm or alarm clock.
  • Pushing The Ear Plug Too Deep – Earplugs are designed small or tiny to fit into your ear. But it should not be inserted too deep in the ear canal that it’s become impossible to take it out.
  • Removing Earplugs Too Fast – If you remove your earplug too fast or too quickly, there is a high chance that you can damage your eardrum. Remove your earplugs gently and slowly with a twisting motion which makes it easier to come out without doing any harm to the ear.

Let’s discuss some terms to use earplugs properly and safely.

How To Sleep Safely With Earplugs?

From the above risk factors, it may sound like sleeping with earplugs is a bad idea but it is not.  However, if you take proper care of your earplugs and using them with precautions, there is no harm. Here are some do and don’t which you must follow.

How To Sleep Safely With Earplugs

Get in mind that earplugs are not the only way to get a sound sleep. And if you are not sleeping with earplug on some nights, you should be fine.

If you need them every night while sleeping, you should not use anything in your ears like other kinds of earplugs or music earplugs during day time. This will probably give the resting time to your ears that they need to drain and stay healthy.

Choose appropriate earplugs according to your ear and take proper care of it. After using them, clean them thoroughly. Cleaning them removes any wax particles that get attached to it. It also reduces the chance of getting an ear infection.

In short, choose the right earplugs, use earplugs when necessary, clean them properly with Luke warm water and soap or with cleaning kit because if your earplugs are hygienic they will provide hygiene to your ears too.

Choosing The Right Earplugs

In order to get a peaceful sleep, you will need the right kind of earplugs. Earplugs usually come in different forms and sizes. Also, there are earplugs that are vented or non-vented, which means that they may or may not provide an air passage.

Vented earplugs have a small hole that helps in equalizing pressure in the ear. These are useful during flying, but may not be a good option when using them for sleeping.

Some people may feel uncomfortable with other earplugs, such as disposable foam earplugs when sleeping. This is because the feel of the foam may have an uneasy effect on some individuals. There are earplugs made of wax and silicone which can be used in place of disposable foam earplugs.

Choosing The Right Earplugs

Various studies have shown that the benefits of using sleeping aids such as earplugs improved sleep in individuals. Another benefit is that individuals do not have to regularly depend on medications like sleeping pills, etc., in order to get proper sleep.

But, like with anything you wear while sleeping, comfort is important. So, it’s important to use earplugs correctly when sleeping.

How to Use Earplugs?

Using earplugs correctly and in a proper manner can reduce the risk of having any side effects. Following are the steps to safely use any earplugs:

  • With clean hands, roll the earplug till it’s narrow enough to fit in the ear.
  • Pull the ear lobe or pinna from your head.
  • Insert the earplug just deep enough to block sound. Don’t push it too deep that even you got the problem in taking it out.
  • If you are using disposable foam earplugs, you should roll the foam plug into a thin, cylinder-shaped and then insert it in your ear, holding it in place until it expands so that it doesn’t fall off when you are sleeping and does not make you feel uncomfortable.

Watch the video below to know the process of inserting a foam earplug into ear:

However, if you can’t put it in without feeling of discomfort or it comes out with dark wax over the end, or if you feel there is a build-up of pressure in the ear, then it is advised that you seek a doctor.


Having a peaceful and good night sleep is important. If you are using disposable foam earplugs, it is always a good idea to discard the earplugs once they start to discolor or wear out. As wax builds up on the surface, earplugs become sticky and may also have the risk of transferring bacteria from your fingers to your ears.

Also, avoid putting saliva on the earplugs, which is done to lubricate the surface so that they can easily fit inside the ears. Doing this can increase the risk of developing an infection in the ear canal which can cause inflammation and affect your hearing.

Earplugs are a solution to reduce noise but be alert of potential risks to hearing health. If you are putting earplugs properly and not experiencing any type of discomfort, then you should be able to sleep peacefully.

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