Is Sleeping with Earplugs Safe?

Sleep is a VERY important part of your life! A good night’s sleep is the key to a fast metabolism, balanced hormones, a controlled appetite, and sufficient energy to get through your day.

But what if you live in a noisy area? The sounds of traffic, people, and animals can interrupt your sleep, making it impossible to rest the whole night through. You can only put so many pillows over your head. A loud neighborhood can take its toll on your health!

Thankfully, there is a simple solution to the problem: earplugs.

We’ve all seen earplugs: little wax or silicone devices that you insert into your ears. The earplugs not only block out noise, but they can protect your eardrums from foreign objects and excessively loud noises.

A whole lot of people use ear-plugs at work:

  • Machinists/industrial workers
  • Roadies/security guards/bouncers
  • Soldiers
  • Swimmers

All of these people wear earplugs to protect their sensitive eardrums from damage by water, loud sounds, and foreign objects.

But now we come to the big question:

Is sleeping with earplugs safe? Is it bad to sleep with earplugs, or can you snooze the whole night through without worrying? Are there downsides to wearing earplugs to sleep? Can ear plugs cause ear infections or other health problems?

By the time you reach the end of this page, you’ll know everything there is to know about the pros and cons of sleeping with earplugs!

The 64-Dollar Question: Are Earplugs Safe for Sleeping?

Earplugs are designed to be worn in the ears for long periods of time, which is why they’re made of soft silicone or wax. For daily applications (protecting your ears while working or swimming), they are as safe as it gets.

Now the big question: are earplugs safe not just for daily use, but for sleeping specifically?

The answer is “Yes, but…..”

If used correctly, earplugs are a perfectly safe solution for blocking out noise as you sleep. They can be a bit uncomfortable at first, but once you get used to having them in your ears, you’ll find they’re no more bothersome than a sleep mask. Plus, they’ll block out all the ambient sounds around you (vehicles, talking people, barking dogs, etc.). The result: a good night’s sleep.

However, you do need to realize that there are a few risks of sleeping with your earplugs in. If you’re not careful, you could end up damaging the delicate mechanisms of your ear. Definitely not the result you want!

What Are the Risks of Sleeping With Earplugs?

Incorrect use of earplugs (in any situation) can lead to injuries and damage to your ear canal. The severity of the injury can range from minor to very serious. Understanding this will ensure that you know the risks of sleeping with earplugs.

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Here are a few of the potential dangers you need to be aware of:

Removing Earplugs Too Fast

This may sound silly, but the truth is that pulling out your earplugs too quickly can cause damage to your inner ear. The earplugs are designed to create a sort of suction” with your ear canal. This prevents the plug from falling out and blocks out all the noise.

But, if you pull out the plugs too fast, the suction can pull on your eardrum, potentially rupturing the fragile membrane. A ruptured eardrum can cause pain, hearing loss, and susceptibility to ear infections.

The simple solution: pull the earplug out slowly, and twist as you pull. This will break the suction and remove the earplug without injury.

Pushing Earplugs Too Far

If you sleep on your side, the weight of your head presses down on the earplug. This increases the chance of shoving the earplug deep into your ear canal. If the plug goes in too deep, it may press on the eardrum. Too much pressure and you could rupture the membrane.

How can you know if it’s in too far? Simple:

  • There is pain or excess pressure.

A twinge of pain or a feeling of pressure on your ear is an indication that the plug is pressing on your eardrum or some other sensitive part of your ear.

  • You can’t pull it out with your fingers. 

You should always be able to pull out the earplug with your fingers. If you have to dig for it with a pair of tweezers, it’s in too far.

The problem is how to stop the earplugs from getting pushed too deep into your head while you sleep. Changing up your sleep position (sleeping on your back) can prevent the problem. Or, get a pair of earplugs large enough that they won’t be pushed too deep into your ears.

Ear Infections

Your ears are, by nature, pretty dirty things. Ear wax, dirt, debris, dust, and bugs are just a few of the things you can find in your ears.

There are two ways that earplugs can cause infections:

  • It traps ear wax.

Your ears are self-cleaning, but earplugs essentially blocks the wax from falling out from your ears naturally. Excessive wax buildup can lead to ear infections, thanks to the bacteria present in the ear wax.

  • It inserts bacteria.

There are so many ways to get bacteria on your earplugs: touching them with dirty hands, putting them on the bed, even exposing them to the air. The bacteria on your earplugs will then be inserted into your ear, where they will stay for hours every night. It’s just an ear infection waiting to happen!

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The solution to this problem: keep your earplugs clean! (See below for advice on how to clean earplugs…)

Impaired Hearing

The whole point of wearing the earplugs is to block out the noise around you, but this can be a bad thing. You may not hear it if your smoke detector beeps, your alarm clock goes off, or someone breaks into your home.

It’s a harsh truth, but you need to hear it: you are putting your personal safety and security at risk by wearing earplugs.

Impacted Ear Wax

The ear is designed to clean itself, and its shape allows wax to be carried outward like a conveyor belt and ultimately fall out from the ear canal. But when you wear earplugs, you prevent the wax from falling out naturally due to the earplugs acting as a “stopper”.

This can lead to an excess buildup of wax, which you then push deeper into your ear canal when you insert the earplugs. Over time, this can cause blockages or impacted ear wax.

The solution: the Oto-Tip! This soft-tipped ear cleaning device is designed to be safe and easy to use. It will clean out excess ear wax, preventing a buildup that could cause ear infections and impacted ear wax. It’s a user-friendly solution that will eliminate excess ear wax!

You asked, “Is it bad to sleep with earplugs?” The answer: it can be if you’re not careful. Thankfully, in the following section, we’ll teach you how to use earplugs safely!

How to Minimize the Risk of Sleeping With Earplugs

If you really want to minimize the risks of using earplugs, it’s a good idea to avoid them altogether. Instead of blocking out ambient sounds, use a white noise machine to drown them out. “White noise” refers to soothing sounds like falling rain, the crash of waves, or a low crackling. The noise desensitizes your ears to other ambient sounds, making it easier to sleep through the night.

However, for those who MUST use ear-plugs to sleep, here are a few tips to help minimize the risk of using earplugs overnight:

Use them occasionally

Using earplugs every night increases your risk of ear infections and injuries. Try to use them as infrequently as possible – only on the nights when things are very noisy outside.

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Keep the earplugs clean

Wash them with mild soap and warm water, and pat them dry with a clean towel. Store them in a case. Only take them out when you are going to use them.

Keep your ears clean and dry

Never insert earplugs into wet ears, as that will trap water in the ear canal and increase your risk of infection. Clean your ears (using the Oto-Tip) to prevent excess wax buildup.

Be aware

This may be easier said than done, but it’s important to be aware of your earplugs at night. If you feel pain in your ears, wake up and remove the ear plugs. Avoid pushing them deeper into your ears, and be safe when using them.

The truth is that sleeping with earplugs can be the best thing for your night’s sleep! You can block out ambient noise that would wake you, promoting a good night of rest.

However, it’s vital that you are careful with your use of earplugs and aware of the dangers. By understanding that there is a risk of injury, you can take steps to protect your ears when using earplugs for better sleep.

6 thoughts on “Is Sleeping with Earplugs Safe?

  • This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks!

  • So if your house is noisy and you get woken up due to noise literally every night, my takeaway from this is “no, earplugs are not a solution”.

  • I have slept with ear plugs for 6 years now. My youngest child had his crib in our room. I woke up constantly with every move he made so tried ear plugs. I could still hear him cry, etc but I couldn’t hear the mattress every time he moved. Now I can’t go a night without them, my husband tells me I will damage my ears but can’t sleep without them now, everything is sooo noisy. Any suggestions to train my body to sleep without them?

  • I have a child who is on the autism spectrum and is sensitive to any noise usually he wears ear defenders to help but recently he’s been using them at night. Would earplugs be better?

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