After the first silicone earplugs were invented in 1962, these fantastic tools have been protecting ears from damage for over 50 years. Useful in more environments than you can imagine, earplugs are used across the world during rock concerts, military combat, the industrial workplace, and much more. But what if these tiny plugs could get you a better nights sleep? Earplugs aren’t always used for loud and damaging noises, but any sound that may just be distracting or unproductive. Does your bedroom face a busy street? Do noisy neighbors have dance parties late into the night? Protecting your ears from loud volume damage is important, but blocking out those quiet and inopportune sounds may just earn you that well-deserved full night of sleep. With obvious health bonuses to getting proper amounts of sleep, using earplugs for a full eight hours may just be right for you.
Though earplugs are generally safe, minor things may occur during repeated uses, especially if worn every night to sleep. Down below, we’ll break down the risks that you need to know when deciding whether earplugs are right for your sleep habits.
Over time, earplugs may push ear wax further into the ear canal, causing excessive buildup. Ear wax buildup is responsible for hearing-related complications such as tinnitus or temporary hearing loss. To prevent this, ensure that your earplugs are consistently cleaned before use and attempt to give your ears a break every once in a while. If buildup does occur, consider using ear drops to soften the wax or having it removed by a medical professional.
Though wax buildup can be the cause of these ear infections, bacteria growing on the earplugs can create infections that are often painful and can also result in hearing loss. To combat ear infections, ensuring your earplugs are clean before each use is crucial to protecting your hearing health at night, similarly to combating wax buildup.
Very few things are as important as a good night’s sleep, as exhaustion can lead to irritability, depression, and even fatal consequences. With stakes this high, the science community has rallied behind sleep research, with studies indicating that earplugs are a safe and cost-effective way to improve your quality of sleep. Earplugs have been shown to increase REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, the deepest sleep that supports processes such as memory consolidation. Though many forms of sleep medication exist, side-effects that may cause distress or difficulty can occur, making earplugs the safest and simplest way to get a good night’s sleep.
Wearing earplugs to sleep is not required for a good night’s sleep, but it may help block out the noisy traffic jam outside your window. The choice is one of personal preference, as not all sleepers are the same. Pure silence may be what helps you drift off to dreamland, while others fall asleep faster with sounds from a calming rainforest or even white noise.