In 2013, a survey for National Sleep Day estimated that a whopping 74% of adults slept on their side (!!!) compared to only 16% on their stomach and 10% on their backs. The study went on to suggest that the vast majority of sleepers “sleep on their side, in pyjamas, between 10 and 11pm at night”. Does this sound like you?
It’s funny then that many sleep ear plugs are not optimised for sleeping on your side. In fact, many customers send us emails reporting that the thick earplugs they bought from the chemist cause irritation or discomfort, so it’s back to nights of snoring partners and rattling windows. A few simple reasons why earplugs aren’t always perfect for side sleepers:
- When you sleep on the side, the pressure from your head can weigh down on the mass of the earplug, resulting in an ordinarily soft and comfortable plug becoming a little discomforting.
- The pressure from the side of the head can change the shape of the ear plug. Think about when you squash a can, suddenly it’s a little thicker at the base than normal, another source of discomfort.
- The friction of the side of the head against the pillow can dislodge the plug, resulting in a poor seal.
Thankfully, more and more manufacturers are designing earplugs with side sleepers in mind. Signs you have a side-sleeper optimised plug include:
- Malleable material: it should shift with your bodyweight and not feel irritating even when you lean into it.
- Light and comfortable: a side-sleeper plug is a light plug, it shouldn’t weigh down on you at all when your head is tilted.
- Strong seal: the friction between the ear and the pillow can dislodge a plug, meaning that side sleeper plugs should be naturally adherent or provide an otherwise strong seal.
If you are someone who sleeps on their side, you should be purchasing a plug optimised for side-sleeping. Check out our top three side sleeping ear plug solutions below:
$9.95. Available in packs of six, twelve and twenty-four pairs.
Unique benefit for side-sleepers: malleable silicone will re-shape according to pressure, meaning it will adjust with your head’s weight during the course of the night.
The Silicone Putty is our first port of call for all people looking to sleep, whether they sleep on their side, back, or front. The reason for this is that the malleable silicone is ultra comfortable and soft. It does a good job of sealing all ear shapes and sizes and dampens a solid 23 decibels of noise, enough for most sleepers to get a great rest in even noisy environments. For side-sleepers, the gentle silicone will not scratch or itch into your ear, even with friction against your pillow. Better still, the malleable silicone re-shapes with heat and pressure, meaning it will gently adjust with the head pressure that comes from sleeping on your side. If you find that your pillow does a good enough job dampening the sound for one ear, you can just wear your silicone putty over the ear that faces up when you sleep — an economical choice that makes sure every package of ear plugs lasts twice as long.
$12.95. Available in packs of six, twelve, and twenty-four pairs.
Unique benefit for side-sleepers: cotton and lanolin earplugs soften when warmed in your hands, creating a perfect seal every time you fit them, with additional softness even under pressure.
While most people think earplugs are either foam or silicone, there’s a third choice: cotton-lanolin. The major advantage here is that it’s all natural, superior from an environmental perspective, and very very soft. The Earjobs Comfy Wax is a great foam alternative for side-sleepers because, unlike foam, you can form and reshape the plugs with the warmth of your hands. Like the Silicone Putty, you’re now able to avoid a situation where the rigid body of the foam plug causes undue pressure when you sleep on your side, causing discomfort. Instead, the comfy wax creates a unique and effective seal for all ear shapes, even small or large ear canals, and will hold its seal all night long. Cotton-lanolin is hypoallergenic, effective for individuals who are irritated by other plug materials, and blocks out about 23 decibels.
$32.95. Comes with free carry case.
Unique benefit for side-sleepers: Unlike many reusable plugs, ultra-soft filters are flexible and designed with side-sleepers in mind. No more jabbing pains from a rigid earplug stabbing your ear.
If you prefer a reusable ear plug, there’s no better solution for side sleepers than the Alpine SleepSoft. In contrast to many reusable plugs, the Alpine’s body and tips have a slight flex or ‘give’ to them, making it a little more pliant particularly when you’re laying on top of it. This side-steps the number one complaint we hear from side-sleepers: that their chemist-bought plugs jam into the side of their heads. Instead, the flexible thermo-grip material will gently conform to the shape of the ear, accommodating shifts as you toss and turn at night. The SleepSoft has an average blocking of 25 decibels, making it on the stronger side of sleep plugs. The unique acoustic filters do allow alarms or doorbells to be heard, making them a great in-between solution for individuals who want to sleep deeply, but not through their alarm. As an added benefit, the hypoallergenic thermo-fit material contains no silicone, making it an ideal solution for individuals with the most sensitive skin. They’re reusable and cleanable with Alpine’s cleaning solution.
The most important thing with any ear plug is that your noise-blocking solution doesn’t create new challenges and discomforts when it’s time to go to bed. In short, if you’re a side sleeper, look for something flexible and soft. Our recommendation? Start with a simple silicone plug and go from there. These are just three ideas, you can check out the rest of our sleep range here. Or, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can give some specific advice.