Side-effects of sleeping with Earplugs

Does your partner snore? Is it not difficult for you to sleep with earplugs? Well, we know that earplugs are a boon to people living in noisy areas or working between heavy machines as it protects you from heavy noise and even helps get proper sleep. But, if not used properly, it can prove to be a bane as it can cause various ear-related problems.

There are two types of earplugs:

  • Vented: Vented earplugs have tiny holes that balance the pressure in your ear. They can be useful when flying or scuba diving. Vented are also of different types: 
    • Wax: You can mold them according to the size of your ear. You can use them while swimming and sleeping. 
    • Foam: They are soft and porous which makes them very comfortable. But they are prone to bacteria so you need to change them on a timely basis.
    • Silicone: They are hard and reusable so not good for those who sleep sideways.
  • Non-vented: These are more used during sleep as they have no vent or filter. 

If you are planning to sleep with earplugs all night, don’t do that. Over time you may get used to them and may not be able to sleep without them. While earplugs can be quite useful, you must take care as they can cause problems including discomfort and inconvenience, and in rare cases, issues such as inner ear infections, tinnitus and hearing loss. Also, improper sleep can invite a lot of health issues. (Also Read: 10 Myths around Hearing Disorder)

Risks of improper sleep

Earplugs can undoubtedly improve sleep quality as it cancels out all the excess noise around you. Good sleep is a must as it plays an important role in maintaining a healthy mind and body. According to recent research by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, sleep plays an important role in removing toxins that build up when you are awake.

A low quality sleep can increase the risk of various problems such as:

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

Low quality sleep can also reduce the function of the immune system. Therefore, it can be said that if used properly, earplugs can prove to be far more important for the body than just a good night sleep.

Side Effects

Earplugs are harmful only when proper precautions are not taken while usage. Here are some of the side-effects listed below:

  1. Earplugs, if not changed regularly, can cause ear infections.
  2. Earplugs, if pushed too hard into the ears, can push the ear wax deeper inside the ear which might cause hearing loss.
  3. If used for a long time, a person might become dependent on earplugs for sound sleep and then he/she might not be able to sleep without them.
  4. Noise cancellation might cause problems in case of emergencies as a person might not be able to hear alarms.
  5. While sleeping tilted to one side, earplugs may cause discomfort and pain in the ears.

Directions of usage

Following precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of any side effects of earplugs:

  • Clean your ears before inserting earplugs inside them.
  • Push the earplugs just enough to block the noise. If pushed hard enough, it could affect the lining of the eardrums.
  • Change the earplugs regularly if you are using foam earplugs.
  • Remove the earplugs gently, slowly and in a twisting motion. If not removed carefully, earplugs might cause damage to the eardrums. 

What are the alternatives to sleeping with earplugs?

There are things that you can do to block the noise that affects your sleep:

  • You can wear a comfortable pair of headphones that are worn externally. There are no chances of bacterial growth that can affect the ear. 
  • Using white noise machines can also be helpful. They generate various sounds that help you sleep such as waterfalls, ocean waves. 
  • This may sound weird but turn on the fan. A fan helps swaddle the sound that you want to avoid. 


Earplugs reduce the sleeping problems to a great extent but there are too many risks and precautions involved. Moreover, many substitutes for earplugs are available in the current market for good sleep such as noise cancellation headphones. These headphones remove extra noise and are also worn externally. Therefore, risks involved are less. Many apps have been introduced in the app stores for a better sleep which can provide a calming and soothing sound such as rain, wind, waterfalls that could help you sleep better at night. Sleep headphones have also been introduced. These headphones look like hairbands with soft speakers installed inside that can help in noise cancellation.

If all these are still not good enough for a good sleep then you can get a customized pair of earplugs that are designed to fit your ears.

Also Read: Know the Do’s and Don’ts to Clean your Ears

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