Did you know that as many as 40 percent of Americans say that they don’t get enough sleep? This statistic from Gallup may not surprise those who already know they could use more sleep. What may be surprising are the latest findings on just how much a lack of sleep affects our health and well-being.
Many people are now taking steps to make quality sleep a priority by limiting screen time, scheduling in extra sleep time, practicing meditation as part of a nightly sleep routine and even using earplugs to limit outside noise. For those using or thinking of using earplugs, though, there may be more to consider.
Types of earplugs
If you’re looking for a way to block out the noise while you sleep, whether that noise is from a busy street, your family of night owls or a partner’s snoring, sleep earplugs can be a great choice. But where do you get started? Sleep earplugs come in many different styles, including:
- Custom sleep earplugs – Created by your hearing healthcare professional using an earmold impression, these are personalized just for you and your ear for maximum noise-blocking effectiveness.
- Moldable earplugs – Made of wax or silicone, these earplugs mold themselves to the ear.
- Disposable sleep earplugs. These foam earplugs are soft to insert into the ear canal easily. They can be used once or twice before being discarded.
Work with your hearing healthcare provider to select the best option for you and your needs.
While more than one study has shown that using earplugs can help improve the quality of sleep for many people, it’s important to be aware that earplugs may come with side effects. These side effects include:
- Earwax build-up – When earplugs are inserted into the ear they not only block soundwaves from coming in, they also prevent earwax from flowing out. They can even push earwax back into the ear canal. Over time, this can create a build-up which may cause discomfort, dizziness, ringing in the ears or even hearing loss.
- Ear infections – in some cases, bacteria are transferred from the earplug into the ear or finds its way in and sets up shop in the built-up earwax. This bacteria can turn into an ear infection.
When using earplugs to sleep, follow recommendations for use (disposable) and maintenance (reusable) to ensure a safe experience. If you believe you have earwax build-up, speak to your hearing healthcare provider for recommendations to resolve it.
Smart sleep habits
In addition to using earplugs, practicing healthy sleep habits can help improve the quality and amount of sleep that you get. Create a bedtime routine that includes turning off all electronics such as televisions, phones, reading tablets at least one hour before bed. If using a reading tablet, consider blue-light blocking glasses. Avoid eating before bed, and try relaxing activities such as meditation to ease into sleep.
If you have questions about earplugs and the best choice of sleep earplugs for you, contact our office to learn more.