Whether it’s blocking out a snoring partner, a car alarm or your neighbors party, earplugs can be the difference between dozing off and a sleepless night.
But one of the most commonly made mistakes when using earplugs is inserting them incorrectly. A proper fitting earplug is essential to blocking out sound. And if your earplug doesn’t fit then you might as well not wear any all.
It may seem simple, but many people actually complain about earplugs not working properly when in fact – it is their insertion technique that is the problem.
This guide will provide detailed step-by-step instructions on how to fit an earplug into your ear, so that you can sleep comfortably and soundly at night.
It’s easy to learn. You can do it in 5 Simple Steps!
Step 1 – Choose your weapon!
Grab your ear plug. If you are having trouble finding the right earplugs to sleep in then check out our detailed review for some killer recommendations.
The next thing to do is to identify which end of the ear plug is going to go in your ears. For most ear plugs, it’s the rounded end.
Step 2 – Get Rolling
Next you grab the end of the earplug you are gong to insert into your ears and roll it.
The easiest way to do this is to gently pinch the tip and roll the earplug between your forefinger (the one you point with) and thumb.
Roll the earplug slowly while gently applying more and more pressure until the tip compresses down to a narrow width, small enough that it will easily slide inside your ears.
It may seem simple but if this is your first attempt at wearing earplugs then you may have to practice your technique.
Important: The compressed tip should be smooth and crease free. If there are folds or large wrinkles, the earplug will not expand evenly which may prevent the earplug from forming a sound-proof seal.
Step 3 – Pull your ear
Here is the step that most people miss. And it can make all the difference as to whether or not your earplugs will fit your ear.
Reach around your head with your free hand and gently pull on the top of the ear. By pulling up and slightly out, you will open your ear canal up, making inserting the ear plug a much simply task.
Step 4 – Insert!
With the tip of the ear plug still pinched it’s time to insert it into your ear with your free hand. The following should be done in one quick motion, before the earplug expands back to it’s original shape.
Insert the ear plug deep into your ear canal with a slight twist. The rolled up ear plug should slide straight in.
Step 5 – Hold it!
With the ear plug pushed into your ear, you now want to gently hold the ear plug in place until the foam has completely expanded.
How long you will need to do this will entirely depend on your brand of ear plugs. Typically it takes 30-40 seconds. This is an important step that stops the earplug from pushing it’s way out of your ear as it expands, resulting in a tight fit.
If you want the exact amount of time you can always compress your ear plug between your finger and time how long it takes to return to it’s original shape.
And that’s really all there is to it. The only thing left to do is repeat the process on your other ear.
How to Identify If Your Ear Plugs Fit Correctly
As I touched on earlier in the guide, if an earplug doesn’t fit correctly then it won’t block out any sound. And that means another sleepless night.
Fortunately, checking that your earplugs are correctly fitted can be as simple as glancing in the mirror.
1. Visually checking your ear plugs fit correctly
When you glance in the mirror your earplugs should be virtually invisible to anyone looking at you from the front. Ear plugs that are visible from the front may be a good indication that your earplug is not fitted properly.
Above is how you can see the ear plugs correctly inserted in my ears. While it may look like they poke out at this angle, you cannot see them from the front.
And below you can see how the ear plugs look if they are not properly fitted. While they ‘feel’ like they are properly inserted, they still let sound in.
But because ears come in all shapes and sizes, some people may find that there ear plugs stick out a little further than others. So to confirm that your ear plug is not fitted correctly there is one other step to take:
2. Check the Acoustics
To check your earplug is correctly fitted you can simply cup your hands firmly over the ears then remove them. You only have to hold your hands there for a few seconds.
Your earplugs should be blocking enough noise so that covering your ears with your hands doesn’t change the amount of noise blocked.
If you find that the sound decreases when you cup your hands then your ear plugs are not fitted properly, and are letting sound past.
If your ear plugs are not fitted properly simply repeat the instructions laid out above. It may take some practice but before long you will be able to comfortably and effectively insert your earplugs. Even in bed with the lights off.
How To Deal With Ear Plugs That Are Too Big
If you were to work on a construction site you can leave the guide here. But ear plugs that stick out just that little too big are no good for sleeping.
If the earplug sticks out past your ear it can catch on your pillow as you toss and turn throughout the night. If this happens your earplugs may fall out of your ears while you sleep. And if that happens then any outside noise is free to wake you up.
While you can buy shorter earplugs for small ears, I am going to show you the trick I use to make earplugs fit my petite ears.
All you need is your earplugs and a pair of scissors.
All that’s left to do is to snip the earplugs at the point where the ends stick out of your ears.
While you can also use a sharp knife, I found that using scissors left my the ends of my earplugs with the smoothest finish.
Once you have cut through the earplug you will have to wait for some time for the earplug to expand to it’s original shape. Mine take a couple of minutes.
Now repeat with the other earplug and stick ‘em in your ears. And just like that you have an earplug that will no longer catch on your pillow.
Because the earplugs are made from a soft foam, cutting them does not result in tearing or fraying. And they block off just as much noise too.
If your current earplugs are falling out while you sleep I recommend giving this a go!
How do you ensure you get the proper fit with your earplugs? Let me know in the comments below!