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Is Sleeping With Earplugs Dangerous?

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There are many reasons people decide to sleep in earplugs, a snoring spouse, noisy road or even chirping birds can disturb sleep. If you're missing out on your precious zzz's because of noise you're probably wondering if sleeping with earplugs safe. Let's find out, Is Sleeping With Earplugs Dangerous?

The Risks

Jumping straight to the point, sleeping with earplugs can be dangerous but if you use them with precaution, it can be perfectly safe. Here's what you need to be aware of when blocking out noise at night:

  • Impacted earwax: yes, it's as gross as it sounds. If you block your ear canal for long periods of time the ear wax your body would have otherwise pushed out to clean the ear becomes stuck. And over time, the ear loses the ability to clean itself which leads me to the next point...
  • Ear infections: If your ears aren't cleaning themselves properly, that alone can lead to an unwanted ear infection. But leaving headphones or earplugs in the ear for a long time can result in a build-up of bacteria which again, leads to ear infections.
  • Muffled hearing: an obvious point but a strong one nonetheless. When sleeping in earplugs you're unlikely to be able to hear fire alarms and other alarms. It's really important you make sure to test how well you can hear alarms before settling down in earplugs.
  • Damaging the eardrum: Removing earplugs too quickly can result in a burst eardrum. Be sure to check that the earplug isn't too small or it can move down the ear canal and potentially damage the eardrum through the night.

How to minimize the risk

Earplugs can be really handy when you need a quiet nights sleep. There are ways to sleep safely in earplugs but try not make it a regular thing.

  • Do a noise check: the best way to do this is to take a nap and set your phone alarm in the furthest point of the room. If you can't hear it and it doesn't wake you. It's not safe to sleep in the headphones.
  • White noise machines: if there's a particular noise that keeps you awake. Try sleeping with some white noise in the background instead of earplugs. The white noise minimizes your concentration on any other sounds.
  • Headphones: external headphones could be a much safer idea than earplugs. They might not be as convenient but at least there's no risk of damaging ears.

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