When it comes to going to sleep, a lot of people have debates over the best methods of getting the best sleep possible. One of the main reasons people have trouble falling and staying asleep has to do with distractions. It’s not uncommon for most modern families to live in a household with pets, loud noises, and other distractions keeping them from getting the rest they so desperately need. As a result, many families resort to taking matters into their own hands, or more specifically, their ears.
A popular trend lately has been the use of ear plugs to help block out distractions that might otherwise disturb someone who is trying to get rest at night. Ear plugs, while effective, often bring their own fair share of issues. As you’ll soon learn, there are quite a lot of problems that can be caused from wearing ear plugs. So if you’re asking yourself, “Should I wear ear plugs at night?”, you’re about to get an answer to that question.
The Benefits of Wearing Earplugs
Before we get into the negatives of wearing ear plugs, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that ear plugs actually have quite a lot of associated positives. For one, the easiest and most obvious positive is their effectiveness. When it comes to blocking out sounds, they are incredibly effective. Used by military personnel, warehouse workers, and other people who find themselves in loud environments, ear plugs are well-known for their ability to quickly eliminate any and all outside noises. While some noise is still allowed to penetrate the barrier created by the plugs, enough sound is deflected so that a wearer can avoid a ton of excess bombardment from undesired noises.
Another great benefit of earplugs is their relative low cost. In comparison to other methods of sound suppression, earplugs are a million times less costly. Some people pay a lot of money for headphones, sound blockers, and white noise emitters, all of which are incredibly expensive in comparison to earplugs, which are often made of cheap, easy-to-use foam. So by proxy, a benefit would be that you’re not paying all that much to get great sleep, assuming noise is a tremendous obstacle to you getting that great sleep.
While ear plugs are great for these aforementioned reasons, they aren’t perfect.
The Downsides of Wearing Ear Plugs
As great as ear plugs are for blocking sound, they are also great at doing some bad things to your ears. Your ears are a very sensitive part of your body. Aside from the outer ear, which works to pick up noise and protect your inner ear canal, the canal itself is actually quite prone to infection. Even the slightest amalgamation of dirt, soot, or other waste in the ear can lead to blockage or other health issues. Because ear plugs trap particles in your ear, they serve as an impediment of sorts to your ear canal, leading to a greater risk of infection or inability to hear properly.
Ear plugs are also hazardous to general health and awareness. If you’re sleeping with your ears plugged and someone yells for help or an emergency happens, chances are you won’t be able to hear. This is a big problem for those that live with elderly relatives or young children, because such individuals demand caretakers who are constantly aware and abreast of impending danger.
Because ear plugs are usually foamy, squishy, and spongey, they absorb everything. Little bits of bacteria, dirt, and debris often find themselves on the tips of the ear plugs, the same tips you put into your ears. So aside from trapping debris in your ears, ear plugs can actually bring even more from the outside.
Lastly, plugging a sensitive area like the ear canal can sometimes build up a lot of painful pressure. This pressure can not only impair hearing in the short-term, but if it damages the ear drum, long-term hearing damage is also possible.
While all of the aforementioned problems with ear plugs are certainly true, it’s also possible to mitigate these risks by simply thinking logically when using ear plugs. For one, be sure to use ear plugs sparingly. While it may be hard to get sleep in the immediate future, try to only limit ear plugs to nights when it’s an absolute necessity to get a given amount of sleep. For example, if you have a huge job interview the following day and you need your sleep, use the ear plugs. But if it’s just any ordinary night, avoid using the ear plugs, as prolonged use can increase the chances that any of the unwanted side effects of wearing them could happen.
Overall, the answer to the question, “Should you wear earplugs at night?” is the following: It depends.
If you think they can help, by all means, use them, but be sure to do so responsibly.