I have a question similar to the question 'Is it possible to create "over-the-ear" ear "plugs" for sleeping?', which was closed when posted on Engineering Beta. The poster wrote that they want to avoid using earplugs because they find them uncomfortable and there are also some medical issues with them like earwax buildup. As an alternative, is there any method to apply pressure from outside to your ears like when you close your ears with your hands? Earmuffs do not do that so I doubt they would be very effective, although I have not used them. When I searched on Amazon, most of the soft earmuffs that appear suitable for side sleepers do not have NRR ratings and do not appear effective, and those that do have NRR ratings are made of hard material and are similar to headphones, which I cannot use because I am a side sleeper. What are some methods to apply pressure to your ears to block noise rather than using earplugs?

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    Hi user402525, Welcome to Lifehacks. We hope you enjoy your time here. Please visit the Tour and Help center to find out how to get the most from our site. You might discover some discomfort from pressure on your ears as you describe. Explore other methods of aural isolation is where Lifehacks may be of some benefit. Stay tuned. Good luck.
    – Stan
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 18:02
  • Not quite sure what you want. Conventional ear protectors clamp around the head and form a seal, but I guess you're not wanting these because you can't sleep on your side. You also get silicone plugs that adhere over the entrance of the ear without going into the ear canal and without having any parts external to the shell of the ear. And you can wrap a bandage around your head to hold things against your ear, used for ear injuries. Are any of these relevant?
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 12:40
  • Thank you for your suggestion, I might try doing that. What I wanted ideally was a method to apply pressure over your ears like when you close your ears with your hands (because that is more effective than earmuffs/headphones), because although some headphones that are not noise cancelling apply pressure over your ears I cannot use them because I am a side sleeper. I want to avoid earplugs because although the fact that they fit directly into your ear canal makes them more effective than most earmuffs or headphones I find them uncomfortable.
    – user402525
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 18:07

2 Answers 2


I'm working on the same problem right now.

I've once or twice fallen asleep with earmuffs while lying on my back, but I couldn't do it while on my side, or on my belly.

So, I have cut a hole in a 4 inches foam in order to fit an earmuff into it, and then use it as a pillow while sleeping. Yet, when my head lays upon it, I still feel a bump caused by the hear muff. I guess I'll have to add additional thickness to the foam.

But the earplugs are another alternative that may be interesting to explore, especially the "custom iem plug" which may offer more comfortable options than the average ones.


Keep trying different earplug materials until you find one that is less uncomfortable. There are some memory foam earplugs that you must roll between your fingers before inserting. You can wrap each one with a small piece of gauze to help absorb anything from your ear canal. Also, try putting them in earlier in the evening, even if you take them out before sleeping, just to get used to them.

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