If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you know just how noisy it can be inside the cabin. The constant roar of the engines combined with air rushing past the plane can make it difficult to hear yourself think, let alone catch some shut-eye during a long flight.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, wearing earplugs on planes can help reduce noise and make it easier to sleep or relax during air travel.

How Loud Are Airplane Cabins?

When it comes to the noise levels inside an airplane cabin, it can vary depending on several factors. The main sources of noise include the engines, air circulation systems, and passenger conversations.

The noise levels are typically measured in decibels (dB), which is a unit used to quantify sound intensity.

Decibel Levels Inside an Airplane

The decibel levels inside an airplane cabin can range anywhere from 70 dB to 100 dB, depending on the specific aircraft and its operating conditions. During takeoff and landing, when the engines are running at full power, the noise levels can reach their peak.

However, once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude, the noise levels tend to decrease.

It’s important to note that prolonged exposure to high decibel levels can have negative effects on our hearing. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), exposure to noise levels above 85 dB for an extended period can lead to hearing damage.

While the noise levels inside airplane cabins generally do not reach this threshold, it is still recommended to take precautions to protect your hearing.

How Noise Can Impact Sleep and Comfort

The noise inside an airplane cabin can impact our sleep and overall comfort during a flight. The constant background noise can make it difficult for some individuals to relax and fall asleep, especially during long-haul flights.

This is where earplugs can come in handy, as they can help reduce the noise levels and create a more peaceful environment.

Not only can noise disrupt our sleep, but it can also make it challenging to concentrate or enjoy in-flight entertainment. Additionally, excessive noise can cause fatigue and contribute to a feeling of overall discomfort during the flight.

By wearing earplugs, passengers can minimize these effects and have a more pleasant flying experience.

While earplugs may not completely eliminate all noise, they can significantly reduce the decibel levels and make the cabin environment more tolerable. It’s important to choose earplugs that are specifically designed for air travel, as they are often more effective in blocking out airplane noise.

Remember to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the best results.

Benefits of Wearing Earplugs on Planes

Reduces Noise

One of the main benefits of wearing earplugs on planes is that it helps reduce noise. Airplanes can be noisy environments, with the constant hum of the engines, the sound of passengers talking, and the occasional crying baby.

Wearing earplugs can help to muffle these sounds and create a more peaceful and quiet atmosphere. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who are sensitive to noise or those who simply want to enjoy a more relaxing flight experience.

Helps Block Out Disruptions

Earplugs can also help to block out disruptions on planes. For example, if you are trying to concentrate on work or read a book, the noise from other passengers or announcements can be distracting. By wearing earplugs, you can create a barrier between yourself and these disruptions, allowing you to focus and stay productive during your flight.

Additionally, earplugs can help to block out conversations from nearby passengers, giving you a sense of privacy and allowing you to enjoy your own thoughts without interruption.

Enables Better Sleep

Another significant benefit of wearing earplugs on planes is that they enable better sleep. Noise can be a major hindrance when it comes to getting quality rest during a flight. By wearing earplugs, you can effectively block out the ambient noise and create a quieter environment conducive to sleep.

This can be especially helpful during long-haul flights or overnight journeys when getting some shut-eye is essential.

What Kind of Earplugs Work Best?

When it comes to choosing the right earplugs for your flight, there are several options to consider. Each type of earplug has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to find the one that works best for you.

Foam Earplugs

Foam earplugs are a popular choice for many travelers. They are affordable, disposable, and easy to use. The foam material expands to fit the shape of your ear canal, providing a snug and comfortable fit.

Foam earplugs also have a high noise reduction rating (NRR), which means they can effectively block out a significant amount of noise.

However, some people find foam earplugs to be uncomfortable or difficult to insert correctly. They may also cause a feeling of pressure in the ears, especially during takeoff and landing. Additionally, foam earplugs can become less effective over time as they lose their shape and ability to expand.

Silicone Earplugs

Silicone earplugs are another option to consider. They are reusable and typically made of a soft and pliable material that molds to the shape of your ear canal. Silicone earplugs are known for their durability and long-lasting effectiveness. They are also easy to clean and maintain.

One advantage of silicone earplugs is that they can provide a more customized and comfortable fit compared to foam earplugs. However, they may not offer the same level of noise reduction as foam earplugs. It’s important to choose silicone earplugs with a high NRR to ensure adequate noise protection.

Custom-Molded Earplugs

If you frequently travel by plane and are looking for the highest level of noise reduction and comfort, custom-molded earplugs may be the best option for you. These earplugs are made from a mold of your ear canal, providing a perfect fit and optimal noise isolation.

Custom-molded earplugs are typically more expensive than foam or silicone earplugs, but they offer superior performance and durability. They are also designed to be comfortable for long periods of wear, making them ideal for frequent travelers.

It’s important to note that custom-molded earplugs require a visit to a hearing specialist to have them made. The process involves taking impressions of your ears, which are then used to create the custom earplugs.

Tips for Using Earplugs on a Plane

Test Them Out First

Before you embark on your next flight, it’s essential to test out your earplugs to ensure they provide the desired level of noise reduction. Different earplugs have varying levels of effectiveness, and what works for one person may not work for another.

By trying them out in advance, you can determine if they fit comfortably and effectively block out the noise of the aircraft cabin.

One helpful tip is to wear the earplugs at home in a quiet environment and see how much external noise is reduced. This will give you a good indication of their effectiveness in a noisier setting, such as an airplane.

If you find that the earplugs aren’t providing enough noise reduction, you can consider trying a different brand or type.

Have Backups Available

When it comes to earplugs, it’s always a good idea to have backups on hand. Whether you accidentally lose one, a pair gets damaged, or you want to share with a travel companion, having extra earplugs ensures you won’t be left without any protection against the noise on the plane.

Consider packing a few pairs of earplugs in different locations, such as your carry-on bag, your purse or backpack, and even in your pocket. This way, you’ll always have a pair readily available, no matter where you are on the plane.

Consider Noise-Cancelling Headphones

If you’re looking for a more advanced solution to block out plane noise, you may want to consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones. These headphones use advanced technology to actively block out ambient noise, providing a more immersive and peaceful listening experience.

Noise-cancelling headphones work by using microphones to capture external noise and then generating an “anti-noise” sound wave to cancel it out. This can significantly reduce the impact of engine noise, conversations, and other disruptive sounds commonly experienced during air travel.

There are various brands and models of noise-cancelling headphones available on the market, so it’s worth doing some research to find the best option for you. Some popular choices include Bose QuietComfort, Sony WH-1000XM, and Sennheiser PXC series.

Other Ways to Minimize Noise on Flights

Choose Your Seat Strategically

While earplugs can help reduce noise on planes, there are other strategies you can employ to minimize noise and make your flight more enjoyable. One effective way is to choose your seat strategically. If noise bothers you, try to book a seat away from the engines, as they tend to be louder.

Additionally, opting for a seat towards the front of the plane can help reduce noise from the galley and lavatories. Some websites, such as SeatGuru.com, provide detailed seat maps and reviews that can help you select a seat that suits your preferences and minimizes noise.

Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Another option to consider is using noise-cancelling headphones. These headphones are designed to block out ambient noise, allowing you to enjoy your flight without being disturbed by crying babies or engine noise.

Noise-cancelling headphones work by using microphones to pick up external sounds and then producing sound waves that are out of phase with the incoming noise, effectively canceling it out. They can be a great investment for frequent travelers or those who are particularly sensitive to noise.

Popular brands include Bose, Sony, and Sennheiser.

Try a White Noise Machine

If you’re looking for a more soothing way to drown out noise on planes, you may want to try using a white noise machine. These devices emit a constant, gentle sound that can help mask background noise and promote relaxation.

White noise machines come in various forms, including portable devices, smartphone apps, and even travel-sized versions. Some popular options include the LectroFan, Marpac Dohm, and Adaptive Sound Technologies’ Sound+Sleep Mini.


Airplane cabins can be very loud due to engine noise, air flow, and passenger disruptions. Wearing earplugs during flights can help reduce noise, making it easier to sleep, relax, or concentrate on reading or work.

The best earplugs for air travel are foam or silicone varieties that comfortably fit your ear canal and significantly dampen sound. Test earplugs at home first, have backups, and combine with other strategies like noise-cancelling headphones or strategic seat selection.

With the right ear protection, you can make even the longest flights more pleasant.

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