Yesterday it was 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) where I live. This is incredibly unusual in my area. So I wondered: Should you wear earplugs when it’s hot outside? I did some research and here’s what I learned.
Quick answer: If you can avoid wearing earplugs when it’s hot outside, you should do so. You are sweating more which also affects the moisture in your ears which is stopped from evaporating by the earplugs. The moisture will support bacteria growth and you’ll risk an ear infection. However, if you can’t avoid wearing earplugs at night (when you’re in a noisy environment) you should still wear them. The benefits of good sleep outweigh the risks and dangers.
Let’s take a look at what I just said in depth. Here’s what this article is about
- Why do earplugs collect more moisture when it’s hot outside?
- Risks and dangers of wearing earplugs in the heat
- What to do if you can’t avoid wearing earplugs?
- Alternatives to earplugs that don’t harm you when it’s hot
- How to wear earplugs when it’s hot
Why do earplugs collect more moisture when it’s hot outside?
When it’s hot outside your body tries to keep you cool and transpires. This is just another term for “You sweat”. You most likely know that you sweat a lot more and much faster when it’s hot outdoors. Now imagine you wrap yourself up in plastic foil. That’s essentially what you are doing when you put on earplugs during hot weather, just on a smaller scale.
By putting in earplugs you close the escape way for moisture and sweat that accumulates in your ear canal. It is, of course going to be a lot less moisture than on your forehead on your armpits as there are not as many sweat glands. But it’s still a significant amount.
Risks and dangers of wearing earplugs in the heat
The first immediate issue that will likely come up when you wear earplugs when it’s hot is, that they will start itching. The collected moisture together with tiny movements will cause unwanted itchiness that is really uncomfortable. The itchiness itself is not dangerous, however, it is a sign of other issues that could be dangerous: Increased moisture and bacteria growth.
If you want to know more about what you can do about earplugs itching, I’ve already written a detailed guide about what you can do to stop the itching here.
From my experience, the itching will continue even after you’ve taken the earplugs out. This gets really uncomfortable if you are traveling and you don’t have any Q-tips with you.
Promoted bacteria growth will increase the risk of an ear canal infection. Even though I don’t know anyone who got one from wearing earplugs, I would not challenge it.
These ear canal infections can become even more dangerous if you have a weak immune system. In that case, it can even cause a loss of your hearing.
What to do if you can’t avoid wearing earplugs?
If you can’t avoid wearing earplugs when it’s hot, for example when you have noisy neighbors or annoying street traffic next to your window, you have to think about another solution. Studies like this one have shown, that noise does in fact have an impact on our sleep which we want to reduce.
Use a white noise machine to cover up noise at night
So, either you still wear earplugs and face the risks or you employ another method of noise protection.
A white noise machine, for example, covers all unwanted noises with calm ambient noise, and it works! You can place it somewhere in your room and activate it before you go to bed. I tried it myself and it covered my neighbor’s gaming party pretty well. White noise machines are definitely worth considering.
Continue wearing earplugs at night
If you don’t want to get a white noise machine, you’ll need to continue using earplugs. Even though there are some risks, which you shouldn’t overlook, a lack of sleep will harm you as well.
The question should be: Do you want to lose sleep or do you want to risk ear infections? I think the probability of getting an ear infection is way smaller than the risk of sleep loss. If you need earplugs to fall asleep in a noisy environment, just use them.
However, you should try to only wear them when it’s really necessary and avoid wearing earplugs every day. Not only does the chance of bacteria and moisture development grow, but also you’ll risk earplugs addiction.
Earplugs addiction is when you can’t fall asleep without earplugs anymore. And I have experienced it as well. Even the smallest ambient background noise will hinder your sleep and you’ll need to put in earplugs. Wear earplugs only when it’s necessary.
Alternatives to earplugs that don’t harm you when it’s hot
When it’s hot, you’ll need to figure out a way to fall asleep without earplugs, because earplugs can become quite risky. As I previously advised, white noise machines are a great investment for your sleep. It’s a small machine, that will produce ambient sounds and covers all the unwanted noise like the sound of a fridge or your neighbor’s nightly television session.
Also, if you don’t want to buy a white noise machine because you are not sure about it, you can look for some white noise apps. It’s essentially the same thing as a white noise machine. However, you’ll need to hook up your phone to some big speakers. Your phone speakers are not powerful enough to cover up the unwanted noise.
I’ve already written an article about the differences between a white noise app and a white noise machine. It’ll help you to decide whether it’s worth it to buy a machine or if you should just use an app.
Use a fan as a white noise machine replacement
In case you want to save money, you can also place a fan somewhere in your bedroom. Of course, the wind should not blow at you while you sleep as that can cause you getting a cold. But if you place your fan somewhere where its wind does not affect you, a fan is a fantastic way to replace a white noise machine. It does the exact same job. By producing natural and calm sounds you cover all the unwanted noise from outside or your neighbors.
How to wear earplugs when it’s hot
After all, you can still wear earplugs at night. Even though the risk of bacteria growth and infections increases, you might not be able to sleep (or work) without them. Especially if you are living in a noisy environment and don’t want to buy extra sleep gear like white noise machines, earplugs can not be beaten.
After wearing my earplugs all summer, here’s how you should do it.
Replace your earplugs regularly
When it’s hot outside, replacing earplugs becomes more and more important because the moisture builds up just that much faster. If you replace your earplugs regularly, you’ll benefit from better sleep, better earplugs comfort (fresh earplugs don’t itch) and better noise protection. You can read a lot more about the importance of replacing your earplugs in my Guide Why Do Earplugs Make My Ears Itch? – How To Prevent it!.
Clean your ears with Q-tips before you go to bed
To reduce the number of bacteria that builds up in your ear canal you’ll need to clean your ears every night before you go to bed. Simply use Q-tips to do that. Don’t clean your ears with water (as this will promote moisture build-up).
Also, by cleaning your ears before you put in earplugs, your earplugs will last a lot longer. Usually, they become greasy after a few days. Cleaning your ears keeps your earplugs happy. Happy earplugs, happy you. When it’s hot outside, you can only wear earplugs if you keep your ears clean.
Listen to your body to find out whether you should wear earplugs when it’s hot outside
This tip seems obvious, but it’s the most important thing to remember. It doesn’t matter which of the tips you apply. If your body tells you it’s too hot to wear earplugs at night, then you shouldn’t wear earplugs. Your body will send you signals and you will understand them. These signals can either be psychological factors like feeling insecure or even afraid of wearing earplugs in the heat. Or they can be physiological signals like itching and feeling uncomfortable.
Did you ever enter a train that had no air conditioning in hot and sunny summer weather? The heat will hit you right in your guts. That’s how your ear canal feels when you close its fresh air-supply with earplugs. All of a sudden, it is exposed to moisture and heat. And you will feel when your ear canal doesn’t like it.
My suggestion is to just plug the earplugs in at night. If your body doesn’t like it, you’ll notice and you can still pull them out. No harm is done to anyone.
Can you wear earplugs when it’s hot outside? – The Outline
Yes, you can definitely wear earplugs, even though it’s hot outside. If you are a noise-sensitive sleeper you will most likely benefit from earplugs more than they harm you. However, for some people, hot weather will cause deep itching when wearing earplugs. Also, bacteria growth is promoted as humidity and dirt are trapped inside your ear and the air temperature inside your ear will adapt to your body temperature. That’s perfect for bacteria.
Therefore, especially if you are insecure about the health risks, you should take a look at other noise blocking alternatives like white noise machines. Even though they will not cover all the noise, white noise machines are a great compromise. You won’t have to put anything in your ear and slight noises like your neighbor’s television will get blocked.
If you want to learn more about sleep improvement, check out all the other guides that will help you to fall asleep faster and feel better every single morning!