Marketed as earplugs for concerts, sleeping, and travel, they are supposed to be earplugs you bring with you everywhere to both protect your ears from loud damaging noises as well as to block out unwanted sounds. With a small carrying case, the earplugs can fit in your pocket on the go. The design is discreet, so in public, most people wouldn't notice you are even wearing them. Can the multi-use earplugs be good at everything? And most importantly, are they good for sleep? In this sleeping earplugs review, we review the Happy Ears earplugs as it relates to sleep specifically.
Karl Berglund co-founded happy Ears in Sweden. Karl suffered massive hearing loss in a surfing accident in Bali. After his accident, he attempted to protect his remaining hearing and was unsatisfied with the limited options of earplugs. Most earplugs available were generic foam earplugs that were conspicuous and uncomfortable. The Happy Ears earplugs are a significant improvement from the foam earplugs by using attractive packaging and thoughtful earplugs design to keep them discreet when wearing them. Since 2012, Happy Ears earplugs have grown in popularity and were custom branded as the official earplugs for musical events such as SXSW, Lollapalooza, Reeperbahn, and other music events. In this review, we will cover the design of the earplugs, the case, the packaging, earplug features, how to use them, and our experience using them while sleeping.
The Happy Ears earplugs are thin and use “clear” elastomer, which makes them very discreet when wearing. There is a little strip of color along the length of the earplugs that varies depending on the size (Small: red, Medium: white, Large: black). The earplugs component that blocks the sound is oval-shaped and expands to the contours of your ear canal. The earplug handle is thin and sticks out no more than ½”.
The packaging is a small thin clear bag that allows you to see the earplugs and case inside. It features the word Listen, the Happy Ears logo, and lists the earplugs use cases: music, sleep, and travel. The back of the package has quite a bit of information but could use a little design work. The backside of the packaging lists features, recommendations for use, warnings, and attenuation ranges. The advice “Ensure that the earplugs are inserted, adjusted, and stored according to the instructions” is confusing since there aren't any real instructions. The “instructions” are just the four pictures of a generic man putting the earplugs into his ear and include nothing about storage or adjustment.
The earplugs technology uses the principles of attenuation, which lowers the volume through the reflection, scattering, and absorption. I had no idea what attenuation was before purchasing these earplugs. Attenuation means there is a reduction of volume across frequencies, whether high or low. Typical foam earplugs frequently muffle the sound for specific frequencies. The Happy Ears earplugs use attenuation to reduce all sounds, which gives the feeling that someone just turned down the volume. The “volume” isn't a lot lower, but it is noticeable. It is still possible to have a conversation while wearing these earplugs without much trouble. The earplugs make sounds quieter (and hopefully let you sleep), but the sound quality remains clear. In the use case of sleeping it allows the sleeper to still hear an alarm clock, a smoke detector, or a crying child.
The earplugs came with a small heart-shaped plastic case. The earplugs fit snugly into the case giving it no extra room to flop around, making the carrying case very small easy to fit them into your pocket without creating a bulge. However, the small case has a few drawbacks. First, we found that the little clip to open the carrying case is so small that it is difficult for large fingers to open the case. Next, getting the earplugs in and out of the case takes some attention, not accidentally drop the plugs. With the snug fit, each earplug needs to be put in the correct spot, or the case won't close. Removing the earplugs from the case is also difficult. It almost requires a fingernail to pry the earplugs out and hope that you don't fling it out and drop on the floor.
The Happy Ears earplugs can easily be inserted into the ear with one hand. However, lifting the top of the ear while inserting the earplugs makes it fit into place a little easier. The main part of the earplug inserted into your ear canal is oval, but once inserted, it expands and molds itself into the shape of the ear. As with any earplugs, don't push in too far or force it into the ear to the point that causes discomfort. Once inserted, the earplug reduces the volume of the outside world.
The earplugs should be cleaned with soap and warm water or rubbing alcohol. To keep your ears healthy, and avoid potential health issues, follow our guide to earbuds for sleeping.
Happy Ears states that the earplugs will last a minimum of 3-4 months and should support daily use for up to a year or more. They have a “No Questions Asked” return policy for up to 90 days, but they also stated that it must be returned in an unopened package. Upon review of their website reviews, it appears that Happy Ears responses to all negative reviews and offers a refund.
The Happy Ears earplugs are marketed for a variety of uses that includes sleeping. There isn't anything specifically that makes these specially designed for use as sleeping earplugs. I found the sound reduction while sleeping “okay,” but, as a light sleeper, I wish I could block out more noise. They do as they say “turn down the volume” without muffling, which is excellent for a concert or wearing them in an office, but for sleeping, does it matter?
Do they work as sleeping earplugs? Yes. Are they perfect? No. As a side sleeper, the earplug handles can stick out of your ear and get into a position that may put pressure on the ear or get nudged out of place. It is possible to put them in your ear where the handle doesn't stick out, but it takes some adjustments to get them to stay in position when rolling around at night. On their website, Happy Ears claims that the earplugs material will soften after a few weeks of use, making it more comfortable to wear. With that said, everyone has such different ear shapes and sleeping positions and sensitivities with their ears so that results may vary.
I don't share my bed with someone who snores, so I can't provide a first-hand experience of using the Happy Ears earplugs next to someone who has a snoring problem. However, there were some negative reviews on these earplugs because they didn't do enough to block out the snoring partner. Blocking a snoring partner is just such a different requirement than trying to reduce the volume, retaining sound quality, and protecting your ears from harmful noise while attending a concert or loud event. If you are trying to block out snoring we recommend the Drift to Sleep earplugs.
At Sleep Culture, we always buy/test out the products before reviewing them, but we also look at other customer reviews to provide the most comprehensive review of each product. A few of the semi-common negative comments about the Happy Ears included that some users complained that the small-sized earplugs are TOO small, and reviewers feel like they could get stuck in your ears. Tip: If you think earplugs might be too little when you get them, wrap plastic wrap around the bulb and create a tail so you can pull them while testing the size.
The Happy Ears earplugs lower the sound volume while retaining the sound quality, and are discrete and comfortable. The earplugs are an excellent option for those who want all-around earplugs to use in a variety of situations that may include sleeping. The biggest challenge with these earplugs while sleeping is getting them to stay in position and not sleeping on the pointed handle or having them get displayed when moving around at night. As with any earplugs, results will vary with different ear shapes, sleeping positions, and sensitivities to pressure on the ears.
Have you tried Happy Ears earplugs for sleeping? Let us know your experience as a comment below.