loop earplugs on white pedestal and cement background

Can These Cheap and Cool-Looking Earbuds Help You Stay Asleep? Maybe

Don't ask me how Loop managed to make earplugs cool—they just are.

There are so many factors affecting your quality of sleep that we occasionally forget the most obvious ones—light, temperature, and, perhaps the most slept-on, sound. After you’ve turned down the thermostat, put the phone on do not disturb, turned off the lights, closed your eyes, and decided it’s time for shut eye, your ears continue to do their noble work. Unfortunately for some, this often translates to lying awake, mentally interrogating every scratch, bump, and knock heard throughout your home. One solution is to simply put your surrounding world on mute for the night, which is exactly what new-age earplug brand Loop provides. 

The buzzy brand makes earplugs for all circumstances a person might want to drown out sound, but it’s its sleep-bettering option that interests us most. Does a $25 set of sleep earplugs really offer anything more than a dirt-cheap pair you can get just about anywhere? We wore them for a month to find out. 

What Are Loop Earplugs?

Loop’s earplugs are an evolution of the classic wax, cloth, foam, or rubber earplugs you might be familiar with from NASCAR races, concerts, or other problematically loud events. The brand’s take on the old category brings flexible silicone and various levels of decibel reduction—called Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). 

The Loop Quiet’s 28 NRR (or a reduction of 27 decibels) is its most sound-reducing offering, and can be bettered by another 5 decibels with an additional $15 muting kit.

Man wearing loop earplugs
I usually go for darker-colored earbuds like these Loop Quiets in navy, so people can more easily tell that I'm not ignoring them, I simply can't hear them.

What’s Good About Loop Quiet Earplugs?

Effectively reduces noise, but still aware of surroundings

As mentioned, Loop Quiet earplugs are rated to reduce sound by 27db. A shade under 30db is solid, and put into real-world terms, sounds roughly like the difference between a vacuum cleaner running a few feet away from you (~70db) and a whispered conversation a couple tables down from you at a restaurant (~40db). Having worn Loop Quiets in a variety of scenarios, this kind of  reduction feels about right. 

I’m not initially bothered by loud noises in my daily life, but I often notice headaches follow prolonged exposure to them. An easy test case was mowing the lawn—lawnmowers put out about 85 to 95db when running, which exceeds the 85db threshold of sounds that can damage your hearing. Wearing Loop’s Quiet buds while mowing was comfortable and made the post-mow beer much sweeter. 

Then there is the intended use case: falling and staying asleep. I should note that I don’t usually struggle to fall asleep, but I struggle mightily to stay asleep. I’m a bundle of nervous anxiety—was that the back door creaking? and so on—and though my sleep tracker (I use Amazon’s Halo Rise) didn’t register improved sleep, anecdotally I know I woke up fewer times in the night.

Thankfully not “one size fits all”

I’ll keep this one short: thank goodness Loop includes a range of ear tip sizes. I don’t know if you know how big or small your ear holes are, but apparently, mine are particularly large. The standard ear tips for AirPods and other earbud products usually do not stay put in my ears. Loop sends you a collection of three different sizes, so you’ll find your personal Goldilocks fit without issue. 

Comfortable to wear (for the most part)

You know how after an hour or more AirPods start to hurt the inside of your ears? That was the case with other sleeping earplugs I’d tried as well (and definitely the case with the super-affordable foam options you can get at the gas station). Loop’s silicone build is cozy, comparatively. They bend and flex nicely and don’t wiggle or feel like they’re going to fall out. I wore them through five hours of yard work, power drilling, and other house projects one day and never felt like I needed to pop them out and give my ears a break. 

What’s Not Good About Loop Quiet Earplugs?

Not ideal for side sleepers

I’m a hybrid sleeper. I sleep on my back some nights, my stomach on others, and my side when I feel like it. Only I couldn’t sleep on my side wearing these earbuds. The non-ear part—the circular silicone grabber, for lack of a better term—ever so slightly sticks out and pushes the plug further into your ear when pressed against a pillow. It’s not painful, per se, but it’s not comfortable either, and so I don’t think it’s worth trying to force myself to sleep through it.

This revelation sucked, largely because Loop’s earplugs had proven to be a welcome surprise otherwise. I still pop them in if I’m sleeping on my back or stomach, but if you’re a night-by-night side sleeper looking for a reprieve from sound I wouldn’t recommend them. 

Not great if you want total silence

While 27db reduction is solid and meaningful, it won’t be enough for everyone. My partner bought a pair of Loop Quiets along with me for this review and found them excellent at everything except their primary duty of reducing noise. This may be an expectation vs. reality critique—if you want total silence while sleeping, you’ll need something more heavy-duty than a $25 pair of silicone earplugs—but it’s one that seems somewhat common when browsing reviews online. If you can hear the contents of a conversation across the room clearly without these earplugs, you’ll still hear the conversation with them in, you simply won’t be able to make out exactly what’s being said. They’re sound reducers, not sound eliminators. 

The Bottom Line

Loop’s earplugs reduce enough sound to calm a racing mind at night, but not so much that you can’t hear anything at all. Therefore, if you want total silence, consider something more heavy-duty, but if you don’t want to mistake your fridge for an intruder, they’re a good value for the money.