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Do earplugs offer complete silence?

Sometimes, all you need is a moment of peace, especially when trying to get some work done with overexcited colleagues around or when the neighbours' kids are being noisy while you’re trying to sleep.


At such times, noise-cancelling earplugs that can keep all disturbances at bay seem like a godsend. But do they exist?


Why no earplugs can block all noise

Have you ever found earplugs that block all noise? Probably not. There's a genuine reason behind this phenomenon.


Try covering your ears with your fingers. Can you still perceive any sound? You might find that the sounds are softer, but they are still present. How so?


Sounds travel to our eardrums via air conduction, through the air and our ear canals. Additionally, our skull bones also conduct vibrations to the eardrums, known as bone conduction. These vibrations are then converted into sound signals for the brain by the inner ear. Hence, no earplugs can achieve absolute silence. 


What you can do to get some peace

No earplugs can block out all sound, but there are quality ones that can significantly reduce noise. Some attenuate more noise than others. So, what should you look for?


First of all, more noise reduction isn’t always the answer. In the office, you want background noise to be less distracting but you still want to be able to understand your colleague when they ask a question. Earplugs with noise filters filter offer the best solution. The filters dampen background noise, but you can still hear enough.


When you want to sleep, it's a different story. Especially if you have a snoring partner next to you, attenuation is very important. Sleep earplugs like the Alpine SleepDeep earplugs offer high noise-reduction (27 dB!) and are the right choice in such situations.




Drawbacks of maximum noise reduction earplugs

Earplugs without filters might make you feel sealed off, leading some to hear their blood pumping, a sensation that can vary from person to person. Our inner ear, which also houses our balance organ or vestibular system, is vital for maintaining equilibrium. Using maximum noise-reduction earplugs can sometimes disrupt its functionality, causing feelings of dizziness. Therefore, such earplugs are most suitable for sleeping.



Earplugs that create a completely silent environment don’t exist because sound reaches your eardrums in multiple ways. Thankfully, there are many different options to give you the right level of peace and quiet. If you are looking for noise-reducing earplugs, your options range from foam to filter earplugs.