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Loop earplugs review: The key to falling (and staying) asleep at night

I live on a loud, busy street in NYC and these earplugs are the only thing that helps me block out the noise and fall asleep.
Loop Quiet earplugs, which are one of three earplug options from the brand, are designed specifically to help with sleep and focus.
Loop Quiet earplugs, which are one of three earplug options from the brand, are designed specifically to help with sleep and focus.Kara Birnbaum / NBC News

I’ve struggled with sleep issues for as long as I can remember, and my current bedroom layout certainly does not help — my window directly faces one of the busiest streets in New York City. I’ve used every sleep tool under the sun, including sunrise clocks, sleep masks and calming essential oils, but the noise of cars, garbage trucks and passing conversations make it hard to fall and, most importantly, stay asleep. I’ve tried out earplugs, but couldn’t find many that blocked out enough noise and still felt comfortable and secure in my ear. That is, until I tried Loop Quiet earplugs (which the brand sent me for testing purposes).

The Loop Quiet earplugs are reusable silicone earplugs that, at $25, are pricier than the typical foam options you’d find at the drugstore. Below, I’ll share my experience trying them and why I think they’re worth the price tag.?

SKIP AHEAD How do Loop earplugs work? | How I tried the Loop Quiet earplugs | My experience with the Loop Quiet earplugs | Who are the Loop Quiet earplugs best for?

What are Loop earplugs?

Like most earplugs, Loops are designed to prevent noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus, specifically when it comes to loud noise exposure during concerts and nightlife. Each earplug is about the size of the flat surface of your thumb, and they come in seven colors, including bright blues and pinks and neutrals.

Loop Quiet Earplugs

The Belgian brand, which launched in 2016, has three types of earplugs: Quiet (the ones I tried), Experience and Engage.

  • Quiet ($25): Up to 26 decibels SNR of noise reduction (more on these definitions, below) and designed for sleeping and napping without interruptions.
  • Experience ($35): Up to 18 decibels SNR of noise reduction and designed to reduce noise from loud events, like music festivals and concerts.
  • Engage ($35): Up to 16 decibels SNR of noise reduction and are designed to block out background noise while still letting the user engage in conversations and social gatherings. There’s also Engage Kids, which come with smaller ear tips for children ages 6 and up.

The brand also has an earplug, known as Loop Switch, that lets you transition between the three types using a side dial. You can also purchase “plus” versions of the Experience and Engage, which comes with a mute insert to add 5 decibels of noise reduction — however, if you already own a pair, you can purchase the mute insert separately.?

Picture of a hand holding a Loop Quiet earplugs case on the palm.
Loop’s earplugs are small enough to fit at the center of my palm, and the circular base is approximately the size of a fingernail.Courtesy Mili Godio

Each set of earplugs comes with four silicone ear tips of different sizes to best fit your ears. Since they’re made entirely of silicone, they’re also washable with soapy water, which means you can reuse them as much as you like (usually up to six months), according to the brand.

How do Loop earplugs work?

Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB), which are units used to measure sound level. You can measure Loop’s level of noise reduction in either: decibels SNR (Single Number Rating) — which is a European rating system for the amount of noise a hearing protection device can block out, — or decibels NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) in the U.S. (NRR is typically 2 to 3 decibels lower than SNR). The higher the decibel level, the more noise reduction earplugs offer. For example, since the Loop Quiet earplugs have a higher dB level than the other two options from the brand, they’re best for sleep and focus, according to Loop.

We spoke with Dr. Aaron M. Fletcher, a board-certified otolaryngologist and founder of the Georgia Center for ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery, to help us further understand decibel levels. Products with NRR ratings of:?

  • Below 20 will provide a low amount of protection
  • High 20s to low 30s will provide a good amount of protection, and what you should generally look for when it comes to daily activities
  • Above 30 is the highest available protection a product can offer (around 33 decibels is the maximum)

How I tried the Loop Quiet earplugs

I first tried the Loop Quiet earplugs, which are designed specifically for sleeping and winding down, about a year ago when the NBC Select staff tested them for our 2023 Wellness Awards; (they also recently won a 2024 Wellness Award for best earplugs).

Since I have trouble falling back asleep in the middle of the night, I pop these into my ears as soon as I get into bed to help tune out any city noises that can disrupt my sleep a few times a week, depending on my sleep schedule. I also clean them regularly using soap and water, about every three to four uses.?

Recently, Loop redesigned its cases to be slightly larger and include dips that cradle each earplug. At about 1.5 inches across, it’s small enough to fit comfortably in the palm of my hand, and it has a stretchy loop at the top to connect them to a keychain or carabiner. The case is small enough to fit in my pocket. However, since the brand sent me these about a year ago, I’ve primarily used the older version, which comes with an even smaller case (about the size of a quarter) and doesn’t have the earplug-sized dips.

My experience with the Loop Quiet earplugs

I primarily used these to help fall and stay asleep, but I also used them a few times while working at home and in my office. Here is my experience with a few of the earplugs’ features.

Design and fit

The first thing that stands out about Loops is how they look — these are not your grandmother’s earplugs. With their signature circular base (thus the name “Loop”) and stylish colorways, I can confidently wear them in public (which is not the case for many other earplugs on the market). Fortunately, they do what they say, and they do it well — they let me seamlessly disconnect without compromising on style and comfort.

Loop earplugs worn by NBC Select writer.
The Loop Quiet earplugs not only feel comfortable and secure in my ears, but their small profile is also easy to hide if I want to.Mili Godio

In fact, the loop design, which fits around the natural crevices of the ear, has a much smaller profile compared to your typical earbuds like the Apple AirPods, which makes them easy to wear around and forget they’re even there. If you choose to wear one to a social gathering, an event or walking down the street, chances are, no one would even know you’re wearing them. Plus, the design is surprisingly comfortable: the circular base doesn’t press against my skin or feel tight due to the smooth silicone material. I forget I have them in most of the time and they don’t fall out of my ears while I’m sleeping (a common problem I have with most other earplugs).

The loop makes them easy to handle, too. “They’re much easier to take out and put into my ears than regular earplugs, which I feel like fall out of my hands constantly,” says NBC Select reporter Harry Rabinowitz, who was also sent a pair from the brand to try in 2023.?

Noise reduction level

The main reason these earplugs work for me is that, interestingly, they’re not noise-canceling, so they don’t block out as much noise as you may expect in earbuds. I’ve tried several foam earplugs to fall asleep, but I was always turned off by just how much noise they actually block. I didn’t like the feeling of being completely immersed in silence and only hearing myself breathe, plus I would find myself anxiously worrying that I wouldn’t hear my alarm go off for work.

The Loop Quiets, on the other hand, muffle rather than block; I can still hear louder noises like cars or trucks going by, but they feel more distant and less disruptive than if I had nothing on. That also gives me peace of mind knowing that I’ll still have some awareness without the complete silence. They also muffle and tune out more distant sounds or background noises, such as running water when my partner goes to shower, or a TV show at a low volume when I’m trying to fall asleep.?

Person holding a pair of Loop Quiet earplugs in the palm of their hand.
The updated version of the Loop Quiet case is slightly larger than the size of a quarter, and comes in seven bright colors.Courtesy Mili Godio

NBC Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg, who similarly has a bedroom window that faces a busy street, was looking into installing new windows — which cost thousands of dollars — before trying out these earplugs. “Sleeping in the Loop earplugs almost completely solved the problem,” says Ginsberg. “I have been using the same pair for over a year without needing to replace them.”

They are also particularly good for events you still want to be present in. Rabinowitz says that, though he does not have particularly sensitive hearing, he’s enjoyed noisy events much more with Loop Quiets. “I’ve worn these to two weddings now — I was on the dance floor or next to the music setup for over an hour, and my ears did not hurt afterwards,” he says. “But I could still clearly hear the music, people around me, the vibrations of the bass, everything. It was all just a lot more comfortable.”

However, as mentioned above, they are not noise canceling. I wouldn’t wear these earplugs in super noisy, busy environments, like a crowded coffee shop or a chatty office, with the expectation that they’ll keep me entirely “in the zone.” They do not filter out nearby conversations, so I can make out what people are saying if they’re a few feet away, and I’ll often feel myself tuning in to my co-workers’ chatter, rather than staying focused on my work.

Cleaning and storage

What makes these earplugs unique, in my experience, is that I can hand-wash the silicone base and ear tips using soapy water. As someone who used to wear single-use foam earplugs regularly, I found them wasteful and less budget-friendly — despite a lower price tag than Loops — because I was constantly needing to replace them. As expected, a reusable set of earplugs is a game changer; though the brand recommends replacing the ear tips every three to six months if you’re using them everyday, I haven’t really found a need to replace them quite yet after about a year of use.?

Two Loop Quiet earplugs cases side by side on a table.
Loops’ redesigned earplugs case (left) is slightly larger than the previous version — smaller than the size of my palm — and has two slots to comfortably store each earplug.Mili Godio

I like the new case design so much more than the older version. Despite the new design being almost twice the size, I still find it comfortably pocket-sized. Plus, one of the biggest drawbacks of the older case is the earplugs were awkwardly wedged inside; if they weren’t placed in a specific position, it was tough to close the case, which resulted in playing a game of tetris every time I tried to put them away. The new, larger case does not have this issue — it has two slots that perfectly fit each earplug.

Who are Loop Quiet earplugs best for?

Loop Quiet earplugs are best for those, like me, who have trouble falling asleep or focusing when there’s active background noises. However, for people who are constantly surrounded by louder noises, like nearby construction or conversations, a pair of earplugs with a high decibel noise reduction level — of 30 decibels or higher — would be best, according to Fletcher. Loop’s highest decibel earplug is the Loop Quiet; if you’re looking for something stronger with better noise reduction, consider Mack’s soft foam earplugs $10, which have 33 decibels SNR or 30 NRR of noise reduction depending on which scale you’re using, or 3M Ear Plugs $26, which have 33 decibels NRR.?

If you’re looking for plugs with some noise reduction but don’t want to miss out on certain experiences, like music events or group conversations, consider Loop’s Experience and Engage earplugs, which both retail for $35.

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Dr. Aaron M. Fletcher is a board-certified otolaryngologist — or ENT — at the Georgia Center for ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery. He is an expert in ear, nose and throat health and specializes in head and neck surgery.

Why trust NBC Select??

Mili Godio is an updates editor at NBC Select who covers a variety of home, sleep and wellness products, including blackout curtains, sunrise alarm clocks and cooling pillows. Godio tried the Loop Quiet earplugs for a year and considered their noise reduction level, comfort and appearance. She also spoke with a board-certified ENT to discuss the benefits of earplugs and how they work.

Catch up on NBC Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.

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