With open window season upon us, sleeping through the night in one of New York City's vertical villages is more of a nightmare than ever.
And if the smash/roar/clatter of the garbage trucks or the raucous packs of bar-hoppers doesn’t puncture your REM sleep, then your next door neighbor’s guitar, plumbing or rampaging spawn will.
We have known troubled sleepers who drift into Ambien dependency, and others who experiment with over-the-counter ingestibles. Sooner or later though, anyone who closes their eyes in New York long enough winds up in front of the earplug display pondering the differences between wax and foam.
Here’s the lowdown on the two most ubiquitous in-your-ear solutions:
WAX: Costs around $1.00 - $1.50 a pair; popular brands Apex, Ohropax, Mack’s, generic
- Say what? These blobs of wax-like sound blockers (which are actually made of silicone, not wax) convert your partner’s snoring to a mere whisper, while the shrieks from the rooftop party across the street may be confused with the sound of pixies humming in far off Croatia. Silicone plugs aren't the cheapest, but you can re-use them a few times until they stop sticking.
- Works a little too well If you are a heavy sleeper, be warned: You may not hear your morning alarm. Also, these balls of wax do not breathe, which means your ears can get sweaty-itchy on hot nights.
- Stuck on you Since the wax is like putty, it adjusts to your ear canal for a snug fit. On the downside, it also clings to everything so you might need to untangle some hair the next morning.
- Not bringing sexy back Quarter-sized globs of white silicone--whether in your ears or lying on the nightstand the next morning with strands of your hair stuck to them--are somewhat less attractive than another silicone enhancement we can think of.
FOAM: Costs around $.25 - $1.00 a pair; popular brands include Hearos, 3M, Mack’s, generic
- Easy to find With almost every drug store carrying its own brand, it’s a cinch to find this type of ear plug. They come in different decibel levels, so you can customize how much sound you need to block out…eg no cat calls, just phone calls.
- Cheap Foam earplugs are so inexpensive you'll just reach for another if one bolts beneath the bed. They’re often given away free at concerts and other noisy events so you might even be able to score some gratis. Some companies, including Hearos, offer free pairs online. However, foam plugs don’t last as long as the other options because they tend to collect a lot of ear wax. You get what you pay for.
- Comfortable? Not so much Although they are made in seemingly every color imaginable, including “Sleep Pretty in Pink,” they frequently come in a spherical shape which doesn’t fit that well. It can be a struggle to get them to fit so they properly block out the sound, and they tend to be the most uncomfortable.