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Listening to music, podcasts, relaxing sounds, or masking environmental noises with headphones can help a person fall asleep.

A quick look at 7 of the best headphones for sleeping

This article looks at the benefits and risks of sleeping with headphones and explores some of the best options available to buy online.

Sleeping with headphones on may help some people sleep, though there are some potential disadvantages, too.

The sections below will look at the benefits and risks in more detail.

Benefits

One benefit of sleeping with headphones on is being able to fall asleep quickly. This might be because a person can block out environmental noises or snoring.

Several studies suggest that listening to music while trying to fall asleep can help a person fall asleep faster and improve their sleep quality.

One study found that primary insomnia may improve after listening to music. Also, a 2022 study found that listening to music may help to improve sleep quality in people without sleep disorders.

Additionally, one 2008 study found that listening to music helped improve sleep quality, though listening to audiobooks did not. This might be because music can reduce sympathetic nervous system activity, decrease blood pressure, and lower heart rate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that adults who get fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night are more likely to develop conditions such as coronary heart disease, asthma, depression, or diabetes.

If a person sleeps better by using headphones, they may also reduce their risk of developing these conditions.

Risks

If a person uses headphones overnight to play loud music or other audio, they could damage their hearing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) have published a set of safe listening guidelines. According to these guidelines, exposing the ears to loud sounds can cause sensory cell fatigue in the ears. This can cause temporary hearing loss or tinnitus.

The WHO guidelines state that the recommended safe level for noise is below 80 decibels for up to 40 hours per week.

If headphones are not wireless, there is also a risk of the wire becoming tangled around the neck or another body part, which may restrict blood flow during sleep.

Additionally, using headphones during sleep may mean that a person cannot hear sounds such as fire alarms or children crying, which could pose safety concerns.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Styles: MNT chooses headphones that are available in a range of styles to suit most sleeping positions, such as over-ear, in-ear, and on-ear products.
  • Features: MNT chooses headphones that have a range of features, such as noise cancellation, in-built soundscapes, and Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Age: MNT chooses headphones that are suitable for a range of ages, including adults and children.
  • Price: MNT chooses headphones that are available in a range of budgets.

Below are some headphones that may help provide more restful sleep.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for adults and children: CozyPhones Sleep Headphones

These headphones are affordable and fit over the ears in a headband, which is comfortable to wear during sleep.

The headphones are inside the cushioned headband, so a person can move and remove them as needed. They are also compatible with most audio devices and come with a 52-inch cable and 3.5-millimeter (mm) stereo plug.

CozyPhones also offer wireless sleep headphones for children. These are available in different animal designs.

The wireless headband features a simple panel for track and volume controls. Also, the volume is limited to protect children’s ears from excessive noise levels.

Price: CozyPhones Sleep Headphones have a list price of $18.

Best for most audio devices: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Studio Headphones

These are over-ear studio headphones. They offer excellent sound quality, which may benefit people who want headphones to use in situations other than sleeping.

The padded headband and velour earpads make these headphones comfortable to wear for a long period of time. However, they are bulky, which may mean that a person cannot sleep on their side while wearing these headphones.

The headphones are not wireless. They come with 32-, 80-, or 250-ohm drivers, a 3.5-mm stereo plug, and a quarter-inch adapter. This makes these headphones compatible with most audio devices.

These headphones may suit people who sleep in very noisy environments or do not like to use in-ear headphones.

Price: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Studio Headphones have a list price starting from $147.

Best for noise cancelation: QuietOn Earbuds

These in-ear wireless headphones are good for canceling out environmental noises, such as traffic or snoring.

The QuietOn headphones use active noise control (ANC). ANC headphones work by picking up outside noise with a microphone and signaling to the speakers to produce a phase-shifted sound, which cancels out the external noise.

The product website states that the headphones block low frequency sounds, including snoring or sounds through walls, best.

A range of earbud shapes made from memory foam are available separately if the small, medium, and large earbuds provided with the headphones are unsuitable.

As these headphones are very small, they are suitable for people who sleep on their side.

Price: QuietOn Earbuds have a list price of $229.

Best for relaxation sounds: Bose Sleepbuds II

These earbuds work with the Bose Sleep app, which plays curated relaxation content to aid sleep and mask external sounds. This means that a person cannot play music, podcasts, or other audio with the Sleepbuds.

Users can set the app to run on a timer so that sounds do not play all night. They can also control the volume from the app if they still want to be able to hear some outside noises, such as alarms or people.

The Bose Sleepbuds II sit flush with the ear and stay in place by using the ear’s ridge and a silicone seal that fits inside the ear.

They come in three different sizes to suit a range of ear shapes and sizes, a charging and storage case, and a charging cable.

Price: Bose Sleepbuds II have a list price of around $249.

Best for tinnitus: DubsLabs Bedphones Sleep Headphones

DubsLabs promote these headphones as the world’s thinnest on-ear headphones. The speakers lay flat against the user’s head so that they can lie down comfortably while wearing the headphones.

These sleep headphones are wireless with a built-in microphone, charging port, and volume and track controls.

They are adjustable to fit any ear shape, with the speakers attached to memory wire that is also fully adjustable.

DubsLabs claim that their Bedphones Sleep Headphones are suitable for blocking out unwanted noises and masking tinnitus.

Price: DubsLabs Bedphones Sleep Headphones have a list price starting from $89.

Best for wireless headphones: SleepPhones Wireless Bluetooth Sleep Headphones

These headphones are wireless and have Bluetooth capabilities. The headphones are inside a headband which may make them more comfortable to use while sleeping, traveling, and working out.

The Bluetooth compatibility allows users to connect to Bluetooth devices within 15–30 feet. The headband is hypoallergenic and machine-washable. The headphones inside must be removed before washing the headband.

The company claims these headphones have a battery life of 24 hours.

Price: SleepPhones Wireless Bluetooth Sleep Headphones have a list price of around $100.

Best for light blocking: Sharper Image Bluetooth Sound Therapy Eye Mask

This product is a light-blocking eye mask that contains headphones. This may be suitable for those who require background noise and darker environments to sleep.

The product can connect to any Bluetooth device. A person may also choose to listen to built-in soundscapes such as rain, ocean, or stream noises.

The company states that this product has an 8-hour battery life. The eye mask comes with an adjustable strap and storage bag.

Price: Sharper Image Bluetooth Sound Therapy Eye Mask has a list price of $79.99.

The following table compares the headphones for sleep in this article.

CozyPhones BeyerdynamicQuietOnBoseDubsLabsSleepPhonesSharper Image
List price $18from $147$229$249from $89$100$79.99
Styleheadbandover-ear in-earearbuds on-earheadbandeye mask
Bluetoothyesnononoyesyesyes
Wirelessnonoyesyesyesyesyes

A person may wish to consider the following factors when choosing headphones for sleeping:

  • Style: Some headphones, such as in-ear headphones, may be more suitable for side sleepers. A person may also find a headband or wireless headphones more comfortable than wired products.
  • Price: A person should consider their budget. There are various styles suitable for differing budgets.
  • Music: If people wish to listen to their own music, they may prefer a Bluetooth-compatible device or a product with a wire. Some products have their own built-in soundscape or are only for noise cancelation.
  • Additional activities: If a person also wishes to use these headphones while working out or for other purposes, they should ensure the headphones they choose have this adaptability.
  • Wire length: If a person chooses a model with a wire, they should check if the wire length is suitable for their needs.
  • Comfort: As the headphones will be predominantly for sleep, a person should make sure they are comfortable to wear for extended periods.

One study that took place in a coronary care unit recommends white noise machines to improve and maintain a person’s sleep and to mask environmental noises.

White noise machines use constant sound to relax the person listening and to mask environmental sounds.

White noise also helps infants sleep, but some research suggests that white noise machines can produce unsafe levels of sound that may damage a child’s hearing if used over a long period of time.

In addition, autistic people may find white noise upsetting if they are sensitive to sensory stimulation. However, some may benefit from listening to music through headphones to block out sounds from their surrounding environment.

Learn more about white noise machines here.

Earplugs are another accessible alternative way of blocking out snoring or environmental noises to help induce sleep.

Learn more about sleeping with earplugs here.

A person who regularly has difficulty sleeping may want to speak with their doctor about treatment for insomnia.

Certain health conditions can also cause a person to be unable to sleep. If a person experiences other symptoms alongside an inability to sleep, they should speak with their doctor.

Below are the answers to some common questions.

What type of headphones can you sleep with?

Wireless headphones and headbands are most suitable for sleeping. This is because they are more comfortable and wires will not get tangled when people move during sleep.

However, a person can sleep with whichever style of headphones they find most comfortable. One factor that people may consider is what position they sleep in. If a person is sleeping on their side, they may find sleeping with in-ear headphones more comfortable.

Is it okay to wear headphones while sleeping?

Yes, it is okay to wear headphones while sleeping.

However, a person should be conscious of volume level. High volumes can damage hearing. Long-term exposure to noises at 85 decibels or above can permanently damage hearing. The maximum volume on headphones starts at 94 decibels.

Can sleeping with headphones cause headaches?

A person may experience a headache if the headphones put too much pressure on the head, or if they use consistently high volumes.

If a person has a headache as a result of using headphones, they should discontinue use immediately. If the pain persists or if they notice hearing loss, they should contact a doctor as soon as possible.

Getting good quality sleep is important for a person’s overall health. Using sleep headphones can make it easier for a person to fall asleep by blocking out disruptive environmental noises and aiding relaxation.

People may wish to compare online reviews from different sites when choosing headphones for sleep to get an objective idea of each product’s pros and cons.