Sleeping With Headphones – Everything You Need To Know 2019

Sleeping With Headphones Everything You Need To Know 2019

Quick Answer

Sleeping with headphones covers the benefits, limitations, alternative options, and also risk factors associated with using headphones for bed. Headphone options include over the ear headphones, on the ear headphones, earbuds, and bone conduction headphones. Headphone headbands offer a comfortable, safer alternative to headphones for sleeping, allowing side sleep without ear canal interference. The best option will be specific to the individual, dependent on your circumstances and preferences.

Disclaimer: All information, content, and material on SlumberSeeds.Com is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified medical professional.

Sleeping With Headphones: Benefits

Sleeping with headphones can help you relax before bed, fall asleep quickly and get a good night’s sleep. Although sleeping with headphones has its limitations, which we will go into a little later, the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks in your situation. For the sake of context, the following benefits apply to sound and music in general. If you cannot play audible sounds or music at night because of your partner in the room, or due to housemates, using earbuds or headphones for bed may be your only option. The ability to block sound at the ear is a specific benefit to sleeping with headphones, which you could not get if you were to use general speakers or a sound device within your bedroom.

Relaxing On Ear Headphones

Noise Reduction

Do you have noisy neighbors? Or a spouse or partner who wakes you when they go to bed late? Sleeping with headphones or earbuds can drown out external noise, not only helping you fall asleep, but allowing you to stay asleep. Noise-reducing headphones are effective at reducing the overall decibel level of external sound, while playing white noise reduces the harshness of sound contrast. I have an entire article dedicated to falling asleep with noise titled Alternative To Earplugs For Sleeping, where I discuss the many ways to reduce noise levels or play soothing sounds for sleep.


Going to bed listening to your favorite music or soothing sounds is a great way to relax and help you fall asleep. Maybe you have trouble sleeping because you are stressed or wired from the daily grind? Listening to music, calming sounds, or even white noise can be a great way to physically and mentally gear your body to sleep mode. Soothing sounds or music can be used as a tool to ease muscle tension, lower your heart rate, slow your breathing, settle the nervous system and reduce stress & anxiety.

Aids Chronic Sleep Problems

Sleeping with headphones or earbuds and listening to music can help with chronic sleep problems, in addition to minor sleep challenges. Music with roughly 60 bpm (beats per minute) was found to help people fall asleep since a person’s heart rate moves towards 60 bpm while falling asleep. 

Sleeping With Headphones: What To Look For

If you intend on sleeping with headphones there are a few questions you need to consider before making your decision, such as:

  • What position do you sleep in? 
  • What are you looking to get out of your headphones? 
  • Is sleeping with headphones your best option?

Your sleep position will dictate whether sleeping with headphones is a realistic option for you. If you are a back sleeper, then finding headphones you can sleep in will not be a problem. If you are a side sleeper, headphones are not going to be ideal, so you should consider earbuds for sleeping instead.

Falling Asleep Wearing Over-Ear Headphones Earbuds

Choose Wireless Sleep Headphones

If you do decide on sleeping with headphones, wireless options are simply a must, to ensure you do not get tangled up in the cords. It is also important to not keep headphones or earbuds plugged into charging devices while in use, as power surges and faulty cables can be dangerous.


Let’s face it, if you are going to be sleeping with headphones or earbuds, overall sleep comfort is not at the top of your list. An alternative option is headband headphones, which are not as restrictive as over-ear, on-ear, or in-ear styles. If you are set on over the ear headphones, ensure you select a model with comfortable and breathable ear cup padding.

BuilD Quality

Build quality is important when sleeping with headphones since you will likely be applying pressure to them when pressed against a surface. Although the pressure will not be too high unless you directly roll over onto them, it is a good idea not to get something flimsy.

Sound Quality

Sound quality may not be your main point of difference when sleeping with headphones. However, you may want to consider sound balance and how harsh the headphones sound. Depending on why you require them, you can also benefit from using noise-canceling headphones for sleeping.  

Sleeping With Headphones: Best Headphones For Sleeping

In this section, we will look at the various headphone styles, how they impact sleep, and the best models to choose from if you decide that sleeping with headphones is for you. If you are considering sleeping with headphones to reduce nighttime noise, it is best to either get noise-canceling models or try an alternative method for blocking unwanted sounds.

Headband Headphones

What are headband headphones?
Headband headphones are the best option for sleeping with headphones. They are essentially a headband with slim cushioned speakers that sit on top of your ears. Not only do headband headphones come as a headband, but they can also double as a sleeping mask for any situation where you need to block out extra light while listening to sound or music.

Best Headphones For Sleeping: Headband Headphones

1. Lavince


  • Bluetooth headband
  • 10 hours of play time
  • Pairable with any smartphone or tablet
  • Stretchy – one size fits all
  • Soft, breathable material
  • 45-foot wireless range

2. Homder


  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 33-foot wireless range
  • 13 hours of battery life
  • Compatible with iOS, Android & Windows devices
  • Soft, cool & absorbent material
  • Stretchy headband design

3. Winonly


  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 10 hours of battery life
  • Stretchy headband design
  • Hi-Fi sound
  • Breathable material

Over-Ear Headphones

What are over-ear headphones? 
Over-ear headphones (circumaural headphones) completely surround your ears, seal against your head and reduce outside sound. Generally speaking, over the ear headphones are the most comfortable, however, even with their comfort, sleeping with headphones might be difficult. Over the ear headphones are best for people who sleep on their backs, for use while traveling, or times when you will be sleeping in an upright position. 

Sleeping With Headphones Beats By Dre

Best Headphones For Sleeping: Over-Ear

1. Beats Studio 3


  • Pure adaptive noise canceling (pure ANC)
  • 22 hours of battery life
  • Soft over-ear venting cushion
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Real-time audio calibration
  • Fast charging
  • Apple and Android compatible

2. Sennheiser HD 4.40


  • 25 hours of battery life
  • Smartphone and tablet compatibility
  • Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX compatibility
  • Instant pairing via Near Field Communication (NFC)
  • Soft leatherette covered pads for long, comfortable listening
  • Ear cup mounted controls for volume and changing tracks

3. Letscom


  • Wireless Bluetooth 5.0
  • Up to 150 hours of play time
  • Comfortable and durable soft ear cups
  • Deep bass function
  • Folding design

On-Ear Headphones

What are on-ear headphones?
Unlike over-ear headphones, on-ear headphones sit on top of your ear, allowing you to also hear noise from the outside. They are slightly smaller and may cause less restriction as you turn your head during the night. As mentioned above, sleeping with headphones can be difficult and on-ear designs are no different. A specific drawback of sleeping with on-ear headphones is the design, which makes it easier for the headphones to slip off your head while you sleep. Similar to over-ear headphones, sleeping with on-ear headphones are best suited for back sleepers, or those who are sleeping or napping in an upright position.

Best Headphones For Sleeping: On-Ear

1. Beats Solo3


  • Wireless Bluetooth
  • 40 hours of battery life
  • Premium playback
  • Multifunctional on-ear controls
  • Comfort cushioned ear cups
  • Quick low battery recharge
  • Apple W1 chip

2. Skullcandy Uproar


  • Soft synthetic leather ear pillows
  • Wireless Bluetooth
  • Lightweight design
  • 10 hours of battery life
  • Ear cup controls

3. Audio-Technica


  • One-touch pairing
  • Integrated controls – microphone & volume on ear cup
  • Remembers up to 8 devices
  • Soft memory foam ear pads
  • Adjustable headband slider
  • 38 hours of battery life
  • Hi-Res audio option (wired connection)

In-Ear Headphones

In-ear headphones or earbuds do exactly as the name suggests; sit in your ear canal. Sleeping with earbuds tends to be a much more comfortable option than sleeping with headphones because you are able to sleep on your side. There are still a few designs that are not intended for side sleeping such as the MPow Flame, however, you will still have a wider range of motion.

Best Headphones For Sleeping: In-Ear

1. Xeuming


  • Wireless Bluetooth 5.0
  • Hi-Fi stereo sound
  • Noise-canceling
  • One-step pairing
  • 30-foot wireless connection
  • iOS and Android ready
  • 6 hours of battery life
  • Portable charging case

2. Soowood


  • Wireless Bluetooth 5.0
  • 8 hours playback time
  • IPX5 Waterproof
  • 3 sized gel ear tips
  • Hi-Fi stereo sound
  • 1-2 hours charging time
  • Noise reduction

3. MPow Flame


  • Wireless Bluetooth
  • Flexible snug fit
  • Wire clamp for close-fitting
  • 9 hours of battery life
  • Fast 1-hour recharge
  • Hi-Fi stereo sound
  • IPX7 Waterproof
  • 3 ear tip sizes
  • Dual connection

Bone Conduction

What are bone conduction headphones?
Bone conduction headphones use vibration to send sound to the inner ear, through the cheekbone. This technology allows you to hear sound or music without placing headphones or earbuds directly over or into your canal. A possible benefit for using bone conduction to traditional in-ear and over-ear styles is a reduced chance of hearing impairment, compared to using standard headphones. Bone conduction headphones may be easier to sleep in than on-ear and over-ear, as nothing sits directly over your ears. You will be able to move more easily onto your side and not press a large housing against your pillow. Although there aren’t many bulky bone conduction speakers that would cause difficulty to turn your head, there may still be a slight discomfort from the earpiece on the top of your jaw, or the back band if you choose to sleep on your back.

Best Headphones For Sleeping: Over-Ear

1. AfterShokz Air


  • Wireless Bluetooth connectivity
  • Multipoint pairing
  • iOS and Android ready
  • Open fit
  • 6 hours of battery life
  • Lightweight
  • Wide dynamic range & deep bass

2. WGP


  • Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
  • 45-foot wireless connection
  • Anti-drop design
  • Flexible titanium headband
  • 6 hours playing time
  • 2 hours charge time
  • Lightweight
  • IP56 waterproof

3. Vidonn F1


  • Wireless Bluetooth connectivity
  • Ergonomic anti-drop design
  • 30-foot wireless connectivity
  • 6 hours of battery life
  • 2 hours recharge
  • 7 day stand by time
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof IP55

Sleeping With Headphones: Travel

Since you will most likely be sleeping in an upright position, sleeping with headphones or earbuds is your best option for use while traveling. The most effective way to block out unwanted noise and get some rest on planes, trains or buses will be through using noise-canceling headphones. These types of headphones are best practice when traveling, as you will not need to increase the volume as high to drown out external noise. 

Sleeping With Headphones Travel

Sleeping With Headphones: Concerns

Is sleeping with headphones safe? This will depend on how you define ‘safe’. In most cases, sleeping with headphones will not cause problems other than a challenge to comfort, however, prolonged use is not advised. For some people, sleeping with headphones can pose potential medical problems, or on the very rare occasion, have fatal consequences if not used with caution.

Falling Asleep

If you love fast-paced and loud music, sleeping with headphones is going to be very difficult. Not only is the music concentrated in and around your ear, but the tempo will also most likely energize you, while the volume may reduce your ability to fall asleep and even wake you up. If you do decide to sleep with headphones or music on your ear, ensure it is soothing and at a safe volume.

Medical Ear Concerns

You may be sleeping with headphones because it is the only way for you to get a good night’s sleep. There is a possibility that continuous exposure to audio played directly into your ear can cause long-term damage. If you think you are experiencing ear issues, it is best to seek the advice of a medical professional before sleeping with anything on, or in your ears. In addition to noise related damage, having something lodged in your ear for a long duration may cause otitis externa (outer ear canal infection), while you also run the risk of ear wax accumulation.


In an article published in 2018, Vice reported that a teenager died while listening to music through headphones that were plugged into a charging mobile phone. The cause is said to have been electrocution from a faulty charging cable and is thought to be one of four similar incidents from 2018. Although these concerns are not specific to sleeping with headphones, it is important to ensure your phone or device is not charging whilst listening, or that you use a wireless connection.

Sleeping With Headphones: Alternative Recommendations

As mentioned above, there is an entire post titled Alternative To Earplugs For Sleeping, dedicated to blocking unwanted noise and introducing sound, if you’re searching for ideas on either topic. If the main reason you’re interested in sleeping with headphones is for sound alone, the best alternatives are:

White Noise Machine

Not limited to white noise alone, white noise machines such as Atetion also allow you to play non-looping vocal music, rain, waves, streams, birds, and wind. 

Phone Or Tablet

Playing sound and music through your phone or tablet is a good alternative to sleeping with headphones, with the benefit that you most likely already own one. A drawback of using phones or tablets is that it may decrease the longevity of the device since it will constantly be running, especially if it is your phone.

Home Stereo

Using your home stereo system as an alternative to sleeping with headphones is another option, especially if you already own one. If not, it may be a worthwhile investment, as a good home stereo system can outlast most smaller devices. 

Using Speaker Based Systems

In general, falling asleep to speaker-based systems, rather than on-ear or in-ear devices, is the preferable and safer option. If you sleep alone, or the sound doesn’t carry and disturb others in your home, there is no better option for sleeping with music or soothing sounds. The only time you want to reconsider using a speaker-based system is if it will disturb those around you.

Final Word

Sleeping with headphones has its benefits, risk factors and alternative means of achieving the results you’re after. Although I do not recommend using headphones for bed, they may be your only option to reduce noise, relax and have a good night’s sleep. Generally, headphones come as over the ear headphones, on the ear headphones, earbuds, and bone conduction headphones. Headphone headbands are the most comfortable and safest choice, since they will allow you to sleep on your side without pressing into your ear canal. Side and stomach sleepers should ideally seek an alternative to sleeping with headphones, while back sleepers can do so, provided they have assessed the risk factors associated with covering ears during sleep.

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