Most people struggle sleeping in loud and noisy surroundings. Many find relief by using headphones for sleeping. Headphones for sleeping are specially designed to block irritating and disruptive outside noise. Apart from ensuring you sleep in peace, listening to white noise, soothing music or some other pleasant sounds is also beneficial for lowering your heart rate, and stabilizing your breathing, and simply explained, relax you before falling asleep.

If you are thinking about buying headphones for sleep, you may be having a hard time opting for the right model. These products come in different styles, can be designed to fit into your ear or to be placed over-ear and on-ear, and so on. In most cases, headphones have wires, but you can also find plenty of wireless models. Prices range from less than $30 to more than $250, and most sleepers find reasonable not to spend more $100 on headphones.

In this guide, we will discuss different styles and functions of headphones, buying tips, and our best picks for headphones for sleeping available today. As always, our choice is based on thorough market research and analysis, as well as customer and owner and experience. In order to create our list, we consulted with 3 sleep experts and spent more than 120 hours of research.

Counting Sheep’s List of Best Headphones for Sleeping

Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones

Key features: Earbuds, can be wired or wireless, 2-year warranty

Headphones for sleeping should be lightweight and able to block loud noise. Shure is considered one of the best headphones brands. Their headphones are known to be very lightweight and comfortable. They can also block up to 37 decibels of noise. If you prefer falling asleep with music, this product offers enhanced bass and high-definition drivers for a perfectly balanced listening experience.

Source: shure.com

The headphones are available as wired and wireless. The wired model can be connected to stereos or smart devices, and the wireless model is Bluetooth-compatible with smart devices. The earbuds come in three different sizes (small, medium, and large) and should easily fit inside the user’s ear. The connector also easily snaps into place and allows 360 degrees of rotation for added comfort. If you opt for the wired model, you should know that the cable is very durable and allows fast replacement and easy customization. Formable connective wires ensure secure placement, while over-the-ear style makes sure cables are out of the way. The Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Headphones come with a two-year guarantee.

Recommended for:

  • Sleepers and listeners who prefer earbuds
  • Those who look for noise cancelling sleep headphones
  • Wired or wireless headphone users
  • Sleepers who sleep in a very loud environment

CozyPhones Sleep Headphones

Key features: Headbands, wired, comfortable, 100% money back guarantee

If you are looking for a quality but budget-friendly headphones, you should consider the CozyPhones Sleep Headphones, available for less than $20. This product offers almost the same noise-blocking and listening experience as some of their much pricier and higher-end competitors, and that is why it has won our best headphones under 100 dollars category. The CozyPhones come with a durable cord that stretches up to 1.5 meters in length. Since they are over-ear headphones, some users may find them more comfortable to sleep with than earbuds.

Source: cozyphones.com

The CozyPhones Sleep Headphones are very light and easy to carry anywhere you go. Apart for sleep, they can also be used for sports, yoga, meditation, and travel. Their comfortable and light design is ideal for children and students, as well as when you have to deal with a snoring spouse or noisy roommates.

Many users find them particularly suitable for running and other athletic activities. The headband style also efficiently blocks outside noise and offers an immersive listening experience. Lastly, you should know that if you opt for these headphones, your purchase is backed by a 100% money-back guarantee.

Recommended for:

  •    Sleepers who prefer over-ear/headband headphones
  •    Wired headphone users
  •    Travelers
  •    Those who like to listen to music while running
  •    Meditation

Bose QuietComfort 20 Headphones

Key features: Earbuds, wired, 1-year warranty

Earbuds typically block out noise more effectively than other types of headphones because they are designed to fit into the user’s ear perfectly. The Bose QuietComfort 20 comes in three sizes (small, medium and large) and is considered one of the best noise-canceling headphones sold on the market today. QC20 headphones are specifically designed to work with Apple, Samsung and Android devices. According to user experience, this model is also considered best wired in ear headphones.

Source: head-phones.net

The buds are made from soft silicone, and this material fits comfortably into the user’s ear and then gently expands within the ear. Thanks to the built-in Active EQ and TriPort technology, the audio quality is excellent.

Apart from using these headphones to block outside noise or listen to music, you can also use QuietComfort 20 Headphones to make hands-free calls. The connecting core has in-line controls that allow you to toggle between music and calls. You also have an exclusive option called ‘Aware mode’. When turned on, it momentarily reduces the playback. The Bose QuietComfort 20 Headphones have a built-in, rechargeable battery and come with a 1-year warranty.

Recommended for:

  •    Sleepers who prefer earbuds
  •    Wired headphones users
  •    Those who look for noise canceling sleep headphones

beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Studio Headphones

Key features: Over-ear headphones, wired, professional- quality sound playback, 2-year warranty

Over-ear headphones are not suitable for all users because they tend to be bulky and sometimes heavy. Although most of the times, these type of headphones are used for professional recording and monitoring, they could also be used for sleeping. DT 770 Pro Studio Headphones are not only considered one of the best headphones for music, but also best over-ear headphones for snoozing.

Source: global.beyerdynamic.com

If you don’t mind the bulkiness and the extra weight, the DT 770 Pro Studio Headphones are definitely a model you should consider. These headphones are hand-assembled in Germany; they block noise very effectively and deliver quality and balanced audio playback. The product is available in 3 sizes based on audio output. The smallest size, 32 ohms is perfect for sleeping.

These headphones are wired, and the cable can stretch up to 1.6 meters. Ear pads are made of velour; they are very soft and can be replaced easily when needed. The velour earpads gently cushion the ears and allow users to listen to music for hours without experiencing any discomfort. The headband is flexible and can be adjusted according to your head size. Lastly, it’s worth noticing that the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Studio Headphones come with a two-year warranty.

Recommended for:

  •    Those who prefer over-ear headphones
  •    Wired headphone users
  •    Those who look for noise canceling sleep headphones

AcousticSheep SleepPhones

Key features: Headbands style, wired and wireless options, flexible design, 30-ft. wireless range offers a 1-year warranty

The AcousticSheep SleepPhones can be wired or wireless. The wired model has a stereo jack with a four-foot cord, while the wireless options are Bluetooth-compatible with many stereo and smart devices and offers a range of up to 30 feet. The battery is rechargeable, and last up to 10 hours.  These headphones are considered very high-tech and exceptionally comfortable due to their soft fleece construction. In bright sleeping environments, they can even be used as a sleeping mask.

Source: thesleepstudies.com

According to verified customer experience, the AcousticSheep SleepPhones efficiently block outside noise as earplugs would. The product comes in three sizes – small, medium and large. All three options are lightweight, suitable for traveling, sleeping and athletic activities like running. If you opt for this model, you can also download the SleepPhones sleep app to access a wide range of pleasant ambient sounds, white noise, and other sleep aids. It’s worth mentioning that this product was designed by a family physician who aimed to help patients to fall asleep faster and sleep better without using harmful sleep drugs. SleepPhones come with a one-year warranty and a 1-year satisfaction guarantee.

Recommended for:

  •    Those who prefer headbands headphones
  •    Wired or wireless headphone users
  •    Travelers
  •    Runners

Bluetooth Sleeping Eye Mask Headphones

Key features: Eye mask with built-in headphone speakers, wireless, very comfortable, Bluetooth-compatible, high-value option

The Bluetooth Sleeping Eye Mask Headphones is definitely a very innovative product and sleep aid. This device blocks not only outside noise but also reduces visual sleep disruption. The eye mask is made of velvet and elastic cotton. It’s very stretchy and comfortable to wear during the entire night. The built-in headphone speakers can be used either to block disrupting noise or to listen to soothing music. Apart from quality sound, and noise cancellation capabilities, this product also has adjustable positioning. You can quickly move them around until you find the right and most comfortable angle for your head and ears.

Source: parenting.com

The wireless headphones come with a battery that lasts up to 15 hours before requiring to be recharged. Sixty hours of backup time is also available. You can easily connect the headphones with any Bluetooth phone or portable device, and you can also use them for hands-free calls. A very interesting fact about these headphones is that they are washable. If you want to clean your Bluetooth Sleeping Eye Mask Headphones, you simply need to remove the speakers, and then you can wash it. All materials are of high-quality, so you don’t have to worry about the mask shrinking or deforming. You may think that an innovative device like this is very expensive; however, these headphones are widely available for less than $25. Could this be the best cheap wireless headphones for sleep you were looking for? Due to their price and features, this product won our sleep headphones best buy category.

Recommended for:

  •    Listeners who prefer headband-style headphones
  •    Wireless headphone users
  •    Travelers
  •    People who suffer from insomnia
  •    Sleepers who are easily awakened by light
  •    Value seekers

Best Headphones for Sleeping First-Time Buyer’s Guide

Many people who have troubles falling asleep at night due to many reasons (for example noise or stress) rely on headphones to wind down for bed. Listening to music, ambient sounds or white noise can help you to alleviate stress, lower your heart rate, relax and simply, prepare yourself to sleep. When it comes to sleep-friendly headphones, you have a vast array of wired and wireless models to select. Depending on your preferences, you may opt for earbuds or headband headphones. Some users prefer earbuds because they fit around or inside the ear easily and comfortably. Other users prefer headbands or look for more innovative devices such as sleep masks outfitted with audio speakers. Sleeping headphones are available for every budget, and you can get them for less than $30. If you have a larger budget, you may consider high-end options that are pricier, but also come with additional features. If you are a first-time buyer, you may have troubles deciding what headphones model suit you best. Here are some shopping and safety considerations that will help you to select the best headphones for sleeping.

Common Designs and Characteristics

Headphones for sleeping look very similar to the ones that are designed for everyday use. You can use them to play music, white music or other sounds, make hands-free calls and so on. However, there are a few things that set apart sleeping headphones from regular headphones. The first difference is nighttime comfort. Headphones for sleeping are particularly designed to remain in the user’s ear during the entire night without causing discomfort or irritation in the ears. The second significant difference is the ability of headphones to block outside noise.

There are four common designs for sleeping headphones – over-ear, on-ear, in-ear, headbands, and sleep masks.

Over-Ear Models

Over-ear headphones refer to traditional models we have used at least once in our lives. These headphones mold around the outer ear for a close fit. Typically, they are larger and connected with a solid band that fits around the top of the head.

On-Ear Models

On-ear headphones are also known as clip-on headphones. They are smaller versions of over-ear models and don’t enter the ear canal of the user. On-ear models may be suitable for individuals who find over-ear headphones bulky or uncomfortable for sleeping.

In-Ear Models

In-ear models, commonly known as earbuds, fit comfortably into the user’s ear canal. The sound quality is always considered above average, and every model has excellent noise canceling potential. However, depending on the model, some users may experience discomfort with prolonged use. Some consumers simply find them uncomfortable for sleeping

Headbands and Sleep Masks

If you find headphones generally uncomfortable for sleeping, you can check out noise canceling headbands and sleep masks. Noise blocking headbands and sleep masks don’t have headphones are innovative sleep aids that don’t fit around or in the ear but come with built-in audio speakers. These sleep aids typically have a layer of cushioning between the headphones and the user’s pillow, making them very comfortable for side sleepers or combination sleepers.

Wired and Wireless Designs

Sleeping headphones usually have wires and cords that connect them to the music players. Depending on the way you sleep, this may be a bit uncomfortable. Many models can also be wireless, meaning they play music without a physical connection, by receiving signals from the music-playing device.

Sound Playback

When it comes to sound playback, quality headphones for sleeping have to be noise-canceling. This means they have to reduce or completely eliminate noise efficiently. Noise is typically reduced or eliminated of the headphones have a proper design. They should either fit snugly into the ear or around it.

Additionally, you should know that some sleep headphones can also provide high-quality white noise and ASMR sounds. White noise can refer to sounds that are not irritating, but rather soothing and relaxing. White noise helps to block outside noise. ASMR sounds create a tingling sensation in the ears that help the listeners to relax and block out irritating and unpleasant outside noise. Headphones designed for ASMR playback typically come with high-quality microphones that reduce crackling or sounds of popping.

Volume Controls

Most sleeping headphones are similar to everyday headphones. However, when listening to loud music, you should have in mind that listening to music at a volume higher than 60 dB for long periods of time can damage your hearing. Most music players and smart devices will warn you when the volume is too high.

Are Headphones Safe for Sleeping?

Sleeping with headphones can help you to sleep better, especially if you struggle with sleeping in a noisy environment. However, there are some health risks you should have in mind, such as earwax buildup, otitis externa, hearing problems, and so on. Let’s take a closer look at some of them:

Earwax Buildup

Some headphones, especially earbuds style models, form a tight seal over the ear canal, therefore reducing circulation. Due to decreased blood flow, earwax can accumulate a lot faster around the eardrum than usual. The excessive buildup is not healthy; it can be painful and may even require a doctor’s visit.

Otitis Externa

Headphones that go deeply into the ear canal may lead to inflammation, but generally speaking, it rarely occurs. The swelling occurs when the skin in the ear canal becomes irritated, and fluid begins to leak. Listening to music at a volume that is damaging for your hearing may also cause this condition.

Hearing Problems

Listening to music at a high volume, can as mentioned before, cause hearing problems. According to experts and doctors, listening to music at a volume higher than 60 decibels for a prolonged period of time can cause damage or even lead to hearing loss.

Strangulation Hazard

Wired headphones may pose a safety risk if you tend to toss and turn the entire night. If you continuously switch sleep positions, the wires may wrap around our throat during sleep. There is little chance to significantly block the airway or cause asphyxiation, but users should still be careful and keep this safety consideration in mind.

Distraction Potential

Since many headphones are designed to block outside noise efficiently, there is a risk that sleeper may not hear other sounds in their home, such as when a fire, a medical issue or a home invasion occurs. This is particularly important no matter whether you live alone, with family members or roommates.

Despite all the mentioned risks, it’s also important to note that severe injuries like this occur very rarely. By listening to music at a reasonable volume, removing the headphones when you feel discomfort and monitoring wire placement, you can at the same time, easily prevent these issues from occurring, and sleep at peace.

Considerations when Buying Sleeping Headphones

Now let’s take a closer look at some of the most important factors you should keep in mind when buying sleeping headphones and comparing different brands and models. Among the most important factors you should consider is price, comfort (including size and weight), your sleep position and warranty length.

Price

As mentioned in the beginning, a new pair of sleeping headphones can cost less than $20, but also more than $200. High-tech models with multiple functions and wireless models are typically more expensive. Simpler earbuds, wired models and clip-on headphones are more affordable.

Comfort

Comfort is an essential consideration when shopping for sleeping headphones. Whether you select over-ear, on-ear or in-ear is completely based on your personal preferences. Some people find headbands and over-ear models too bulky, while others find earbud styles and sleep mask devices to invasive. Before buying a specific model, it’s recommended to try them or to at least, try a similar model to see how it feels.

Weight

Weight is also linked to comfort preference. Over-ear and clip-on headphones are bulkier and weigh more than earbuds, headbands and sleep masks. Over-ear styles can weigh up to one and a half pounds, while other models weigh six ounces or less.

Size

Size, similar to comfort and weight, also comes down to your personal preference. Typically, all models come as one-size-fits-all or are available in at least three different size – small, medium and large. Most women find the small or medium size comfortable for their ears, while men typically opt for medium or large sizes. Of course, it all depends on the shape, unique curves and depth of your ear canal. Sometimes, the size of the headphones can be based not on physical measurements and similar specifications, but rather on their electrical resistance. If the size is based on electrical resistance, then it’s measured in ohms.

Sleep Position

If you prefer to sleep on your back or stomach, any type of sleeping headphones should be comfortable for you. If you are a side sleeper, you will most likely find comfortable using a headband or a sleep mask, because over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear models may cause discomfort with prolonged use, especially when they come between your ear and the pillow.

Tossing and Turning

If you tend to toss and turn a lot during the night, constant movement can put a strain on headphones and quickly lead to damage or deterioration, especially if the model you are using has thin and delicate wires. In that case, it is better to opt for wireless headphones, headbands or sleep masks. If you prefer wired headphones, we suggest choosing models that have a durable and reinforced cord.

Wired or Wireless?

As mentioned before, if you tend to toss and turn a lot, it’s best to opt for wireless models. If you sleep peacefully and in a sleep position that reduces the risk of strangulation (for example, if you are sleeping on your stomach or back), you can comfortably use wired headphones. However, keep in mind that in case you opt for a wireless model, you also must get a wireless speaker or a music playback device.

Cord Length

Depending on the layout of your bedroom, the length of the cord may be relevant to you. It’s essential that the cable can stretch enough to connect the wired headphones to your playback device with ease.

Warranty Length

Not all headphones come with a warranty. The length of the guarantee also depends on multiple factors. On average, the buyer should expect one or two years of coverage. In rare cases, some headphones offer a lifetime guarantee. Before buying sleeping headphones, make sure you inquire about the coverage.

Additional Tips for Blocking Noise and Sleeping Better

If sleeping headphones didn’t help you to fall asleep properly, or if you simply don’t like to wear them in bed, you should consider other strategies for blocking unpleasant sounds and sleeping without any external audio disruptions. Alternatives to sleeping headphones may include earplugs, white noise machines, sleep apps and similar. Let’s take a closer look.

Earplugs

Earplugs can either be conventional or specifically tailored to your needs. Standard foam earplugs are very affordable and may be the perfect solution for isolating yourself from noise at night. It’s also a good and cheap alternative to sleeping headphones. To use earplugs, you need to twist them and put them into your ear canal. Once in place, they will gently expand and create a tight, noise-blocking seal. A box of 100 pars may cost as little as $10.

In case you are interested in getting customized earplugs, you can buy an earplug molding kit. These molding kits allow the user to create a personalized pair based on the unique curves and contours of their ear canal. These kits are a bit more expensive, and you will probably have to pay $10 to $20 for a molding kit with one pair of customized earplugs. Typically, all packages come with how-to guides and step-by-step instructions.  

White Noise Machines

Sometimes, masking the unpleasant noises with white noise may help you to fall asleep peacefully. Apart from white noise machines, some models can produce other noise colors, such as pink. Pink noise is characterized by gradually decreasing in volume per octave, which creates a balanced listening experience. White noise is simple and constant volume-per-octave. Apart from white and pink, you can also get blue, red and brown noise machines.

All sound producing machines are equipped with speakers, as well as headphone jacks for more private listening. These machines are quite affordable and can be bought for less than $100. You can easily purchase one online or at your local brick-and-mortar store. In case you don’t want to invest in a white noise machine, you should consider using home devices that create white noise, such as a fan.

Sleep Apps and White Noise Apps

Another way to save money you would otherwise spend on a white noise machine is to download an app compatible with your smartphone, tablet or other portable devices. In most cases, these apps are free. If you need to pay for them, they usually never cost more than $2 or $3. All sleep apps and white noise apps come with a variety of ambient sounds and noise that will accommodate sleepers with different preferences. Some of the most popular white noise white noise apps that are free or cost $2 or less are Coffitivity, myNoise, Noisli, Sleep Fan, and White Noise. Sleep apps like these are handy because, apart from containing white noise, they also nature sounds such as rainfall and ocean waves. Many people find nature sounds more relaxing and pleasant to sleep with than white noise. In some cases, people can’t fall asleep with white noise because the repetitive, consistent sounds are easy for the brain to ignore. However, this does not apply to machines or apps that feature ocean sounds with intermittent fog horns, or forest sounds with intermittent animal and bird calls.

Apart from using white noise as a sleep aid, when you have insomnia, these machines can also be used to help people with a condition called tinnitus, which is characterized by ringing or buzzing in the ear. Tinnitus mostly affects older adults, and it is more noticeable at night when there is less everyday noise to distract the individual from it. White noise, as it helps to block outside noise, can also help with masking the ringing.

ASMR Noise

If you don’t like to use white noise or it simply can’t help you to fall asleep, we encourage you to try ASMR sounds.  You can easily find ASMR sounds on Youtube; there are actually playlists and channels with a vast array of ASMR videos and programs. These are free to use, but they typically last only an hour, making them unsuitable for sleepers who would like to listen to these sounds all night. Like white noise apps, you can also find ASMR apps for smart devices. Some of the most popular apps of this kind are Tingles and Love ASMR.

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