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Many people struggle to fall asleep and/or stay asleep if there are sounds such as a partner snoring or traffic noises. While you might not be able to prevent these interferences, headphones for sleeping can block them out to help you get the quality rest you need.
You may be tempted to use your favorite pair of headphones for sleeping, but keep in mind that normal headphones are not built for this purpose. In most cases, they won’t work properly and carry potential risks. Luckily, there is a wide range of headphone options and styles designed specifically for sleep. While high-end sleep headphones can cost more than $250, you’ll also find budget-friendly options priced at less than $100.
This guide will discuss our picks for the best headphones for sleeping and what makes them stand out. We’ll also share other important tips to help you decide whether a set of headphones for sleeping is right for you.
SleepFoundation readers can use this exclusive discount code with Moonbow by Dubslabs: SLEEPFOUNDATION20
The Moonbow Bedphones Sleep Headphones stand our thanks to their compact design and impressive versatility.
These headphones rest on the outside of the ear and wrap around with rubber-coated memory wire for a more comfortable, secure fit. The wire can be placed in front of or behind the neck depending on what the sleeper finds most comfortable. Wired and wireless designs are available for connecting to external devices, but both feature wires that connect the headphones. A cable slider allows for adjustments to make the fit more secure.
An inline microphone and remote are built into the Bedphones for easy call answering. The remote allows the user to play, pause, and skip music. The headphones are less than a quarter-inch thick and barely noticeable for side sleepers. While Bedphones are crafted especially for sleeping, their thin and lightweight design may also appeal to travelers, athletes, and anyone else looking for a more comfortable listening option.
Each set of Bedphones comes with a carrying pouch and replacement foams. They are compatible with most phones and devices provided that they have mp3 players and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Users with an iPhone 7 or later will need to use their adapter. The wireless version of the Bedphones has a rechargeable 180mAh, 13-hour battery.
Customers can return their Bedphones within 30 days of their purchase for a full refund. A one-year warranty protects against defects to the headphones.
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The Dormi Dream Headphones are constructed in a wireless headband style many listeners equate with expensive price-points, but they are more affordable than most competing models without sacrificing quality or cutting-edge features. Soft polyester-spandex fabric ensures a comfortable fit without the tight squeeze of other stretch fabrics. The speakers also have a thin profile that makes the headband ideal for side sleeping.
Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity delivers the latest in wireless technology. The battery life is 10 hours, but charging the headphones takes only two. With a circumference of 21 inches, the headband should fit most people – but the fabric is pliable enough to provide some leeway if your head is on the smaller or larger side. You can wash and dry the headphones in any household machine without damaging the speakers. Five colors are available.
In addition to their low price-point, the headphones are shipped free of charge to all U.S. customers. Returns are accepted within 30 days of the original order. Dormi is a Black- and female-owned business.
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The Kokoon Relax Headphones are a high-end option with a long list of special features to match. This model has EEG brainwave sensors that track your sleep quality to provide reports and tips for better sleep, which you can view on the MyKokoon smartphone app. These sensors also detect when you fall asleep and adjust the volume accordingly.
The Relax Headphones are an over-ear option with fabric-covered silicone cushions that feel soft and mold to your ear. They connect to your smartphone via bluetooth or the included AUX cable. Customers can choose to listen to sleep sounds from their favorite platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube. The MyKokoon app also offers proprietary sleep audio, guided meditations, and binaural soundscapes for an annual subscription fee. Active noise cancellation and isolation features ensure that even the lightest sleepers should have very few sleep interruptions. The headphones have a 13-hour battery life, and come with a USB charging cable.
Two colors are available: grey and black. Shoppers can purchase a double pack for a discount, and Kokoon ships free to all 50 states. Relax Headphones purchases come with a 30-night return period. A 1-year warranty is included with all headphone purchases.
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Many people have a hard time finding a pair of sleeping headphones that feel comfortable night after night. Our testers were impressed with the feel of QuietOn 3.1 Sleep Earbuds, which have an ergonomic design and thick foam cushioning to reduce swelling and irritation around your ears. You can choose from four cushion sizes — extra-small, small, medium, and large — to optimize the fit. Since there’s virtually no protrusion, these earbuds are especially well suited to side sleeping.
A new feature with the 3.1 models is “Journey to Quietude,” which gently transitions between hearing and noise-canceling modes. This may be less jarring than abruptly switching from the former to the latter. You don’t need a Bluetooth connection to use the earbuds, nor do they play music or white noise. A single charge allows the battery to run up to 28 hours.
QuietOn offers free worldwide shipping for the 3.1 Sleep Earbuds. You may return them for a full refund within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied. If you choose to keep the earbuds, they’re backed by a year of warranty coverage.
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Distinct materials, solid construction, and a wide selection of styles make the SleepPhones Wireless Bluetooth Sleep Headphones exceptionally comfortable for sleepers.
Two distinct fabrics are available for the headphones. SheepCloud Fleece is soft, warm, and fuzzy, making it well suited to colder climates; color options include gray, lavender, and black. SheepCloud Breeze is crafted for breathability and moisture-wicking, so it may appeal to athletes and hot sleepers; it comes in black, gray, orchid, and blue. Both fabrics are hypoallergenic and made of a blend of polyester and spandex. The fabric portion of the headband is machine washable once the electronic components are removed.
Three sizes are available for the headphones to ensure a comfortable fit. Ultra-slim, Bluetooth-enabled speakers rest inside the fabric band to deliver high-quality sound while reducing ambient noise. These headphones work with most Bluetooth-compatible devices within a 15- to 30-foot range. A rechargeable battery can play for up to 10 hours between charges, and a USB charger is provided with purchase. With their purchase, customers can also download sleep sounds and an iPhone app at no extra charge.
The SleepPhones Wireless Bluetooth Sleep Headphones come with a 1-year limited warranty and a 30-day return policy.
Best for Travel
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The Bluetooth Sound Therapy Eye Mask from Sharper Image is an innovative headphone set that doubles as a sleep mask. Sharper Image includes a storage bag that makes the headphones easy to pack and travel with.
This model has several notable features, including built-in calming sounds that let you use the headphones without connecting to a phone. Those sleepers looking to stream directly from their device can easily connect their headphones via Bluetooth. This set fits similarly to a headband and extends down your face to cover your eyes, helping to block out ambient light. The removable cover is quite soft and made from a micromink polyester fabric that’s quilted to feel plush. The adjustable velcro strap ensures a snug fit for most users.
The Sound Therapy Eye Mask charges via USB and lasts up to eight hours on one charge. Users can adjust the volume directly on the inside of the eye mask without having to access their phone or tablet. Sleepers using the included presets can choose between rain, stream, or ocean sounds.
Each Bluetooth Sound Therapy Eye Mask is backed by a 5-year warranty. Returns are accepted on new and unused items in their original packaging.
Best Ease of Use
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Noise-canceling headphones can be a useful investment, but some people find that they aren’t completely effective. These nighttime listeners are great candidates for the SoundOff Noise Masking Earbuds, which are designed to play pink noise while you sleep. Pink noise is like white noise, but without the high-frequency sounds that can be jarring or unpleasant. Many liken pink noise to ambient nature sounds such as falling rain or crashing waves. A chip embedded into each earbud provides the playback, so you won’t need a wi-fi connection to enjoy the pink noise.
The buds are wireless and shaped to fit over the ear without protruding, making them suitable for any sleep position. They are also lightweight and shouldn’t cause any discomfort while you sleep. A carrying case included with each purchase also makes the earbuds handy travel accessories during long flights or overnight stays in loud hotels. You can adjust the volume to eight different settings for optimal noise masking. The battery lasts 10 to 16 hours when fully charged, but SoundOff recommends charging them daily to ensure they’ll operate throughout the night whenever you use them.
In addition to sleeping, you can utilize the earbuds throughout the day. They are especially helpful if you want to reduce distractions while working in a noisy office. Each pair comes with a 30-day trial, during which you can test out the earbuds and return them for a full refund if you aren’t satisfied. Those who keep them also receive a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Best Active Noise Canceling
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Bose has earned a reputation for high-quality headphones that deliver crisp playback and effectively mask outside noise. The Sleepbuds II are the latest addition to the brand’s lineup, and one of Bose’s most advanced offerings to date. These wireless earbuds have a sleek, ergonomic profile and are intended to fit snugly inside your ear. Our testers changed positions with the earbuds in place and didn’t notice any jostling, and no protrusion means you can sleep comfortably on your side without irritation.
The Sleepbuds II exclusively play content from the Bose app, which features a library of more than 50 programs. Your options include white noise, ambient sounds, and naturescapes. The battery lasts up to 10 hours, so you may need to charge the earbuds daily. Your purchase includes a USB charger and a charging port that doubles as a storage case. Three pairs of silicone eartips — each in a different size — are also included.
While the Sleepbuds II are fairly expensive, Bose will price-match if you find them sold at a cheaper price-point through authorized retailers. You’ll also receive free 2-day shipping with your order. Returns are allowed within 90 days. If you keep the earbuds, you’ll also qualify for 1 year of warranty coverage.
When buying headphones for sleeping, quality and comfort are among the most important attributes. Since comfort is subjective, however, selecting the best option for you may require some research and consideration. Below, we’ll detail some of the factors that differ between headphones such as style, wiring, price, and performance.
A headphone’s style refers to its shape and how it fits onto or into your ears. Sleepers may find some styles more comfortable than others based on their personal preferences and sleep position.
Over-ear is a more traditional style. The headphones mold around the outside of the ear for a snug fit, while a solid band wraps around the top of the head to hold the speakers in place. Because this design tends to be bulky, it is not common in headphones for sleeping.
On-ear headphones are a lot like over-ear styles in that they rest outside of the ear. However, on-ear headphones tend to be a bit smaller and are positioned on the ear itself instead of cupping it. Because they are a bit more compact, they may be better suited to sleeping than over-ear models.
Often called earbuds, in-ear headphones sit in the ear canal. They are compact and can accommodate all sleep positions. However, some sleepers may not like the sensation of the headphones resting in their ear canal.
Headband and sleep mask headphones typically contain speakers encased in a swath of fabric that the sleeper can wear like a conventional garment. Since many of these models have extra padding around the ear, they can be exceptionally comfortable for side sleeping.
Shoppers can select between wired and wireless headphones, and each carries potential benefits and drawbacks.
Wired headphones connect to a smartphone, tablet, or other device using a cord. The cord could pose a strangulation risk, and it might be uncomfortable for sleepers who change positions frequently during the night. However, owners shouldn’t need to charge the headphones, and they’re compatible with most devices. Wired headphones also tend to be more budget-friendly.
Wireless headphones do not connect directly to a device to play sound. Instead, they typically use Bluetooth. The term “wireless” may be deceptive, however, since some of these headphones still have a wire connecting the earpieces to each other. Still, sleepers are much less likely to get tangled in the cord. Wireless headphones will need to be charged regularly and must be used with a compatible device.
The price-point of sleep headphones starts at less than $20 and can exceed $200. This large variation in price is determined largely on their technology.
Budget-friendly options typically get the job done, but they may not be as durable or advanced. The higher-priced options should have better sound clarity and balance. Some of the options with heftier price tags also have enhanced noise-blocking technology. The extra expense of high-end headphones may be justified for listeners who want exceptional audio quality and those who struggle to sleep due to ambient noise.
Stomach and back sleepers may be able to use virtually any style of headphones comfortably, though their sleep position will likely affect whether they prefer to place the cord of wired headphones in front of or behind their heads. Side sleepers typically have stronger preferences since the force of the pillow on the headphones could be uncomfortable with larger, bulkier models. Because of this, most side sleepers favor headbands, sleep masks, or other low-profile designs that don’t put too much pressure on their ears.
Sleepers typically prefer lightweight earphones. Heavier models may be more noticeable and less comfortable, especially when changing positions.
With wired models, the cord length may be critical. A longer cord will allow you to put more space between the headphones and your device, but it also leaves more length that you could get tangled up in should you toss and turn.
While some headphones come in just one size, many have multiple sizing options to accommodate different head and ear shapes. Finding the right fit can help your earphones stay put without sacrificing comfort.
A warranty policy adds an extra layer of protection if defects arise. Some sleep headphones have warranty policies while others do not. Most headphone warranties offer one to two years of protection.
Most headphones require regular cleaning, but the instructions for how to clean the headphones vary between manufacturers. Headbands and sleep masks are often washable after the speakers and other electronic parts have been removed. Others may be wiped down with an appropriate cleaning solution. Following the manufacturer’s care instructions can help you keep your sleep headphones hygienic without damaging them.
Headphones can improve sleep quality and minimize disruptions during the night. However, sleeping with headphones does have some potential drawbacks. Serious injury is extremely rare, but being aware of the risks can help you take steps to mitigate them.
Hearing impairment and/or loss: Loud noises can affect your hearing, so listening to music on a high volume could be problematic.
Otitis externa: Also known as “swimmer’s ear,” this condition occurs when the external ear canal becomes inflamed. Loud music and headphones protruding into the ear canal can cause otitis externa.
Earwax buildup: If the earphones form a tight seal over the ear canal, there may not be sufficient circulation for earwax to dissipate. This is especially common with earbuds. Over time, earwax could collect around the eardrum, which may be uncomfortable and, in some cases, require medical attention and treatment.
Distraction: While blocking out noise is often the goal of wearing earphones, it can also be a potential hazard since sleepers may be less likely to notice if there is an emergency.
Strangulation: Many sleep headphones use wires to connect to a device or to tether the earpieces to each other. These wires could wrap around the sleeper’s throat and block the airway.
Using headphones designed for sleeping can help limit these risks. Always be aware of their placement and remove them if you notice any discomfort. When in doubt, talk to your doctor to determine whether sleep headphones are a safe option for you.
While sleep headphones can help block noises that interfere with your slumber, they aren’t the only solution. Other options can also limit nighttime noises.
Earplugs: Earplugs have long been a popular solution for noisy situations. While sleepers won’t be able to listen to music, meditations, or sleep sounds, earplugs can be a convenient and cost-effective way to block out common disturbances, like snoring. Some models are also designed specifically for sleepers. High-end earplugs can be nearly as expensive as earphones, but budget-friendly options cost just pennies. However, keep in mind that some of the health issues associated with headphones – such as swimmer’s ear and earwax buildup – can also apply to earplugs.
White noise machines: White noise machines help drown out ambient noise by producing a sound many liken to radio or television static. Since white noise machines often have headphone jacks, many can be used with headphones.
Sound apps: Sound apps may feature sleep sounds, stories, meditations, and/or songs designed to help listeners relax and unwind. These sounds can also distract from some external noises, like cars passing. You can typically play sound apps through your device’s speaker, a separate speaker, or headphones.
Room modifications: While they’re a low-tech solution to reducing nighttime noise, simple room modifications can also be highly effective. Adding carpets and curtains can help muffle sounds for a more peaceful bedroom environment.
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