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Is it Bad to Sleep with AirPods in?

Intuitively, sleeping in AirPods would seem like a bad idea. Just ask your mum or dad what they think, and you can bet your bottom dollar; they’ll give you a list of dire consequences if you do.

Now, we’ve all unintentionally fallen asleep with our AirPods in at some point. It happens, and I know I certainly have. However, there are plenty of people who intentionally do this. So, firstly why is that, and is it bad to sleep with AirPods in regularly?

Let’s take a closer look at each of these questions, in turn, starting with…

Is it Bad to Sleep with AirPods in


Why Do People Sleep in AirPods?

As mentioned, there are several reasons why people sleep with AirPods in their ears.

Noise Cancelling

One of the most common reasons for sleeping in AirPods or AirPod Pros is to cancel outside noise. As more and more people have increasingly migrated to larger towns and cities, the problem of noise pollution has grown. If you live in an urban environment, you’ll know how it feels. 

How many times have we been woken by a screeching siren, people shouting in the street, or banging doors in your apartment block?

A great way to block out these annoying sounds that ruin an otherwise sound slumber is to wear earbuds. Even better, these days, you can use noise-canceling AirPods that help to significantly reduce these outside disturbances. Who wouldn’t want that, right?

Improved Relaxation

Another common reason for sleeping in AirPods is also related to sleep. Let me explain.

Rather than wanting to just cut out external noise, some find it much easier to fall asleep with soothing music playing in the background. It’s not something I do, but if listening to the sounds of the sea or Mumford and Sons get you to sleep, I can see the point. 

Regardless, whatever you choose to listen to, there’s plenty of research pointing to the relaxing nature of music. There is no doubt that the brain will most likely release extra Serotonin to help you better relax.

For people suffering from insomnia, or those who just find it hard to get to sleep in the first instance, it’s a cool trick. But, you if choose to do this, is it bad to sleep with AirPods in regularly? Why is that? And finally, are there any better alternatives to keeping earbuds in all night?

Problems From with Sleeping in AirPods

Let’s take a look at some of the problems you may encounter if you regularly sleep with AirPods in.

Excessive Ear Wax

This is the most common side effect of regularly sleeping in earbuds, and its importance shouldn’t be underestimated. The results might even end up with you making a costly trip to your physician. Not a happy prospect for either you or your wallet.

Ear wax is produced to lubricate the ear and to prevent your ears from becoming dry. Ear wax also serves as a protective layer that stops dirt and debris from falling deeper into the ear and thus causing potential damage.

Under normal circumstances, any excess will work its way out of the ear. However, if you wear AirPods for extended periods, it can compact the wax deep into your ear and cause a buildup over time.

So, why is this bad?

It’s because once you get wax buildup, it can impact your hearing. It can also cause Tinnitus, which is a ringing in your ears. Even worse, it could even affect your balance. 

If you already have an issue with excessive ear wax, the above reasons are even more important to consider. In this instance, you might want to revisit the amount of time you use your earbuds.

Skin Damage

Skin Damage

The skin on the inside of our ears is relatively sensitive and is not designed to have something rubbing against it. If you keep your earbuds in for too long, it can cause chaffing and damage. The skin will become inflamed and irritable. Ill-fitting AirPods are likely to exacerbate this. Therefore, you should ensure that you use the right size ear tips. 

AirPods come with three different sizes of tips so just make sure that you use the most suitable one for your size of ear. This way, you can more easily limit any potential damage through excess rubbing and scraping. 

Other solutions…

If you find your AirPods are still uncomfortable, it’s possible to buy memory foam ear tips. These may provide a better fit and prevent any unnecessary ear damage.

Finally, if you have dry skin inside your ears, you might be tempted to apply a small amount of moisturizer to the inside of the ear. However, strong the temptation, don’t. The fact is that this can cause even more problems. 


Wearing AirPods for prolonged periods may cause moisture to become trapped in your ears. Wherever there is a buildup of moisture, you increase the likelihood of infections. This is particularly the case for your ears.

The moisture provides a platform for an infection. If you do get an infection, your ears will become inflamed and itchy. They may also become painful, and there’s a chance that you could also suffer from impaired hearing.

What to do?

This kind of condition could be confused with skin damage caused by dryness. This means a potential trip to your doctor to diagnose what’s going on. The treatment will most likely include the use of antibiotic ear drops and another unwanted medical bill.

One more thing to consider is that if you live in a humid climate, it’s something to be even more aware of. To prevent infection, it’s very important to keep your ears dry. 

Hearing Damage

Impaired hearing is most likely to be caused by an infection. However, if you regularly sleep with your AirPods in, you have to seriously consider the longer-term impacts of hearing loss due to the potential constant exposure to noise. This is, of course, if you set your music to play all through the night.

Simply put, our ears are not designed for an environment with continuous noise in it. We all need times of quiet for our bodies, including our ears, to recover.

There are degrees to which damage might occur. It’s common sense that the louder the music then, the more likely problems will develop. Similarly, the longer you listen to music, then the greater potential for issues.


If you are sleeping in your earbuds, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be listening to Metal at high volumes. However, it is still worth thinking about the nighttime volume of the music you play. It’s best to minimize these risks where ever you can.

AirPod Damage

If you still decide to sleep in your AirPods, you should also consider that there’s a much greater chance of damaging them. 

If you’re a restless sleeper, the earbuds could easily fall out and possibly onto the floor, where they could subsequently be stepped on. There’s also the possibility of them getting lost somewhere. 

Alternatives to AirPods

Alternatives to AirPods

So, you now know the downsides to wearing AirPods when sleeping. But, if you’re someone who needs music or background noise to fall asleep, there are options.

Bedside Alarm

A good old-fashioned bedside alarm with a modern twist might be one solution. If you like listening to music before you sleep, then how about using one of these? They can be left playing on a low volume and can also be programmed to switch off after a set time.

The new style of bedside alarms is Bluetooth-compatible and allows you to play MP3s. Very handy. And, they can still wake you up old-school style. Your parents would approve.

A bedside alarm is a great alternative to AirPods. But, if you share your bed with a partner, they may not be entirely suitable. 

Pillow Speaker

An alternative to the bedside alarm is a pillow speaker. No, this isn’t a normal pillow with a speaker in it. It’s a slimline Bluetooth speaker that you can simply slip under your pillow. 

These have the advantage of being closer to you than a bedside alarm, so you can use them at a lower volume. If you live in a shared house, the noise should be low enough to not disturb your housemates. However, if you share a bed, it still might be too loud. Then again, it might not be.

Sleep Headphones

I’m a big fan of these, and here’s why. Sleep Headphones are designed specifically for sleeping in. They are very slim and stay securely in place during sleep. 

Furthermore, they allow you to listen to music without disturbing anyone and come without all the potential disadvantages of AirPods. And they are fine for side-sleepers, too. 

Now, as if that wasn’t enough, they also cut out a lot of external noise when the music is off. Plus, they have a blindfold which cuts out light pollution too. What’s not to like?

Looking For Ways to Listen to Music When You Sleep?

We can help with that. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones And Earbuds For Sleeping, the Best Soundproof Curtains for Noise Reduction, the Best Bluetooth Speakers with Alarm Clocks, the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds, as well as the Best Noise Isolating Earbuds you can buy in 2023.

Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best AirPods Alternative, the Best Apple AirPods Pro Alternatives, the Best iPhone Earbuds, the Most Comfortable Earbuds, the Best Wireless Earbuds For Small Ears, and the Most Comfortable Headphones currently on the market.

Is it Bad to Sleep with AirPods in – Final Thoughts

So, honestly, is it bad to sleep wearing AirPods? I think it is. There’s no doubt that there are potential concerns to doing this. It’s understandable why people may still want to do it. However, there are decent alternatives that make much more sense.

One last thing to consider is that wearing AirPods at night could be masking other issues, such as insomnia or problems simply getting to sleep in the first place. If this is the case, I’d suggest that it’s probably worth putting some time and effort into addressing these issues first.

Until next time, take care, sleep well, and happy listening. 

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About Joseph L. Hollen

Joseph is a session musician, writer, and filmmaker from south Florida. He has recorded a number of albums and made numerous short films, as well as contributing music to shorts and commercials. 

He doesn't get as much time to practice and play as he used to, but still manages (just about!) to fulfill all his session requests. According to Joseph, it just gets harder as you get older; you rely on what you learned decades ago and can play without thinking. Thankfully that's what most producers still want from him.

He is a devout gear heat and has been collecting musical instruments all his life. As his wife, Jill, keeps on saying, "You're very good at buying nice instruments, but terrible at selling them!".

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