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Sleeping With Headphones – Things You Should Know

Notice: If you’re looking for the steamy romance novel with the same name, you’ve come to the wrong website!

But if you’re wondering if you can sleep with headphones on, welcome. We’re going to explore the whys and hows of sleeping with headphones in this article. We’ll also look at the Best Headphones And Earbuds For Sleeping so that you can see the vast range of products out there to find the perfect pair for your needs.

On top of that, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of wearing headphones when sleeping. There are some risks, but also some real benefits to discover. So let’s get started…


Why Sleep With Headphones On?

If you’ve come here by happy accident, you might be wondering why in the world anyone would want to sleep with earphones on. After all, even when you’re awake, wearing headphones or earbuds for long periods can get uncomfortable. Your ears can get hot, and the pressure can be a real bother.

Well, some people have bigger problems to deal with, like a snoring world champion for a bed partner, insomnia, loud environmental noises, or even PTSD. For people in these unfortunate circumstances, headphones can be an incredible solution.

Whether they use them to listen to music, soothing noises, or to simply block out the noise around them, many people find headphones a lifesaver. We’ll talk more about the specific benefits of sleep with headphones on later. But first, we need to tackle a tiny little myth.

Can you Learn in Your Sleep?

Can you Learn in Your Sleep

Sleep learning, also known as hypnopedia (like memorizing the encyclopedia while you’re hypnotized), has been used in entertainment for years. Even the idea that you can learn by sticking a textbook under your pillow has been put forward by medical experts such as Garfield.

To date, no concrete proof has been found that people can learn new information while sleeping. So if you’re thinking about learning Esperanto while you sleep, think again. And if you didn’t do that assigned reading, playing an audiobook to yourself the night before your test is not going to help.

But there is one thing that does work…

Although it seems we can’t learn new information while we sleep, we can reinforce our memories while we sleep. According to different studies such as Boosting Vocabulary Learning by Verbal Cueing During Sleep, repeatedly hearing things we’ve already learned while we sleep can help us to remember them better when we wake.

In other words, playing those recordings of conjugating French verbs while you sleep might help you remember them better. Only if you already learned and understood them, though. But still, that’s amazing and another interesting reason why you should wear headphones when sleeping.

How to Sleep With Headphones

Big, bulky over-ear headphones seem like quite a challenge to sleep with. The big ear cups look like they’ll press on your ears uncomfortably. If you move around in your sleep a lot, won’t they just fall off? And won’t earbuds hurt your ears if you sleep on them?

These are a few of the concerns shared by most people when they think about sleeping with headphones on. And the truth is that most of them are well-founded. At the same time, there are ways to sleep with headphones on that will make them more comfortable and stay in place better.

Change your Sleeping Position

Sleeping on your side with a regular pillow is going to push that headphone or earbud into your ear, making it hot and uncomfortable. But if you can sleep in a different position, like flat on your back, or even flopped on your front, you can avoid that discomfort.

But we know it’s not so easy to change the way you sleep. You’ve probably been sleeping that way your whole life! Whether or not you can do it, changing your pillow might be a much better solution.

Get a New Pillow

Regular pillows are rectangular and full of stuffing, so there’s nowhere for your bulky headphones to hide. Luckily there are other types of pillows out there that you can get a hold of, which will make a big difference.

First up…

There are pillows with holes, such as The Original Pillow with a Hole – Your Ear’s Best Friend out there that are designed for people with ear pain and other ear conditions. They have one or two holes in them where you can fit your ear when you lie on your side.

Those holes are usually large enough for a headphone to hide down in them with no problems. This will take most of the pressure off your ear and make sleeping with your headphones possible.

Option 2…

A slightly cheaper and way more widely available type of pillow you could also try out is the classic donut pillow, like the DMI Donut Pillow and Seat Cushion. These are normally designed for sitting on when your bottom is, let’s say, not in the best of shape.

However, there’s no reason why they can’t be used for your head. The holes in these pillows are large and will therefore fit larger headphones.

A 3rd solution…

A travel pillow, aka a neck pillow, such as the World’s Best Feather Soft Microfiber Neck Pillow. If you don’t already have one of them, these U-shaped pillows are great for supporting your head when you’re forced to sleep sitting up, like on an airplane.

But they can also be used for support when you want to lie flat. In that position, the neck hole becomes a spacious cavity for your headphones.

Get Special Headphones

While pillows and sleeping positions can make any headphones more comfortable to sleep in, they don’t solve all the problems. Headphones can still slip off when you move. They can also be pretty uncomfortable to wear all night. So if you want to sleep with headphones on, there are special models to help you.

Different Types of Headphones for Sleeping With

Different Types of Headphones

Of course, you can try sleeping in the headphones you already own. But be warned. Over-ear phones can be too bulky and get in the way or get knocked off easily. Earbuds can hurt after a while, and these too can slip out of your ears without much effort.

Well, guess what? Earphone manufacturers have already thought of all that and have some new products designed for you to wear while you sleep.

Headband Headphones

One of the best options for headphones to sleep with are headband headphones, like the very comfortable Sleep Headphones Headband. If you’ve never heard of them, they are exactly what they sound like. They come with a stretchy, wide cloth band like a regular hairband. But they have headphones built-in.

Most connect through Bluetooth, so it’s super easy to connect to the music or sounds on your phone’s media player. They normally have controls on some part of the band, like the forehead, so you can change tracks without accidentally mashing any buttons.

Now, the speakers in these things are not going to be the best. And the positioning of the speakers won’t be perfect for your ears. This might be a good thing, though, since the less-clear sound will help you focus less on the details of your music and more on the general soothing atmosphere.

Eyemask Headphones

Eyemask headphones, such as the YUJUNBH Headband Wireless Stereo Bluetooth Earphone Sleep Mask, are almost the same thing as headband headphones. There’s one very major, very obvious difference, though. They are designed to cover your eyes and block out all light.

This can be extremely helpful for very light sleepers but also great for sleep partners with different schedules. If your partner has to get up super early for work and has to turn on the lights and make noise, eyemask headphones could be a real godsend.

But there are some downsides to discuss…

Most of these headphones are priced well under $50. So they’re cheap, but that can also mean the speakers aren’t great. Also, to keep the bulk down, they usually have pretty unimpressive battery power. Normally they will help you get to sleep but won’t be able to play music or other tracks all night long.

Finally, this is something that wraps around your head and face, which could be uncomfortable, especially on hot, sticky nights.

True Wireless Earphones

The latest and greatest in earbud technology is to have absolutely no wires whatsoever. True wireless earphones fit either into your ear canals as earbuds, or they fit into the foldy bits of the outside of your ear, aka the concha. The Anker Soundcore Life P2 True Wireless Earbuds are excellent and highly recommended.

These are still technically in-ear earphones but aren’t buds that will stick into your ear canals. For that reason, they can be a whole lot more comfortable.

These Bluetooth-compatible earphones have a few things in common…

They’re generally a bit to a lot more expensive than the headbands and facemasks, but they also offer better sound. They can have passive noise isolation or even active noise cancellation. With ANC, you can simply just turn on the noise cancellation mode to block out outside sounds. You don’t need to have any music on.

These earphones also normally have enough charge to get the job done for a satisfying 8 hours of sleep. The downside is that they’re in your ears, and for some people, that’s not an option. Maybe you can convince your partner to wake up in the middle of the night and pull them out for you?

Of course, you can always try wired earbuds or big bulky over-ear headphones. But the wires can wrap around you and pull out the buds, or worse. And big ear cups can get in the way of a comfortable night’s sleep, even with a great pillow.

Benefits of Wearing Headphones While You Sleep

Benefits of Wearing Headphones

So what does sleeping with headphones do for you, anyway?

We briefly mentioned some of the reasons why people might want to do it. Now here’s a list of the benefits of sleeping in headphones can provide for you:

  • Headphones can block out loud noises in your environment, such as traffic, a party next door, or the noises of other people in your house.
  • They can protect you from a noisy sleeping partner. Active noise cancellation can block out snoring!
  • The average person takes seven minutes to fall asleep, but for sufferers of insomnia, that can stretch to hours! Soothing music or white noise tracks can help you to relax and fall asleep quickly, so you get more quality sleep each night.
  • PTSD sufferers can get some relief from listening to comforting, relaxing music.
  • There’s evidence that the things you focus on right before falling asleep get remembered better. You could use this to your advantage by listening to study material right before you fall asleep.
  • You can enjoy music or other audio without having to use speakers. No more bother other people!

Issues with Wearing Headphones to Bed

Wearing headphones can be problematic no matter what time of day it is. They can be hot, block moisture and airflow, or even damage your hearing. The problem when you’re asleep is that you won’t necessarily notice if something is going wrong. Then you can wake up with ear problems or other issues like:

  • Wearing headphones to bed can make wax build up in your ears and even partially block your hearing. You may need to go to a specialist to have the wax removed.
  • Sweat and other moisture can be blocked by headphones. This can cause infections in your ears which can be painful and even lead to permanent damage.
  • Hearing loss can be caused by listening to music that’s too loud. Before you sleep, it doesn’t make sense to blast your tunes, but the volume could get turned up by accident when you roll over.

If you experience any discomfort or more serious symptoms from wearing headphones while you sleep, take a break. See a doctor if the problems seem serious. Going to bed with headphones may be a great help for some restless nights, but it shouldn’t be something you do every single day.

Noise Cancellation and Safety

We want to say a special word about active noise-canceling headphones. While they can help block out irritating sounds that keep you from sleeping, they can also be a risk.

They can keep you from hearing important warning sounds like an alarm or a house fire. If you use them, make sure you have a sleep partner who is going to be alerted to danger and who can wake you up.

What to Listen to When You Sleep With Headphones

If you can’t sleep but like the idea of some soothing audio, here are some ideas:

  • Calm, soothing music
  • Meditation chants
  • Natural sounds like babbling brooks and light rain
  • Whale music
  • White noise
  • Dreadfully boring lectures
  • …and more

Need Great Headphones for Sleep or Something Else?

We have a nice selection of reviews to help you with your decision making. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones And Earbuds For Sleeping, the Most Comfortable Earbuds, the Best Headphones Under $100, the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds, the Best Bone Conduction Headphones, and the Most Comfortable Headphones you can buy in 2023.

You may also enjoy our handy guides on In-Ear vs. On-Ear vs. Over-Ear HeadphonesOpen Back vs Closed Back HeadphonesWhy Are My Headphones So QuietHow to find the right ear tips for you, and How to Keep Your Earbuds From Falling Out for more useful information.

Sleeping With Headphones – Final Thoughts

Wearing headphones to bed can be a great way to fight insomnia or block out chainsaw snores. You can find headphones that are designed for sleeping which are super comfortable.

You can use these alone or in combination with a pillow that has space for your headphones, so they don’t press uncomfortably on your ears. But if they ever get uncomfortable, take a break for a while.

Try it out and see if you like it. Your current headphones might work, or you might need special new ones. But either way, it could be worth it. What’s more valuable than a great night’s sleep?

Until next time, sweet dreams.

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About Corey Hoffman

Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in numerous bands over the years, some good, some not so good. He has also written countless songs and recorded five albums in professional studios across America. Today he is a hobby musician but still loves the guitar after over 15 years of playing.

He considers his writing as a way to share what he has learned over the decades with younger generations ad always can't wait to get his hands on the latest gear.

He lives just outside New York with his wife Barbara and their two German Shepherds, Ziggy and Iggy.

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