Sleep Headphones(earphones) – A guide for the BEST nights sleep

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Do you ever find yourself lying in bed for hours willing yourself to sleep?

Are you constantly reaching for your phone to see how many hours it is until you need to get up?

A warm glass of milk or counting those white fluff balls jumping over an imaginary fence just isn't cutting it?

If the above scenarios sound all too familiar, you may benefit from listening to some soothing music, binaural beats or even some meditation courses to gently lull you from the conscious to the unconscious.

But, how are you going to fall asleep with chunky headphones covering your ears? What if you like sleeping on your side?

In this article we answer all the questions about what you need know when looking for the perfect set of headphones to fall asleep with. We identify which headphones you can sleep in, and the features you should be looking for. We will also explore if you should consider earbuds for sleeping rather than headphones.

By the end, our goal is for you to know which headphones (or earphones) are going to get you the BEST nights sleep.

Why is getting a good sleep important? 

Before we get into the technical side of things, we thought it would be important to understand why it is so important that you get a good nights rest.

When you go to sleep, the body goes into repair and grow mode. The body restores, rejuvenates and grows muscles, tissue and hormones during this period. A good nights sleep will get you ready to take on the next day. Without these long periods of rest, the body would be in a continuous maintenance mode and would suffer from fatigue and be overworked.

Not only does sleep help refresh the body, it can also help to prevent disease.

Did you know studies have shown a lack of sleep has been shown to be linked to diseases such as diabetes, dementia, heart disease and even obesity? In a review of 28 existing studies, it was established that permanent night shift employees had a 29% greater chance of developing obesity when compared with employees on a rotating shift.

As you can appreciate it is little wonder why we value our downtime so greatly and why sleep is a critical part of our daily lives.

Benefits of listening to music to sleep

Now we know why it is important you get your beauty sleep, let's explore why listening to music is the best way for you to get a good night's rest.

Quick to Sleep

If you are the type to be physically exhausted at days end, but just as your head hits the pillow your mind starts to race, then listening to relaxing music can help you with this struggle.

The soft beats of rhythmic music helps keep your mind off that ever growing to-do list. Try to think of it like a mindfulness exercise. Instead of thinking about what happened during the day (or what you need to do tomorrow), you can focus on the music. Focus on how the music makes your body feel. And before you know it, you won't even hear the music and will have drifted off into a relaxing sleep.

PRO TIP - Before you put your headphones on, list out all your tasks and errands that you need to do in a list and place it by your bedside table. This way your mind won't be preoccupied with what you need to remember, and you can focus on the important things. Like getting a good night's rest. 

Better Sleep Quality

Not only does listening to music help you 'get' to sleep, but it can also help increase the quality of your sleep throughout the night.

If you begin to make a habit of listening to your favorite relaxing music before you go to sleep, it actually conditions your body to expect sleep. Every time your brain hears the music it will start signalling the necessary parts of the body to prepare for sleep (more detail in the next section). In turn, you will receive a better quality nights rest because your body has received a head start in preparing for the night ahead.

Another benefit is you are less likely to wake during the night and will have an uninterrupted sleep.

Relaxation and Hormone Production

Did you know that if you listen to a song that mirrors the beat of your resting heart rate, your body will naturally sync with the beat? This synchronicity makes you enter a relaxation mode and releases the feel good hormone - serotonin. The increased levels of serotonin in your body makes it easier for you to fall asleep.

Types of Headphones

Now we know why and how music helps us achieve a good nights rest, let's have a look at the different types of sleep headphones you can use.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

When you first think of headphones for the purpose of sleeping, your mind immediately jumps to noise cancelling headphones. This is because many individuals suffering from sleep troubles usually have issues with environmental noise like snoring of a loved one, or the constant drone of the airplane.

If environmental noise is your source of your sleep woes, then noise cancelling headphones may be your solution. 

There are some unique features to look for when shopping for noise cancelling headphones. Have you ever noticed when looking at headphone features that some say noise cancelling, where as other's may say noise isolating? Both features are for the same purpose (eliminating environmental noise), however they achieve it with different technologies.

Noise isolating headphones block out environmental noise by creating a seal around your ear and isolate you from the external noise. Of course everyone's ears are different, and there is only so many designs a company can create so it is hard to guarantee complete noise cancellation.

Whereas noise cancelling headphones use built-in microphones to listen to the external noise and match the sound with internal inverse waves which are played while you listen to your music. The inverse waves effectively 'cancel' out the environmental noise. This technology is most effective when the external noise is constant (such as the drone of an airplane or noisy air conditioners). Any sharp sudden noises won't be matched and/or cancelled out.


  • perfect for instances when environmental noise is a distraction when you are trying to sleep. 
  • eliminating external noise means you can listen to the soothing beats of your music at lower levels. This means you are less likely to be jolted out of your light sleep


  • can be bulky and uncomfortable - especially if you have a preference to sleep on your side
  • noise cancelling headphones generally require batteries to power the technology, which adds to the bulk and you will have to recharge your headphones
  • can be a nuisance if you twist and turn in your sleep

Headband Headphones

Do you prefer to sleep on your side? Or maybe you find just as you are getting to sleep, the bulkiness of headphones makes you wake up again? Well, we may have the perfect solution for you in the way of flat headphones for sleeping. Yes that's right - FLAT!

They are called headband headphones and they are essentially a soft material headband with speakers built into the material. The idea is you can comfortably wear the headband to sleep all night while listening to your favorite soothing music/audiobook/guided meditation, etc...

Of course you won't receive the best quality sound, as there are physical barriers (fabric) between the speakers and your ears, but they are extremely comfortable and great for side-sleepers.


  • ideal for individuals who like to sleep on their side or who toss and turn in their sleep
  • very comfortable
  • can be worn all night
  • compatible with most types of music players with a headphone jack (3.5mm)
  • comes in a wireless option (bluetooth option)


  • won't receive mind-blowing sound
  • maybe irritating on a hot night

Earbuds for sleeping

earbuds sleep

Another option you could consider for sleeping headphones are earbuds.

Earbuds can sometimes be seen as a combination of the two types of headphones we looked at above. This is because they have the advantage of not being bulky and annoying (good for side-sleepers), and some earbuds even have noise isolating features to block out the external noise.

Many earbuds also have the added advantage of being wireless, which is great for those that toss and turn throughout the night.


  • small and compact means if you turn your head while sleeping you won't be woken up
  • many earbuds come with wireless options


  • can potentially get lost at night (fall out)


Before you jump out and buy your first pair of sleeping headphones, there are some warnings we think you should be aware of.

  • The health of your ears is critical. Your ears need to breathe. This is particularly relevant to prolonged uses of earbuds. Because earbuds block off a lot of the natural pathway of the ear as well as placing pressure on the inner parts of your ear, we recommend regular breaks between uses. If you are at all worried about the health of your ears, please see your local professional doctor.
  • Strangulation and choking hazards is a major concern when using headphones with wires. Especially if you tend to turn around in your sleep. If this is a major concern, we recommend using wireless devices. 
  • Build up of wax is also another concern to look out for when using headphones/earbuds for sleep. Ear wax is a natural defense mechanism the body uses to protect the ear. Prolonged use of headphones can cause an unnatural build up of wax in the ear. Therefore we recommend you clean your ears regularly to avoid any occurrences.


Everyone has different issues when it comes to attaining that elusive good nights sleep. Hopefully after reading this article you now know which type of headphones you need to help you get that good night's rest.

If you have any questions let us know in the comments below...

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