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Many sleepers rely on headphones that play music or soothing sounds as they wind down for bed. Listening to headphones can alleviate stress and lower one’s heart rate, allowing them to feel more relaxed as they prepare to fall asleep. A wide range of sleep-friendly wired and wireless headphone designs are available. Some sleepers prefer designs that fit around, on, or inside the ear, while others enjoy headbands or sleep masks outfitted with audio speakers that rest snugly over their face. Sleeping headphones priced at $30 or lower are widely available, as are more expensive models for those with a larger budget.
This guide will look at some of the most popular sleeping headphones designs, as well as potential safety concerns, shopping considerations, and our picks for the best lower- and higher-cost headphones for sleeping.
Like headphones designed for everyday use, sleeping headphones play music or sounds directly into the listener’s ear. What sets sleeping headphones apart from regular models is nightlong comfort; they are designed to remain in the listener’s ears for up to eight hours without causing soreness or irritation in the ears.
Some commonplace designs for sleeping headphones include:
Additionally, sleeping headphones may be wired, meaning that cords connect them to music players, or wireless, meaning they play music without a physical connection by receiving signals from the speaker or music-playing device.
In terms of sound playback, many sleeping headphones are ‘noise-cancelling.’ This means they eliminate — or significantly reduce — outside noise by fitting snugly into or around the ear. Additionally, some sleep-friendly headphones are designed to provide high-quality white noise and autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, sounds. White noise refers to random sound signals that produce soothing, ambient sounds that block outside noises. ASMR sounds, on the other hand, produce a tingling sensation in the ears that can help listeners relax and fall asleep more easily. Headphones designed for ASMR playback typically have high-quality microphones that reduce crackling or popping sounds.
Volume controls for most sleeping headphones are comparable to those of everyday headphones. However, it is considered unhealthy and potentially damaging to listen to music at a volume higher than 60 decibels (dB) for prolonged periods of time.
Although sleeping with headphones can improve sleep quality for some, there are certain health risks associated with using these devices. These risks include:
Despite these potential risks, it’s important to note that serious injuries involving sleeping headphones is extremely rare. By listening to music or sounds at a reasonable volume, removing headphones when discomfort occurs, and monitoring wire placement, you can greatly mitigate these risks and sleep in peace.
Next let’s look at some important factors to keep in mind when shopping for sleeping headphones and comparing different brands and models:
Now, let’s look at the top-rated headphones for sleeping according to customers and owners. The first table lists our top-ranked lower-cost models, which are all priced at $30 or less. Please note that customer satisfaction ratings are generated from verified customer and owner experiences.
|Model||ZENSHEEP Headphones Eye Mask||Sleep Headphones||KSC75 Titanium Headphones||Soft Silicon Headphones||Retractable Clip-On Headphones|
|Sizes||One size||One size||One size||One size||One size|
|Weight||2.5 oz.||0.3 oz.||2.9 oz.||0.3 oz.||1.3 oz.|
|Cord Length||5 ft.||5 ft.||4 ft.||4 ft.||4 ft.|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||79% (96 customer reviews)||84% (1,878 customer reviews)||82% (2,854 customer reviews)||81% (907 customer reviews)||81% (69 customer reviews)|
Now, let’s look at the five top-ranked sleeping headphones that are priced higher than $30.
|Model||SleepPhones||DT 770 Pro Headphones||QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones||HD 558 Audiophile Headphones||SE215 Sound Isolating Headphones|
|One size||One size||One size|
|Weight||1.6 oz (XS)|
2.5 ox (M)
3.2 oz. (XL)
|1.4 lbs.||10.6 oz.||1.4 lbs.||5.6 oz.|
|Cord Length||4 ft.||5.2 ft. (32 ohm)|
10 ft. (80 and 250 ohm)
|4 ft.||10 ft.||5 1/3 ft.|
|Warranty||1 year||2 years||1 year||2 years||2 years|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||79% (2,577 customer reviews)||91% (1,142 customer reviews)||90% (1,601 customer reviews)||93% (1,249 customer reviews)||84% (3,113 customer reviews)|
If headphones aren’t enough to help you fall asleep or you prefer not to wear them in bed, you may want to consider additional strategies for blocking out distracting noises during the night. Alternatives to sleeping headphones may include the following:
Conventional and Custom Earplugs: Conventional foam earplugs are an inexpensive alternative to sleeping headphones. Users simply twist them until they will fit into the ear canal; once in place, they will expand to create a tight, noise-blocking seal. Foam earplugs can usually be bought in bulk; a box of 100 pairs may cost as little as $10.
Additionally, earplug molding kits are available; these allow owners to create customized shapes for their earplugs based on the unique curves and contours of their ear canal. Expect to pay $10 to $20 for a molding kit that yields one pair of customized earplugs. Most kits feature how-to guides with step-by-step instructions.
White noise machines: Many sleepers rely on machines that produce white noise when they go to bed. These machines may produce other noise colors, as well. Pink noise, for example — which many listeners prefer over white noise — gradually decreases in volume per octave, which creates a balanced listening experience compared to the constant volume-per-octave of white noise. Other options include blue, red, and brown noise.
Most white noise machine models are equipped with speakers, as well as headphone jacks for more private listening. These machines typically cost less than $100, and are widely available through brick-and-mortar and online retailers. To learn more, please visit out White Noise Machine Reviews guide.
Apps: In lieu of a full machine, some sleepers enjoy white noise from downloadable apps that are compatible with smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices. These apps are often free, but rarely cost more than $2, and usually come with a wide variety of noise and ambient sound options to accommodate sleepers with different preferences. Some of the most popular white noise apps priced at $2 or less include:
ASMR YouTube videos: Those who find ASMR sounds soothing are in luck — YouTube offers an extensive collection of videos, playlists, and channel that offer ASMR programs. These are free to use, per the terms of the site, but there is one notable downside: most do not exceed one hour in length, making them less than ideal for those who prefer to listen to ASMR sounds all night long. Additionally, ASMR apps like Tingles and Love ASMR are available for smart devices.
For more information on strategies and accessories for blocking outside noise while you sleep, please visit the following pages on Tuck.com: