If you struggle to get good sleep, it might be worth investing in a pair of sleep headphones — listening to soothing music or relaxing sounds may help you get deeper rest. “Relaxing music triggers changes to the body that in many ways mimic a sleep state,” said Michael Breus, sleep medicine expert and the founder of The Sleep Doctor website. “A slower heart rate, slower breathing, lower blood pressure are all physiological changes that make possible the process of falling asleep and staying asleep.”
To help you find the best headphones for sleeping, we’ve highlighted several different types, including a few headband headphone options, Bluetooth headphones, and earbuds that nestle into your ear canal to block out ambient noise. Keep reading for deeper sleep.
What are the best headphones for sleeping?
Our top choice for sleep headphones are the Pixel Buds Pro, because of their versatility. They’re great for day and night, block outside noises with active noise canceling and offer great value for the price.
Best headphones for sleeping for 2023
Battery Life Rated up to 11 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint YesHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)
The Pixel Buds Pro wireless earbuds fit the bill for people who want a pair of quality headphones that are equally as functional during sleep as they are during the day. They have active noise cancellation that helps block distracting noises like snoring while you sleep. Paired with Google’s Silent Seal technology, the Pixel Buds’ ear tips work to enhance noise cancellation as they form a gentle seal that keeps quality sound in and environmental noises out.
Soundcore by Anker
The Soundcore by Anker Sleep A10 earbuds are small and lightweight. Unlike other, bulkier options, they fit completely in your ear, so you don’t have to worry about them shifting or falling out when you roll over at night. Fit is particularly important for side sleepers, who find that other earbuds for sleeping brush against their pillow and make a scratching noise.
If you don’t like the idea of wearing a headband to bed, the Bedphones Sleep Headphones are another made-for-sleep option that comes sans fabric. This sleeping headphone option features two ultrathin headphone speakers connected by a rubber-coated memory wire that’s fully adjustable so you can find your perfect earphone fit.
The QuietOn 3.1 earbuds use active noise cancellation and passive noise reduction to deliver some of the best noise-canceling performance we’ve tested. What look like wireless headphones in a charging case are small earbuds specifically designed to block noise while you sleep. They don’t play music or pair with Bluetooth; they function more like foam earplugs but are much more effective.
Most sleep headphones aren’t designed for side sleeping, but the Dormi Wireless Sleep Headphones function as a moisture-wicking, lightweight headband side sleepers can wear to bed so they can rest comfortably without an earbud pressing into their head. There are two thin speakers within the headband that line up with your ears and deliver surprisingly clear sound quality. The headband pairs with any Bluetooth device, boasts a 10-hour battery life, and even has a built-in mic so you can talk on the phone. It’s also machine washable; just make sure you take out all the electronics inside before you wash it..
If you really want to up your sleep quality, these sleep headphones combined with a sleep mask, from Lightimetunnel (formerly Watotgafer), are a double whammy. Equipped with flat headphones and an ergonomic eye design that doesn’t put too much pressure on your face, the setup effectively blocks out noise and light all at once. The flat headphones are tucked into a breathable, slow-rebound memory foam fabric that’s also designed to release tension and stress in your face so you can drift off to a more restful sleep.
The SoundOff Sleep Noise Masking Device is another option that’s similar to the QuietOn Sleep Earbuds in function. Like the QuietOn Sleep Earbuds, they play one sound: a pink noise that has an almost wavelike vibe. Pink noise is similar to white noise but with a smoother sound that hits the same notes as sounds you’d find in nature (wind, rain or waves). It’s supposed to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly and, in our experience, it really worked. The pink noise playing in the SoundOff device was soothing, calming and effective at blocking out snoring. We were able to get through two nights of sleep without needing a recharge.
The ultra-lightweight design and squishy silicone ear tips make these minimalistic earbuds for sleeping an excellent option for travel. The ear tips have an ergonomic double layer design that fits snugly in most ear canals to effectively drown out the noise around you, while the mini speaker in each earbud provides quality, balanced sound without too much bass.
The Hoomband Headband has two ultrathin, flat speakers that are placed under foam, so you can hear them but can’t feel them. The headband itself is made from a 3D mesh that’s soft, thin and helps regulate temperature so you don’t get too hot while you sleep.
How we test the best headphones for sleep
We looked at the following criteria when testing sleep headphones and earbuds for sleeping:
Noisecancellation: A snoring simulation was played at high volume near our bedside to test the headphones’ ability to block out environmental noises.
Comfort: Sleeping with too much pressure against the head can cause headaches. Headphones were tested in each sleeping position — side, back and stomach — to determine ear tip comfort, stableness of earbuds in the ear and how accommodating they felt from the perspective of different types of sleepers.
Soundquality: We tested headphones for clarity of sound. Crystal clear sound quality isn’t required for sleep headphones, but it should be up to par in order to minimize sudden changes in sound that can cause sleep disruption.
Price: We included a variety of headphones and earbuds for sleep that fall in different price categories, from wallet-friendly to cream of the crop, so most sleepers can find a good pair regardless of their budget.
Special features: We considered added features or perks that made headphones even more functional, such as a free audio library, Google assistant and machine-washability.
Factors to consider when choosing sleep headphones
Sure, any decent set of headphones can play music or meditations, but it’s the design that sets sleep headphones apart. Regular headphones can be bulky and uncomfortable to lie on, but sleep headphones are made with a minimal, barely there feel that lets you drift off to sleep while wearing them comfortably throughout the night. For the best sleep headphones, keep an eye out for these features:
A battery life of eight hours or longer.
Ergonomic, comfortable ear tips.
Flat, thin designs such as headband headphones.
Read more: How We Test Products and Services
How sound affects sleep
Sound has a significant influence on sleep quality, both negative and positive. “There’s data that suggests soothing, relaxing music can bring about these effects on you physically,” Breus said, going on to list:
A lower heart rate.
Lower blood pressure.
A quieted nervous system.
Reduced muscle tension.
Lowered stress and anxiety.
The release of sleep-friendly hormones, including serotonin and oxytocin, and a reduction in hormones like cortisol.
Breus went on to explain that “just like soothing sounds can mimic a sleep state, certain sounds signal an alarm for your brain (sirens, loud neighbors, weather etc.) so when you hear them, it can cause some level of anxiety. Anxiety is really the opposite of sleep.”
As a result, sleep headphones act as a good solution for people to listen to relaxing sounds while drowning out the noisy, distracting sounds that evoke anxiety and disrupt sleep.
Headphones for sleeping FAQ
Is it OK to wear headphones while sleeping?
Yes. There’s no harm in wearing headphones while sleeping, just as long as your earbuds are comfortable enough to keep from disrupting you during the night. Listening to music or a relaxing podcast before you go to bed can lower your heart rate and also keep your mind from thinking about your daily stressors.
What type of headphones are most comfortable to sleep in?
Some of the best headphones for sleep include:
Pixel Buds Pro
Bedphones Sleep Headphones
Can sleeping with headphones cause headaches?
If you’re wearing improper headgear while you sleep, it’s possible it could lead to an external compression headache. That’s caused by having too much pressure around your head and can be avoided if you use earbuds meant for sleeping that fit snug in your ear.
What are the best earbuds to drown out snoring?
The Quiet.On 3.1 sleep buds are pricey, but they do an impressively good job at blocking out sound, including loud snoring. They passed all our tests, including a snoring simulation and longevity test.