Falling and staying asleep can be more difficult than you’d like. Between the stress of the day, the to-do lists mounting in your mind, and the sirens or street traffic outside, there are all sorts of sounds and mind chatter that can pollute the quiet calm you need. Wearing earplugs can help, but some people find listening to music, audio stories, podcasts, or even white noise or specialized sleep sounds is the best way to block out the distracting soundtrack of life and create the relaxing haven you need for sleep.
Wearing conventional headphones in bed can be uncomfortable. If you are a side sleeper, the pressure of lying atop something sticking in or over your ear can be extremely uncomfortable — if not dangerous. Even if you sleep on your back or stomach, regular headphones or earbuds can get tangled up in bedsheets or fall out, especially types with cords or poorly-fitting designs. However, there are earbuds and headphones designed especially for sleep, as well as some regular models that do tend to work well in bed.
Sleep headphones are typically one of two designs — a traditional earbud style that goes in your ear canal or a headband style that wraps around your head and ears, encircling them with fabric and positioning embedded speakers near the ear canal. The former can be advantageous for those who need additional noise blocking or who want to use the earbuds outside the bedroom, whereas headband styles tend to be most comfortable for sleeping on your side and they tend to stay in place better than earbuds if you toss and turn at night.
We sourced dozens of the most popular sleep earbuds and sleep headphones, as well as traditional earbuds that work well for sleeping, and evaluated them based on comfort, function, value, features, noise-blocking effectiveness, versatility, sound quality, and durability. After weighing the pros and cons of each, we selected the eight best sleep earbuds and sleep headband headphones below.
Though expensive, the Bose QuietComfort Noise-Canceling Earbuds are a premium product that certainly earn their hefty price tag. These wireless earbuds are not specifically designed for sleep, but they are slim enough that even side sleepers should find minimal — if any — protrusion and pressure when lying against a pillow. The Bose QuietComfort Noise-Canceling Earbuds can be used in or outside the bedroom and deliver on the superior audio quality Bose is known for. With active noise canceling, the Bose QuietComfort Noise-Canceling Earbuds help block disruptive sounds while playing crystal clear audio. Our only gripe is that the runtime is only six hours, so they may run out of juice during the night. That said, the case itself holds additional power, so you can always recharge if you wake up.
The QuietOn 3 Active Noise-Canceling Earbuds are different from standard earbuds in that they don’t play music or audio of any kind. In fact, they don’t even produce white noise. Instead, they provide unparalleled active noise canceling to create the truly silent sleep oasis you may be looking for to fall asleep. Featuring by far the slimmest and most comfortable design, the completely wireless QuietOn 3 Active Noise-Canceling Earbuds are the only sleep earbuds we tried that not only stayed in place all night but provided absolutely zero discomfort when sleeping. After inserting them, you forget they are in, save for the fact that the world around you is suddenly blissfully silent. If you’re looking to block out every noise rather than listen to lullabies, the QuietOn 3 Active Noise-Canceling Earbuds are the best choice.
While you can’t play music or your favorite podcasts or audiobooks through the Bose Sleepbuds II, you are treated to relaxing and soothing sleep sounds designed to mask disruptive noises and help you fall and stay asleep. With the companion app, users can select from 50 different sounds to serve as the relaxing sleep soundtrack, including natural sounds, white noise sounds, and other calming audio tracks. The Bose Sleepbuds II have a 10-hour run time and the case itself holds enough power for three full charges.
If you prefer traditional earbuds, the MAXROCK Sleep Earplugs are wired and connect right to your phone or audio device. Though the sound quality isn’t the best, the MAXROCK Sleep Earplugs are very inexpensive and fairly comfortable. They are made from squishy, flexible silicone, which enables them to easily conform to your ear canal without protruding significantly and bothering your ear. In this way, they sort of double as
If the Bose QuietComfort Noise-Canceling Earbuds are a little out of your price range, we recommend the Skullcandy Push Active True Wireless Earbuds. Although they don’t have active noise canceling, these completely wireless earbuds have exceptional audio and stay in place no matter how much you toss and turn. This is due to the clip design, which secures the earbuds in place. The earbuds do protrude somewhat, which may be problematic for some side sleepers, but they have a fairly slim profile. Our favorite sleep feature is that the Skullcandy Push Active True Wireless Earbuds are voice-controlled, meaning you can ask the headphones to skip tracks, start a song over, play something entirely different, or even call a friend without needing to use your phone and expose your eyes to disruptive lights and screens. Lastly, you get an impressive 44 hours of runtime between the earbuds and case.
At a remarkably low price point, the MUSICOZY Sleep Headphones Bluetooth Sport Headband is a fantastic option for good wireless headband headphones for sleep. The headband is made from a soft and stretchy spandex-nylon blend fabric with mesh. It is breathable and conforms seamlessly to your head, staying in place without squeezing too tight. The product is also designed to be worn during workouts, which speaks to its ability to wick sweat and moisture and stay in place. If you do decide to use them outside the bedroom, the headphones are waterproof, with an IPX6 waterproof rating, meaning you can wear them even on rainy runs. The MUSICOZY Sleep Headphones Bluetooth Sport Headband features a 10-hour runtime, Bluetooth connectivity, enhanced bass, and hands-free talking on the phone should you want to call a loved one as you’re lying in bed winding down for the night.
With the MUSICOZY Sleep Headphones Bluetooth Headband, you get two things in one — sleep headphones and a light-blocking sleep eye mask. Featuring the latest V5.2 technology, this MUSICOZY sleep headphones and eye mask use Bluetooth to pair with any smartphone or tablet within a 33-foot range so you can choose your most soothing playlist, audio tracks, or bedtime story to lull you to sleep. Compared to many headband-style sleep headphones, the MUSICOZY Sleep Headphones Bluetooth Headband has surprisingly clear and full audio, with decent bass and treble. At a very affordable price point, this is a great option for side sleepers or travelers as it is light, flexible, soft, and can even create your own dark environment on a plane.
The eye mask is made from memory foam with deep cups, which act to prevent any pressure on your eyes. With a runtime of 10 hours on a 1-2 hour charge, the headphones should be able to hold power through the night. When the battery does die, it does so silently — there are no jarring alerts or beeps to wake you.
The Sleepace Sleep Headphones is a very inexpensive but comfortable sleep mask with sleep headphones. It’s ideal for side sleepers, travel, or simply creating a more quiet bedtime experience. The mask is made from thin silk and lycra, with a no-bulk design for comfortable side sleeping. The speaker is actually removable, should you want to wash the mask or simply use it to block light. Finally, the Sleepace Sleep Headphones actually track your sleep and can be paired with the free sleep app to play certain soothing bedtime audio tracks to lull you to sleep. You can even set a timer so that it shuts off automatically and set a wake-up alarm to sound through the speaker in the morning.
Find more tips and recommendations by heading over to our Sleep hub.
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