What You Should Know About Sleeping With Headphones

They say that you should take regular naps throughout the day instead of one long sleep at night to ensure that your brain is functioning at its optimum levels of concentration throughout the day. Nothing makes a nape more perfect than having your headphones on whilst you sleep to help you get deep relaxation.

The only problem with wearing headphones when you sleep is the fact that not many people know how to use headphones in a safe way when it comes to sleeping with your headphones on.

Is Listening To Music While Sleeping With Headphones Bad?

Otitis Externa

This is a condition whereby you begin to develop irritation in your ear canal. Your ear canal plays an important role when it comes to your ears as the canal moves from the outer ear into the eardrum. The skin around your ear can wear out and can cause fluid to leak from the ear. Your ears can also become sore when there is too much pressure on the ears themselves.

You need to make sure that if you plan on sleeping with your headphones on, you need to ensure that not a lot of pressure is exerted on your ears and that if you start to feel any pain, you remove your headphones. If the pain does not go away after 24 hours, please go see your house doctor to ensure that everything is ok.

Wax Buildup

Ear wax is one of the most important lines of defense our body creates, protecting the ear canal from the entry of any foreign objects or insects. This wax normally exits so as not to accumulate inside. That is why when you clean your ears, you often see an accumulation of earwax on the cotton bud.

When you wear your headphones or earbuds to bed and then wear them almost the whole day while you’re awake, the wax can’t exit your ear. Thus, the wax starts to build up, which can then lead to clogged ears, affecting your hearing.


Necrosis is a medical term for the death of tissue, often caused by a lack of or restricted blood flow to the area. Necrosis can only happen after a few years of improperly wearing headphones to bed and is often secondary to certain conditions.

Your ears can get scratched or wounded due to prolonged headphone usage. The open skin is a good entry point for bacteria and fungi, exposing you to a potential risk of infection. Not only that, individuals who sweat a lot can trap excess moisture, making it a good breeding site for fungi. Any infection, when left untreated, can lead to necrosis.

Hearing Problems

Headphones have been known to cause hearing problems in the younger generations. We tend to listen to our music too loud and that results in permanent hearing loss and damage to our ears themselves. Apart from constant exposure to loud music, the problems mentioned above can also lead to partial and permanent hearing loss.

You need to make sure that when you go to sleep with your headphones on that you are able to still hear noises around you and that if you are called, you can answer. Most people forget about the safety issue when it comes to listening to music too loud…

Not only are you causing hearing problems for yourself later on in life but it also causes a safety risk, especially during an emergency situation. If you go to sleep with a blocked ear and a fire starts in your house, you will not be able to hear people shouting for you or the smoke alarm going off. Please keep this in mind the next time you decide to sleep with your headphones.

Apart from the health risk and inability to hear impending dangers in your surrounding, the risk of strangulation by headphones, especially when wearing wired headphones, is something to keep in mind. Also, even if there’s a slim chance, you might accidentally increase the music volume while you’re sleeping. That can be a problem when you wear a pair of headphones with the volume control on the ear cups, and you sleep on your side or move around a lot.

What Are the Benefits of Listening to Music While Sleeping?

Wearing headphones to bed to listen to music can do wonders, and discussed below are some of the most notable ones.

White Noise and Relaxation

Ever wonder why it is so easy to fall asleep during a massage in a spa? One of the reasons is the fact that white noise surrounds you. You can get special Apps on your phone that allows you to play white noise to help you sleep.

Sleep that is induced by white noise is often a very deep sleep due to the fact that your brain is not worrying about the outside noises and is focusing on the healing of the body. You often feel revitalized and rejuvenated after a white noise deep sleep.

A report in a Nursing Journal states that white noise can help lower the body’s heart rate and breathing rates. This allows the body to relax more and be in a comfortable state which makes it easier for you to fall asleep worrying about money, school, politics, and all the other stuff that is going on in your life.

You Can Learn Easier

You might have already heard this theory but they say that you are able to learn better when you are sleeping than when you are awake.

Deep sleep allows your brain cells to be more synchronized than during the day. This allows your brain to generate new memory and connections when new stimuli come along. As you begin to listen to audiobooks, music or videos when you are sleeping, the information that you take in will be easier for your brain to absorb and restore.

Even though this study has been done all over the world and have gotten positive results, you need to keep in a mind a few key points:

  • The information should not be too loud
  • Your headphones should be comfortable and easy to wear
  • Even though you can learn when you sleep, you still need to learn during the day as well

The study affects everyone differently. Some people might not need to open up their workbooks and studying during the day but some people might need to. Do not take this as an easy way to get out of studying.

Block Irritating Noise

Sleep quality is as, if not more, important as/than sleep quantity. However, some people live in a very noisy environment because of housemates, neighbours, nearby bars, cars, and more, so they wake up multiple times during their sleep. Listening to your favourite music while in bed can block the noise that might disrupt your sleep.

Mood Improvement

Not only will your mood improve because you slept better and felt relaxed, but listening to pleasant or soft music while you’re asleep or before falling asleep can trigger increased serotonin production. Serotonin is one of the chemicals in our brain cells that modulate mood and emotions. It’s one of our natural happy pills; in fact, low serotonin levels are seen in depressive states.

Studying Whilst You Sleep

Studying whilst you sleep can help you absorb and retain the information better than if you do not study whilst you sleep. Keep in mind, you still need to put in the hours to get the marks and results you deserve and want.

How Do You Safely Listen to Music While Sleeping?

It’s clear by now that wearing a pair of headphones while sleeping comes with cons, but most of these issues are preventable. Hence, apart from asking, “Is it bad to sleep with AirPods in or headphones on?”, you must also know particular best practices when you really want and need to wear these electronic devices.

Change Your Pillows

Whether you wear modern or traditional headphones, specialized pillows can help prevent some issues discussed above. Your best option is a pillow with a hole in the middle, primarily used by people who have undergone ear surgery.

The hole can accommodate the ear cup while you sleep on your side, helping relieve a bit of pressure that your ears would have been exposed to when you lay on the earcup. It will also help prevent the accidental changing of the volume setting if the controls are on the ear cup.

You can also opt for a travel pillow. Although this is a popular option for travellers or those who need to sleep in a seated position, you can also use them while side-lying in your bed. The middle crater in the travel pillow is a perfect slot for the headphone ear cup.

Wear Special Headphones and Earbuds

Today, you’ll find plenty of headphone brands and models that meet specific and special user requirements. In terms of listening to music through your headphones while sleeping, below are the top options for you.

  • Wireless Headphones

As mentioned earlier, strangulation is one of the dangers of sleeping with headphones because of the headphone wire. The best solution for this problem is to own a pair of wireless headphones. Keep in mind, though, that not all wireless models can solve other issues like better protection from hearing loss.

  • Noise-Canceling Headphones

Experts highly suggest that you consider noise-canceling headphones since they can block ambient noise without the need to increase the music or sound volume. Therefore, you can listen to your favourite music without exposing your ear canals to high decibel levels that can cause hearing problems.

  • Ear Headphones

Apart from noise-canceling headphones, ear or headband headphones are great options. They’re headbands with inbuilt earbuds. Although they don’t produce the best sound quality, this device ensures you stay comfortable while sleeping, even when lying on your side.

Another great thing about these types of headphones is the headband is washable, so you don’t have to worry about built-up dirt, sweat, and others. Just make sure you remove the buds with speakers as tiny or tinier as cell phone speakers before washing.

  • Wireless Earbuds

If you really want to free your head from any pressure or make sure you can move freely as you sleep, wireless, noise-cancelling earbuds are an excellent choice. They’re not only free of annoying wires and headbands, but they will also fit snugly into your ears. You can also find models with a built-in mic, so like headphones, they’re multi-purpose items.

Just keep in mind that these devices don’t have great battery life. Some of the best models you’ll find will only last from five to six hours when fully charged. Ergo, if you need to listen to a constant sound while sleeping, this might be a significant drawback.

  • Sleep Headphones

There are a few brands out there that create sleep headphones. They are more comfortable to lie on which is better for your ears in the long run and they do not allow you to put the volume up to a point whereby you cannot fall into a deep and restful sleep.

Allow Your Headphones to Breathe

Understandably, not everyone has the budget to purchase a new pair of listening devices or special pillows. Your headphones have a cushion inside that can absorb and retain sweat, especially since there’s no proper air circulation when they wrap your ears. The dried sweat can cause an unpleasant odour and house microorganisms.

You need to make sure you don’t expose them to more sweat by not wearing them for an extended period of time. You must also make sure you don’t keep them in storage or their pouch all the time.

This is also the best way to prevent other critical or delicate issues, such as otitis externa and earwax buildup. Additionally, even if your headphones are made of breathable material, it’s still advisable to let them air out.

Is Wearing Earphones Everyday Bad?

You already know that wearing headphones to listen to music while sleeping comes with dangers. How about wearing earphones, noise-canceling headphones, or wired and wireless headphones daily or too long? Let’s answer some common questions to answer that query.

What Happens if You Wear Headphones for Too Long?

Apart from the health risks mentioned earlier, individuals who wear special or regular headphones for an extended period can also experience nausea and vertigo after removing the device. Surprisingly, wearing headphones for prolonged periods can also disrupt your sleep.

How Long Is Too Long to Wear Headphones?

Doctors agree that the safest limit to wearing headphones is 60 minutes, but it isn’t really a straightforward answer to “How many hours should I use headphones?” That’s because the number gets affected by whether or not you listen to music at a loud volume.

The 60-minute limit is when you listen to music at a maximum volume of 60%. Meaning, as you increase the volume, you need to shorten your ear’s exposure to your headphones. Medical professionals agree that you must only wear Bluetooth headsets, wired earphones or headphones, and earbuds for five minutes a day when listening to loud music.

Are Headphones Bad for Your Brain?

Wearing headphones doesn’t directly affect your brain but it can have negative effects because of its close proximity to the ears. Medically speaking, and although rare, ear damage can lead to nerve body tissue damages. This damage to the nerve can affect certain brain functions, so you’ll sometimes feel disoriented and dizzy.

Being one of the most common adverse health effects of wearing headphones for long hours, people worry about ear infections leading to brain infections. Untreated ear infections lead to ear bone damage, which then progresses to the brain if still left untreated. As you can see, unhealthy headphone usage can only lead to brain problems when you ignore ear conditions for a long time.

Another concern is if radio waves produced by headphones can cause brain tumors. Fortunately, there is still no link between cancers and headphones and earbuds.


As you can see, there are pros and cons to wearing headphones when you sleep. The truth of the matter is the good outweighs the bad. Wearing headphones whilst you sleep if very beneficial to your health and brain function. You just need to make sure that you use them in a responsible way and that you are cleaning them at least twice a week.

There is a brand called Bedphones. These are headphones that are ergonomically designed to be worn whilst you sleep. This means you can toss and turn all night and your headphones will not break. Your music will also not disturb the rest of the household.

If you sleep with headphones on, let us know your reasoning and how it benefits you in your everyday life.

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