The Best Sleep Headphones (aka ‘sleep earbuds’) of 2021
Fed up with struggling through another sleep-deprived night thanks to a frustrating snoring partner, or constant traffic and city sounds? Had enough of the discomfort of trying to sleep through the night with big, bulky headphones that make getting comfortable impossible?
It’s the age of tech, my friend. You don’t have to turn up your stereo or shove earplugs into your head any longer. Sleep headphones are a real thing, but you need to choose the right ones or else you’ll end up with an uncomfortable product, struggling to fall asleep every night.
We’ve done the research for you and rounded up the 10 best headphones for sleeping available online right now; complete with detailed information on each product’s relevant features and a buying guide.
At A Glance:
- Best Overall: AcousticSheep SleepPhones Effortless
- Budget Pick: Joseche Sleep Headphones And Eye Mask
- Best Noise-Cancellation: Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
Lets jump into the 10 best products, but if you want a few tips on choosing first check out our buying guide below by clicking here.
Top Picks: 10 Best Headphones and Earbuds For Sleeping
Here are the best sleep headphones on the market as of 2021. We’ll start with a quick summary, and go in-depth into each product below.
|AcousticSheep SleepPhones® Effortless™||
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|Joseche Sleep Headphones And Eye Mask||
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|Bose QuietComfort 35 II||
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|Bose Sleepbuds™ II||
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|DubsLabs Bedphones Wireless||
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|Shure SE215-CL Professional Sound Isolating Earphones||
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|QuietOn Sleep Earbuds||
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|Final Audio Design E3000C||
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Lets start with our top pick, which happens to be our favorite pick for 2021:
The AcousticSheep SleepPhones were the original headband-style, wearable, over-ear headphones, and they’ve gained a lot of popularity in recent years.
The new SleepPhones Effortless takes this classic design a step further with Bluetooth connectivity and a wireless induction charging base.
These are amongst the most comfortable headphones for sleeping out there, with two fabric options for the headband: Fleece (for colder environments) or Breeze (for hot climates).
They also come in three different sizes, so you can pick the one that fits you just right. Since it’s a headband, it’s equally comfortable whether you’re a side sleeper or a back sleeper.
The in-built speakers sound great, especially for casually listening to music and podcasts, and they can be easily removed when you need to wash the headband. This ensures that there won’t be any unhygienic sweat build-up on the headband.
And for people who suffer from tinnitus, these headphones have proven to be a very effective solution for relaxing and sleeping (1).
The 10-hour battery life is easily enough for a night’s worth, and the wireless induction charging makes it effortless to charge these headphones when you wake up in the morning. Just position the chargers on the base, and they charge automatically.
They also feature a mic and volume controls, so you can easily receive calls on these and control music playback.
If you’re looking for the best headphones for sleeping, then these are the ones we’d recommend most. They fit almost every user’s needs, with amazing comfort, great sound, ease of use, and superb value for money.
For the budget shoppers out there, we recommend the Joseche Wireless Sleep Headphones, which are designed as a sleep mask with in-built speaker units.
These headphones are made of a silky smooth, velvet and cotton fabric with thick padding and an adjustable velcro strap, so they are very comfortable to wear over the eyes and around the ears.
They’re quick to pair to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and have an in-built mic and volume controls so you can control the music right from the headphones, and receive calls too. Their audio quality is pretty good for casual listening, but they aren’t very loud.
These sleep headphones offer a battery life of about 9 hours, and they can be charged via Micro-USB in just two and a half. There’s no noise cancellation here, but they do muffle some of the outside noise. The eye mask itself is machine washable after you take out the internal speakers.
The eye mask is wide and thick, so it blocks out light very effectively. This’ll help you fall asleep better, as studies have shown that darkness promotes a deeper sleep (2).
The headphone speakers are thin, which makes it a comfortable solution that works well for almost anybody, especially if you’re a side sleeper.
If you’re in the market for an affordable sleep headphone that doubles as a sleep mask, then you can’t go wrong with these. These are simply the best budget headphones for sleeping.
3. Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones – Best Noise Cancellation
Type: Over-Ear Headphones
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Battery Life: 20 Hours
- Charging Time: 3 Hours
- Sound: 9/10
- Noise-Cancelling: Yes, Active
- In-Built Mic: Yes
- Plays: Music
- Sleep Tracker: No
Bose is a popular and trustworthy name in the world of audio electronics, and the latest QuietComfort 35 II proves to be a fantastic all-rounder for people wanting wireless headphones.
The over-ear design features lush earpads that are super comfortable to wear for extended durations.
The primary feature of these is their Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology, which can block out almost all the external noise around you. This makes them particularly useful for sleeping, with 3 different ANC settings.
On top of that, they have an excellent sound that’ll always offer a pleasurable listening experience.
They offer a battery life of over 20 hours, with a charging time of just 3 hours, so you’re always ready to use them.
They have a dedicated button to enable the Google voice assistant or Alexa, so you can control your phone with just your voice.
Now, it’s important to note that these headphones were not designed for sleeping, and they would not be comfortable for side sleepers. But if you’re a back sleeper looking for the best noise cancelling headphones for sleeping, then you should definitely check these out.
With exceptional sound, long battery life, an in-built voice assistant, and durable build quality, these are great all-round headphones that work surprisingly well for just about anything.
The second Bose product on this list, the Sleepbuds II were specifically designed, and clinically tested, to aid users in sleeping more peacefully every night.
These in-ear earbuds are super compact, and shaped to fit snugly and securely inside your ears even when you move around and change sides at night. This makes them super comfortable even for a side sleeper.
They don’t playback regular music though; these sleep earbuds can only play a select range of 45 sounds found on Bose’s companion app.
These sounds are classified as noise-masking, tranquilities, or naturescapes, and have been engineered to ensure that they help you sleep better. These include rainfall, nature, waves, white and pink noise, etc.
Here’s what WebMD says about the advantages of sleeping with ‘pink noise’ (3):
It may help you fall asleep faster and keep you in a deep sleep longer. You may also feel more rested when you wake up.
They have a battery life of 10 hours and can be charged via the case, which also holds an extra 3 charges.
With 3 different silicone eartips included, you can choose the one that fits you just right, which also offers some passive noise blocking.
If you’re looking for the best wireless earbuds for sleeping, then we recommend these. They may be on the expensive side, but with research-driven technology that’s sure to help you sleep better and a natural ease of use, we think they’re absolutely worth it.
After all, can you really put a price on a great night’s sleep?
The DubsLabs Bedphones have been designed to be the thinnest and most comfortable on-ear headphones to date.
They come in both wired and wireless variants, both of which use the unique memory wire which can adapt to the shape of your ears for a comfortable fit.
Since these thin on-ear headphones, their sound quality suffers from a slight lack of clarity and underwhelming bass. But they are easily good enough for casual music, podcasts, radio, etc.
The speakers have a foam cushion that’s comfortable even for side sleepers, but doesn’t offer any noise blockage.
The Bedphones offer a battery life of 12 hours, which is great for a full night’s sleep, and you can charge them up in just 3 hours. With the in-built mic and the volume controls, it’s easy to receive phone calls as well.
If you’re looking for thin, wireless on-ear headphones for sleeping, you should certainly check out the DubsLabs Bedphones.
With a uniquely comfortable design that comes with a 1-year warranty and a 30-day return policy, they’re a safe buy for all, and one of the best wireless headphones for sleeping.
Kokoon has recently gained popularity for their innovative sleep headphones. Now, they’ve launched the Nightbuds, which are a pair of in-ear earbuds with advanced features like sleep tracking technology and 4D immersive audio, making them one of the best earbuds for sleeping.
The Nightbuds are amongst the thinnest wireless in-ear earbuds, with a thickness of just 5.4mm, so they can easily be worn by side sleepers.
They connect via Bluetooth 5.1 and can play any music through your phone. With the balanced armature drivers and the silicone ear tips, the audio quality is great and has an immersive feel to it.
The unique aspect of these earphones is their ‘sleep tracking’ technology, which monitors your heart rate to determine the quality of your sleep. You can monitor this data through an app, and take appropriate steps to improve your sleep and fall asleep faster.
Here’s what sleep medicine expert, Dr. Colleen Lance, says about sleep tracking (4):
Consumer sleep technologies offer a wonderful, relatively inexpensive way to become more engaged in your overall health.
With a battery life of over 10 hours and a charging time of less than 3 hours via USB-C, it’s easy to always have these earphones ready for usage. There’s a built-in microphone, and volume controls to control your music playback as well.
If you’re looking to try something new and innovative, you should definitely give these a go. With great audio performance, a sleek and comfortable design, and incredible sleep tracking technology, these may very well redefine what the best sleep headphones should be.
Type: In-Ear Earphones
- Connectivity: Wired or Wireless
- Battery Life: 10 Hours (For Wireless Variant)
- Charging Time: 2 Hours (For Wireless Variant)
- Sound: 9.5/10
- Noise-Cancelling: Yes, Passive
- In-Built Mic: Yes
- Plays: Music
- Sleep Tracker: No
Shure is a well-regarded name in the professional audio realm for their high-fidelity audio electronics. The SE215 is one of their affordable earphones that offers a professional, high-quality sound in both wired and wireless variants that can be used by musicians, audiophiles, or even for sleeping.
These earphones come with three sizes of foam eartips, as well as silicone ones, which are specially designed to offer passive noise isolation of up to 37dB; enough to block out environmental sounds while sleeping.
They fit comfortably and snugly, and the earphones are small enough for most side sleepers to wear. For sleeping, we’d recommend the wireless variant to avoid any hassle due to cables tangling together.
The battery life for the wireless variant is about 10 hours, and it charges in just 2 hours. They come with an in-line remote and mic so you can receive calls as well.
If you’re looking for high-quality audio from your earphones while sleeping, then these will serve you very well. Combine that with a comfortable fit, Bluetooth connectivity, and excellent noise isolation, these are one of the best earbuds to sleep in.
The QuietOn sleep earbuds are not your regular earphones; they don’t play any music. Instead, they are simply designed to sit in your ear like earplugs and block out noise using active noise cancellation, so you can relax even in noisy environments.
The QuietOn features some of the best Active Noise Cancellation technology available today, with a focus on low-frequency noises like snoring. So you can just plug them into your ears and drift off to sleep, or even use them for meditation, reading, studying, etc.
They come with silicone eartips, which fit snugly and are quite comfortable. When you need to listen to something on the outside, you can just lightly press on the earbuds and activate the ‘touch to talk‘ mode.
This stops the ANC momentarily; quite a nifty little feature that saves you the trouble of constantly having to take them out.
They have a battery life of 20 hours, and can recharge in just 1 hour using their charging case. They are always active though, and you need to keep them in the case to switch them off.
If you’re looking for a comfortable way to block all the surrounding noises while sleeping, then the QuietOn sleep earbuds will be a great fit for you.
Their ANC is on par with the best headphones, and they’re comfortable to wear as well. But keep in mind that these won’t play any music.
Final Audio Design has become quite popular recently for its range of affordable earbuds and headphones. The E3000C is amongst their affordable earphones, with a classic design that fits very snugly and great audio quality.
The E3000C has a near-flat sound signature and carries a lot of depth and clarity, making it a good choice for listening to any genre of music.
The body is made of stainless steel, and it comes with silicone tips that fit quite nicely in your ear canal, offering some passive noise isolation.
These are wired headphones, so you have to plug them into your phone with a 3.5mm jack. Compared to a wireless pair, this is certainly a bit troublesome.
But the wires are thin and tangle-free, so they shouldn’t cause any major problems while sleeping. These earphones have an in-built mic, but there’s a model without any mic as well.
If you’re looking for simple wired headphones for sleeping, then these are a great choice. They have a comfortable, durable design, and their audio quality rivals much more expensive headphones.
Amazfit, a Xiaomi brand, is known for making affordable smartwatches and other smart tech. Recently, they launched the ZenBuds, which have been specifically designed to aid users with a better quality of sleep.
The ZenBuds are one of the tiniest earbuds ever, with a very soft shell covered with a silicone tip that fits snugly inside your ear canal.
It’s comfortable even for side sleepers, and it offers a good amount of passive noise blocking.
Their sound quality is quite good for the ambient music that they play. Similar to the Bose Sleepbuds, they only play sounds through the official app.
They have a library of about twenty 5-second loops like rainfall, ambient noise, etc. These can be stored on the device itself.
It also offers sleep tracking technology so it can determine when you fall asleep via a heart rate monitor and shut off the music automatically.
Its rechargeable battery offers about 12 hours, and takes 3 hours to charge via the case.
If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to the Bose Sleepbuds, then these are a good option.
They work on similar concepts, but the ZenBuds have the added advantage of sleep tracking, which makes them worth trying out for users who face difficulties in sleeping.
How To Choose The Best Sleep Headphones
Consider the Design and Comfort
When choosing the best headphones for sleeping for yourself (or even for someone else), the most important factor is the design and the type of headphone you want. Here are the commonly found types:
- Over-Ear: These headphones encapsulate your ears completely, such as the Bose QC 35. They offer a good noise seal and great sound quality, but are often bulky and not suitable for side sleepers. Back sleepers may prefer these though.
- In-Ear: These are earbuds that go into the ear canal and sit comfortably. They come in a range of different sizes, with different ear tips as well. Many people prefer these as they have a great noise seal, great sound quality, and are comfortable for most people even while sleeping.
- On-Ear: These headphones are smaller than over-ear headphones, so they lie flat on top of your ears, such as the DubsLabs Bedphones. These do not offer a proper noise seal, and don’t sound as good as over-ears, but they are quite comfortable due to their thin design.
- Headbands: These are a relatively new type of sleeping headphone consisting of small, thin speaker units embedded inside a headband (which can be made of different materials like fleece, velvet, cotton, etc.). These are super comfortable while sleeping, especially for side sleepers who may find other headphones uncomfortable.
Ultimately, the type of sleep headphones that you should get is a matter of personal preference. If you can, you may go to some local store and try out different headphones and see what fits you. Choose the one that’s comfortable for you to wear throughout the night, so that they don’t create any problems for you while sleeping.
What type of sleeper are you?
This is an important question to ask yourself before picking a headphone for sleeping. Do you sleep on your back? Or on your sides? Or perhaps you prefer to sleep on your stomach? Maybe you twist and turn while sleeping very often.
Your sleep position can help you determine which type of headphones are more suitable for you.
For side sleepers, we recommend headband-style headphones like the SleepPhones, or small in-ears like the Sleepbuds, as they’re designed to be comfortable. For back and stomach sleepers, over-ear headphones like the Bose QC 35 II will offer the best quality, but they can probably wear any of the headphones listed here.
Does the surrounding noise bother you?
If you live in a place with a lot of environmental noises like traffic, air conditioners, construction work, etc., or perhaps you have a loud snoring partner, you may want a headphone that offers a good level of noise cancellation for a more peaceful night. Noise cancellation comes in two varieties:
Passive noise cancellation refers to the blockage of sound, such as when you insert earplugs into your ears.
Most in-ear earbuds offer great passive noise cancellation, as they are designed to form a tight but comfortable seal around the ear canal, so that the outside noise feels diminished.
Active noise cancellation is a technology that uses a microphone to measure the levels of surrounding noise, and creates phase-inverted, ‘mirror’ soundwaves to counter this noise and neutralize it (5).
They work in conjunction with passive noise cancellation on most headphones to offer greatly reduced noise levels, and are great for a variety of purposes like sleeping and meditation.
What else is important to you?
What other features do you want in the headphone? Battery life, connectivity, charging time, sound quality, an in-built mic, sleep tracking, build and material, etc., are just some of the other things that customers feel are important components of a great headphone for sleeping.
You may want a longer battery life, or a short charging time, so that headphones can work all night and be ready for use quickly. Some may prefer the advantages of a sleep tracking headphone like the Kokoon, which can give you insights on how you sleep and how you can improve it.
A comfortable, washable material with moisture-wicking properties that doesn’t make you sweat is important when choosing a sleeping headband.
You may also want an in-built mic or volume controls, so you can talk to people during the night, without having to reach for your phone.
Some of these sleep headphones were specifically designed for sleeping, but some are also great for other tasks, like working out, jogging, reading, meditation, etc. So think about what feels most important to you, and choose the headphones that satisfy those needs.
Yes, it is OK to wear headphones while sleeping, as long as you choose headphones that are comfortable for you and you sleep in an appropriate position. All headphones don’t suit everyone equally well, so you should select a headphone type that’s comfortable for your ears. And it’s recommended to listen to ambient, relaxing sounds at lower volume levels while sleeping.
You can sleep comfortably with headphones by taking some appropriate precautions based on your sleeping position and type of headphone. For over-ear headphones, it’s recommended to sleep on your back, so you don’t put undue pressure on your ears. For in-ear earbuds, you should choose the right ear tip that fits snugly but doesn’t push too deep into the ear. And headband-design headphones are generally the most comfortable for all people, but pick the fabric that suits you.
Another suggestion you can implement, is to use a Pillow With A Hole (PWAH). These pillows have holes in them that are specifically designed for side sleeping, to alleviate pressure on the ears for people with medical conditions. They work comfortably for sleeping with headphones as well.
No. Headphones, in general, are not bad for your brain. Listening to music on headphones at acceptable volume levels is perfectly safe. But listening at very loud levels, especially for extended durations, can indeed lead to hearing loss and other problems. Excessive usage may also lead to tinnitus, so it’s recommended to use headphones only when necessary, and at lower volumes.
- Proven Tinnitus Tips from an Audiologist Video. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyrQnLkuF0g
- Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047226/
- Pink Noise: Can It Help You Sleep?. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/pink-noise-sleep
- 3 Reasons to Track Sleep on Your Smart Watch or Fitness Tracker. Retrieved from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/3-reasons-to-track-your-sleep-on-an-app-or-wearable-device/
- How do Active Noise Canceling Headphones Work?. Retrieved from: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psi-vid/how-do-active-noise-canceling-headphones-work/