Sleeping with Headphones & Earbuds: Is it Safe?
Written by Maisie Bygraves on Jan 10, 2022.
Scientifically fact checked by Kokoon.
Sleeping with headphones on or sleeping with earbuds in your ears can help send you to sleep. They’re a go-to tool to mask or block external noises and other disturbances that may keep you awake. They can often be a necessity when it comes to getting quality sleep. However, it’s right to explore whether sleeping with headphones and earbuds is safe.
Throughout this article, we’ll discuss the ways in which earbuds and headphones can be worn safely whilst sleeping. We’ll also highlight certain things to avoid when wearing them, so you can get the best experience possible.
Is it bad to sleep with headphones or earbuds?
Sleeping with headphones or earbuds can be bad if you don’t do it correctly. By making sure you adjust the volume to a lower level, get the right fit and comfort level when it comes to over-ear and in-ear and avoid using wires, you can create a safe user environment.
Benefits of sleeping with headphones or earbuds
There are many benefits of sleeping with headphones or earbuds. Here are just a handful:
1. They can shut out noise
You can use headphones or earbuds to shut out all kinds of noise, like people talking, noisy neighbours or annoying traffic sounds. They can help you to sleep more peacefully, with less disturbances to your slumber.
You can tune into sleep sounds and sleep audio to help mask external noises and also help encourage a relaxed and tranquil ambience - calming the mind before bed.
Listening to music before you go to bed can relax your mind, as studies show that music helps to lower your breathing and your heart rate. In fact, research has shown that active noise control technology is beneficial in reducing noise for patients in intensive care, helping them to get more sleep and to switch off from a stressful environment.
Nightbuds and Relax headphones aim to minimise external noise and encourage the use of sleep audio and white noise to help you drift off to sleep more easily.
2. You can listen to coloured noise
You can listen to coloured noise through your headphones or earbuds to help mask external sounds and distract your brain from other over-stimulating noises like traffic or snoring.
Listening to white noise can help stop racing thoughts by giving you an alternative to focus on. It’s very calming, which is an ideal state to be in before bed and it can also help you to fall asleep faster. It can ‘calm’ your prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for thought analysis and making choices. And it’s often recommended for sleep disorders and insomnia. White noise can be the sound of something as simple as a whirring fan.
A 2017 paper reported that pink noise increased deep sleep and improved memory in older adults when it was played in bursts matching the brain waves of the participants as they were sleeping.
3. They can help treat Insomnia and PTSD
Studies have shown that listening to music while sleeping can be a positive form of treatment for people suffering from PTSD or insomnia, as it can relax their minds and improve the quality of their sleep.
The MyKokoon app offers an array of audio for sleep, which includes CBT-like practices such as hypnosis, body scan and PMR.
4. They can help stimulate serotonin
Serotonin is a chemical produced in the brain which makes us feel good. If you use your headphones or earbuds to listen to your favourite feel-good music before bed, then it may help stimulate your serotonin production, resulting in you feeling happier and relaxed.
Why is this important? Well, going to bed feeling happy, relaxed and in a feel-good mood can make falling asleep and staying asleep much easier.
Are there any risks when sleeping with headphones or earbuds?
There are some risks if you don’t use your headphones or earbuds correctly. So it’s important to know what the potential risks are and how you can avoid them altogether.
1. High volume
Having the volume too high can be bad for your ears. Experts agree that regularly exposing yourself to volumes higher than 60 decibels can cause hearing damage, therefore listening to the volume on low is ideal. Usually, when listening to audio for sleep, a low volume is more than sufficient to send you to sleep. Anything too loud can be a hindrance and keep you awake.
2. Ear pain
An ill-fitting earbud, or a pair of headphones that are too tight or uncomfortable can cause pain to the interior and exterior of the ear. To prevent this from happening, it’s vital to acquire a pair of headphones that are comfortable and a pair of earbuds that offer the right fit and size.
Kokoon’s Relax Headphones have been designed with comfort in mind. They use natural fabrics, including cotton, to discourage overheating and they’re also breathable. The design of the headphones means you can wear them for longer periods of time without experiencing any discomfort.
Kokoon’s Nightbuds have been designed with different sized earbuds (and sleeves) so you can find the perfect fit for your ear size. The fabric chosen is soft and malleable, allowing for movement and extra comfort - avoiding any in-ear pain.
3. Rogue wires
People who tend to move around at night have a higher risk of getting into trouble with any headphone or earbud wires. And in some extreme cases the risk of strangulation can occur. That’s why opting for wireless headphones and earbuds when sleeping can be a better option. You still maintain the same quality of sound and connection, just without the risk of wires interfering with your sleep.
4. Missing emergencies
Playing music through your headphones at night can mask or block sounds and noises, which can be great, however if the music continues whilst you’re asleep there may be a chance you won’t be able to hear fire alarms or other emergency situations.
That’s one of the reasons why our Nightbuds and Relax Headphones, when used with the MyKokoon app, offer an audio-fade option as you drift off to sleep. Our sensors will know when you’ve fallen asleep and fade the audio so you won’t need to listen to it all night, which means there'll be less chance of you missing any emergencies if the time ever comes.
Precautions to take when sleeping with headphones or earbuds
Once you know the potential risks of wearing headphones or earbuds in bed, you can learn how to take precautions to avoid them. And these should include:
- Don’t play the music/audio too loud
- Get comfortable headphones so they don’t disturb your sleep
- Go wireless to avoid any wires interfering with your sleep
- Choose a pair with a supporting app that fades your audio so you don’t miss any emergencies
Get started with safe sleep headphones or earbuds
If you want to pick a pair of headphones or earbuds that have been designed with safety in mind, then go for Kokoon’s Nightbuds or Relax Headphones. Both pairs are designed to be comfortable, so as not to disturb your sleep.
They’re also wireless, with the Nightbuds only wire being a small wire that zig zags across the back of the head.
The MyKokoon app works with both pairs of headphones to fade your audio as you drift off to sleep, so you can be more aware of potential emergencies.
Try a pair of Kokoon’s earbuds or headphones and feel the difference.