The 5 Best Headphones for Sleeping in 2021

Drown out the rest of the world and get some much-needed shut-eye

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The Rundown
"Will help you fall asleep, but that’s not all they’re good for."
"Ideal for those on a budget."
"The Sleepbuds II from Bose offer a solid set of features in a comfortable pair of sleep earbuds."
"If you find earbuds too painful to wear all night, and headbands too hot and sweaty."
"Double-duty as an eye mask as well, so bright lights and sunrise won’t disturb your slumber."

The best headphones for sleep are the perfect way to mask outside noise while piping in your favorite white noise to gently lull you to sleep. These headphones feature a low profile that either fits snugly in your ear or is incorporated into a plush headband to prevent any discomfort while sleeping on your side.

Models like the CozyPhones Sleep Headphones at Amazon may very well be some of the most comfortable headphones available and offer a barely-there all night fit, but unfortunately aren't wireless. For that convenience, you'll want to take a look at the AcousticSheep Bluetooth SleepPhones at Amazon.

If you're looking for more ways to study the metrics of your sleep cycle, make sure to take a look at our best apple watch apps for tracking sleep before you nod off to our collection of the best headphones for sleep.

Best Overall: MAXROCK Sleeping Headphones

Like all the others on this list, the MAXROCK headphones will help you fall asleep, but that’s not all they’re good for. The built-in microphone also lets you make and take calls on most smartphones and the snug earbuds stay in place even during vigorous exercise.

The multi-purpose button makes it easy to answer calls and, more importantly, to pause, play and skip tracks without having to flail around for your phone in the dark.

The headphones come in a small range of colors and are surprisingly durable for the price, with strong silicone earbuds that can handle plenty of abuse. They do a good job of blocking outside noise​ and barely protrude outside the ear canal when inserted, making them more comfortable to lie on than most earphones.

As usual with this type of headphone, the 1/4” drivers are better for spoken word or ambient sounds than music with thumping bass.

Best Budget: Koss "The Plug" In-Ear Headphones

Most of these headphones won’t break the bank, but this earplug-like Koss model is ideal for those on a budget. It’s an unusual design, but the memory foam tips keep the headphones seated firmly inside the ear canal. That snugness helps block out more sound than the competition, while still staying comfortable even for side-sleepers.

The headphones come with extra tips — surprising at this price point — and they’re small and light enough to easily drop in a pocket or overnight bag as needed. Available in a range of colors, there’s little not to like about these great, low-cost sleep aids.

Best Splurge: Bose Sleepbuds II

Bose Sleepbuds II

If you toss and turn at night because of stress, disturbances from neighbors or a snoring partner, the Bose Sleepbuds II offer a pricey but effective noise-masking solution to help you sleep more peacefully. These wireless earbuds are small and designed to fit snugly inside your ears to passively block out noise without adding extra bulk (great for side sleepers) and reducing the chance that they’ll fall out. 

The passive noise cancellation isn’t the only thing going for these sleep aids. They also play soothing sounds that are engineered specifically to mask noises that can distract from sleep and encourage relaxation. If you’re on the fence, these tiny but mighty earbuds are backed by a Bose sleep study that showed that participants with difficulties falling and staying asleep actually ended up having an easier time getting to sleep and noted better sleep quality overall. 

As for interacting with this sleeping accessory, everything is done through the companion app, including choosing and loading new sounds, setting alarms, and connecting and turning them on. The case conveniently charges the earbuds and turns them off for battery conservation, and you can expect up to 30 hours from a fully charged case or up to 10 hours from the Sleepbuds alone.

"The Sleepbuds II earbuds are an investment that could pay dividends in quality hours of sleep.” Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Best Clip-On: Panasonic RP-HS46E-K Slim Earphone

If you find earbuds too painful to wear all night, and headbands too hot and sweaty, take a look at the Panasonic RP-HS46E-K Slim instead.

The flat drivers clip over each ear, and while you’ll still notice them when lying on your side, the low profile makes them more comfortable than you’d expect. Some side-sleepers just place a single earphone between their ear and the pillow rather than clipping it on, so they can roll away after falling asleep.

Fairly durable for the price, the headphones come with a four-foot cable. As with many of the other inexpensive models listed here, they come with a standard 3.5mm plug. With minimal noise-cancelation, these work better in relatively quiet environments. There’s a reasonable amount of sound leakage as well, so you may need to turn the volume down if you’re alongside a light sleeper.

Best Wireless: AcousticSheep Bluetooth SleepPhones

With many new smartphones shipping without a headphone jack, you’re stuck either using an annoying adapter or opting for Bluetooth-enabled headphones instead. AcousticSheep has been making its headband-style SleepPhones for several years, including Bluetooth models in a range of colors, fabrics and sizes.

While wireless headphones have the downside of needing regular charging, the lack of cable does avoid getting tangled up in the night. The company promises enough battery life to get you through the night, charging via micro-USB or on the highest-end model, an induction charger similar to an electric toothbrush or smartwatch.

The flat speakers are comfortable to lie on for extended periods, and being able to choose your size (small, medium or large) and fabric (fleece or a lighter, more-breathable fabric) makes them appropriate for a wider range of wearers. You can also choose between models with or without a microphone.

As with all headband-style earphones like these, the SleepPhones do double-duty as an eye mask as well, so bright lights and sunrise won’t disturb your slumber.

Final Verdict

Our top pick for the best headphones for sleeping are the CozyPhones Sleep Headphones. A budget-friendly option with a comfortable fit. However, if you're looking for a slightly more premium model with wireless capability, the AcousticSheep Bluetooth SleepPhones are an excellent option.

What to Look for in Headphones for Sleeping

Style - Sleeping headphones come in two predominant styles: Earbuds and headbands. Headbands can be better for side sleepers and stomach sleepers, though some earbuds are designed to be small enough to work well even if you’re sleeping on them. It’s important to take your sleep position into account — and what’s comfortable for you — before purchasing a pair.

Music vs. white noise - Do you want to fall asleep to music but have it turn off after an hour? Or do you want to listen to white noise all night? Some headphones only allow preloaded white noise, while others will play select songs off your playlists. Figuring out the kind of noise you need — as well as how long you want it to last — will help you narrow down your headphone selection.

Noise level - It’s hard to drown out street noise (and almost impossible to mute a loud snorer), so take that into account when you’re choosing your headphones. Different kinds of white noise will be effective on varying types of sounds, so you may want to choose a pair of headphones with multiple options.

About Our Trusted Experts

Yoona Wagner has been writing for Lifewire since 2019, specializing in werables and lifestyle tech. She has a background in technical and content writing.

FAQs

What's the best way to clean headphones?
Headphones can get pretty grimy with repeated use and, in extreme cases, the buildup can even start to impact sound quality and functionality. Luckily, cleaning them is pretty simple: grab a soft cloth and remove all the surface grime you can, and then just attack all the nooks and crannies with a paper towel and Q-tip that's been dabbed in some rubbing alcohol. If you can, remove the earcups to remove any hidden buildup, and extend the band to it's maximum setting.

How does noise canceling work in headphones?
Passive noise canceling is a very analog solution that relies on stuff like additional padding to muffle outside noise, but it's significantly less effective and active noise canceling tech. ANC deploys microphones to detect low-frequency noise and then the headset actually plays a phase-inverted tone to nullify the noise before it reaches your ears.

What determines audio quality in headphones?
Audio quality is the result of a number of different factors, some of which are specific to headphones and some which apply more broadly regardless of the output device. When evaluating sound quality we test everything from frequency response at the low, mid, and high end of the spectrum, the audio soundstage, harmonic distortion, sound accuracy, and more.

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