Wearing headphones while sleeping

Can I wear headphones while sleeping?

The growing problem of getting to sleep

Getting enough sleep is one of the biggest health problems facing human beings as a species today. There is compelling evidence to show that getting enough sleep can help you maintain a healthy weight, keep diseases at bay and also help your mental health. However, today human beings have a myriad of distractions available to steal us away from sleep. We dont want to go to sleep because we are just having too much fun on our devices. And we have to wake up because of the burdens of living in a modern society where we need to show up to work at a set time everyday. One of the most frequently reported problems is that people are having trouble in falling asleep. The paradox is ironic. You go to bed thinking you will get a good nights sleep. Not falling asleep immediately causes anxiety as you keep imagining the amount of sleep you are losing out on and this paradoxically causes you to not fall asleep.

Wearing headphones while sleeping
headphones while sleeping

The science on sleeping with music

There have been studies done on evaluating the effects of music while sleeping. Some studies have found that sleeping with music on may help those who suffer from PTSD and insomnia. Playing classical music while sleeping is also shown to have improved sleep quality in patients who suffer from various problems.

On the other hand however, studies have shown the playing music while sleeping can cause an increase in the amount of wakefulness. It can also cause an increased heartbeat among listeners.

Overall, it seems like music can have different effects on different people when used while sleeping. We would recommend that you use music for falling asleep only. That is the music should turn off after a certain amount of time so that you are not listening to it all night. Music should be used as an aid only to fall asleep. Using it all night is not natural and might lead you to wake up at odd times of the night.

Sleeping with wireless earbuds

One of the options to listen to music while falling asleep is the use of wireless earbuds. There are several disadvantages and indeed dangers to doing this that you need to be aware of.

  • Skin Necrosis: If your earbuds dont fit well and end up applying pressure on parts of your ear, there is a real chance that the sustained pressure over an extended period of time can cause necrosis. In simple terms, necrosis refers to the death of tissue. While this is a rare outcome, it is not out of the realm of possibility.
  • Ear Wax Build Up: Wearing earphones for extended periods of time can cause excessive ear wax build up. Ear wax usually escapes from our ears when we are lying down and sleeping. Wearing earbuds can hamper this natural process and cause health problems
  • Isolation from external sounds: Usage of earbuds, especially noise canceling earbuds can cause you to be cut off from external sounds. In case of an emergency you might not be able to hear external sounds potentially putting your life in danger.

Sleeping with wired headphones

Another option to listen to music while sleeping is using wired headphones. While these have the same risks as those from wireless earbuds mentioned above, having wires carries another danger. Many users report that the wires end up around their neck as they toss and turn. There is a real danger of your air supply being cut off and being strangled in your sleep. So even if you absolutely cannot do without music while sleeping, avoiding wired headphones will be a good idea.

The dangers of loud music

Hearing damage from listening to loud music is a serious issue. Even the World Health Organization has deemed this as a significant risk. They estimate that over 50% of people in the age group of 12-35 are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from their personal audio devices. For more details on this, check out our article on whether headphones/earbuds will cause hearing damage.

The bottomline in regards to hearing damage from loud music is that it is a very real concern and you should be making changes to your listening habits today. Reducing the volume on your earbuds to 60% makes them safe for a few hours. This means that they are still unsafe to be worn for the whole night. If you do intend to wear your earbuds/headphones for the whole night make sure the volume setting on them is lesser than 50%. This is the only safe way to ensure that you do not cause long term hearing damage.

Sleep headphones – are they useful?

Lately, there have been multiple products coming in which are marketed as being tailored for users who like to sleep with music on. A key factor in their design is that they eliminate wires to ensure that entanglement risks are completely eliminated. They also have flat speakers that are usually encased in a headband. This is useful in eliminating the risk of tissue necrosis. Since your ear canal is not completely blocked up, the ear wax problem is also eliminated.

Sleep headphones are a welcome innovation catering to customers who cannot do without music to fall asleep to. They are a viable and worthy investment and should provide you with peace of mind along with the soothing music that you need to fall asleep to. A word of advice here again on the sound volume. Make sure to listen to music on your sleep headphones at a low volume to ensure that you protect yourself from hearing damage.

Sleeping with headphones on – the FAQ

To wrap up, we answer some of your burning question in a quick FAQ format?

Question: Is listening to music while falling asleep unsafe?

Answer: Listening to music while falling asleep has multiple risks, especially if you are using headphones or earbuds. The common risk no matter what device you use to listen to music is that of permanent hearing loss. So the first thing to keep in mind is to reduce the volume, preferably below 50% on your listening device.

Question: Which are better: headphones or earbuds to use while sleeping?

Answer: The answer is neither. Headphones and earbuds both carry different risks and you should ideally not be using either of them while falling asleep. A better alternative would be to use headphones which are specifically designed to be used while sleeping – sleepphones or bedphones as they are popularly known.