Links on SoundGuys may earn us a commission. Learn more.
Best headphones for sleeping
Maybe you’re the type of person who needs to listen to music or a podcast to go to sleep. Perhaps you live with other people or have thin walls in your apartment, playing audio from a speaker while you sleep could be disruptive to others around you. Or maybe it’s the noises that keep you up at night that you need to get rid of to have a restful sleep. Wearing headphones to sleep is clearly the solution for those issues, but unless you’re a perfectly still back sleeper, they can be wildly uncomfortable or difficult to wear.
We’ve compiled a list of the best headphones for sleeping, but it’s important to note that every pick has a caveat. As far as I can tell, no company has made truly perfect headphones for sleeping for every kind of person.
One major thing to note is that wearing headphones or earbuds while you sleep can be unsafe. Potential complications include ear infections and hearing loss, because you’re potentially putting pressure on something inside of your ear, and you don’t really know how loud your audio is while you’re unconscious. If you accidentally turn the volume up in your sleep and it doesn’t wake you up, you could sustain noise-induced hearing loss from being exposed to loud sounds for an extended period of time. So just know that there are potential dangerous, and try your best to mitigate them by being responsible with your headphones.
Editor’s note: this list was published on January 10, 2023, and is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.
For our top five picks, you can find the isolation and frequency response charts at the end of some of the image galleries. You can learn more about how to read our charts here.
The best sleep-specific headphones is the Bose Sleepbuds II
The Bose Sleepbuds II masks noise around you, and also has a low profile in your ear, so you can sleep in any position without discomfort. It uses passive isolation, not noise cancelling, to mask noises at night so you can sleep peacefully. Bose claims it has a battery life of 10 hours, which is more than enough for the average person.
The Bose Sleep App offers sounds to listen to while you fall asleep, ranging from noise masking, to nature sounds, and tranquil sounds. Unfortunately, a big drawback is that these sounds are the only ones you can play through the Bose Sleepbuds II, and you can’t play any of your own music or podcasts.
The Shure SE215 is the best wired earbuds for sleeping
The Shure SE215 is a pair of wired in-ear monitors (IEMs) with excellent isolation, which will keep you soundly asleep and keep out lots of loud noises. It might seem like a surprise that a pair of moderately priced IEMs is a top pick, but hear me out: it’s multipurpose, accessible, sounds good, and won’t die on you overnight.
The Shure SE215 comes with memory foam ear tips as well as silicone ones, so you can get a comfortable fit for the whole night. The earbuds also keep a pretty low profile in your ear, and hooks around the top of your ear so it stays in securely. Some people find this really comfortable to sleep in, while others can find the Shure SE215 somewhat uncomfortable. It all really depends on your ears and the ear tips you’re using, so you definitely should test all the ear tips to find your ideal fit.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is the best over-ear headphones for sleeping
If you want headphones that will take you through your day and be comfortable for sleep, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II could be a good option for you. The headphones are, as the name insists, very comfortable, and you’ll likely be able to wear it for hours without discomfort. Back sleepers can easily wear these and drift off with the noise cancelling and some calming sounds on.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II has a battery life of 21 hours, 12 minutes in our testing, which is enough to easily last two nights of sleep. Not only is this pair of headphones good for sleeping, it’s an all-around excellent pair of noise cancelling headphones. It’s a reliable option for commuters, office workers, and back sleepers alike.
In case you want to buy the QuietComfort 35 II, you might as well know how well the whole thing functions, even when you’re not sleeping. The microphone can pick up quite a bit of background noise in loud conditions like wind or out on the street. Regardless, it handles voices wells and will be perfectly fine for phone calls in quiet conditions.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II microphone demo (Ideal):
Bose QuietComfort 35 II microphone demo (Office):
Bose QuietComfort 35 II microphone demo (Street):
Bose QuietComfort 35 II microphone demo (Wind):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Side sleepers may want to check out the AcousticSheep SleepPhones Wireless
If you’re interested in headband sleep headphones, the AcousticSheep SleepPhones Wireless is a great product in this field. The headphones wrap around your head, and there are speakers embedded in the sections that rest over your ears. It comes in two different fabric options, a lightweight polyester or a warm fleece fabric, and there’s a control panel on the Bluetooth module on the inside of the headband for controlling volume and playback. The SleepPhones Wireless also has a 24 hour battery life, so it’ll last you through a few nights before having to charge it.
One big caveat with this is that it has the potential to shift overnight, and you might wake up with the speakers far from your ears. Additionally, the SleepPhones Wireless also doesn’t isolate sound very well, so if you’re being bothered by bumps in the night, this won’t do you much good.
If you’re tight on cash, the Moondrop Chu has you covered
A comfortable, fairly low-profile pair of wired earbuds for under $25, the Moondrop Chu has excellent isolation and sound quality. It hooks around the back of your ear for a secure fit, so it’s less likely to dislodge in your sleep. It connects using a 3.5mm TRRS cable, so you’ll need a headphone jack for these earbuds.
The Moondrop Chu has an in-line mic and control module on the wires, so you won’t have any accidental misfires overnight from moving your head. The biggest problem this pair of earbuds presents is just the pressure you might be putting on your ears if you’re a side sleeper. There’s also the added potential wrinkle of wearing wired earbuds while you’re asleep and rolling over—you may wind up damaging them, or at least just pulling them out of your ears.
You can purchase the Moondrop Chu with or without a microphone, so if you want to use this for phone calls too, make sure to buy that version. Voices are picked up well by the microphone, and it handles ambient noise well enough that it won’t mask your voice.
Moondrop Chu microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Moondrop Chu microphone demo (Office conditions):
Moondrop Chu microphone demo (Street conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
How is the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) for sleeping?
A lot of people can attest to having fallen asleep wearing their Apple AirPods Pro, whether in bed, on the bus, or on a plane. It’s a popular pair of earbuds, so it’s bound to happen. The consensus seems to be that it’s fairly comfortable to fall asleep while wearing the AirPods Pro, but not if you put pressure on the earbuds by sleeping on your side. The second generation of the AirPods Pro also comes with another size of ear tips, so you can choose from more fit options to stay comfortable. It also has great isolation and noise cancelling, so you can quietly enjoy your rest.
You can manage to sleep comfortably wearing a pair of AirPods Pro by wearing only a single earbud if you’re sleeping on one side, or wearing both earbuds if you sleep on your back or upright. Just make sure you don’t accidentally fire off gestures in your sleep, you don’t want to max out your volume without realizing. A major caveat here is the battery life, which is only about 6 hours, so your AirPods Pro will die before you wake up.
The best headphones for sleeping: Notable mentions
- Sony WF-1000XM4: The Sony WF-1000XM4 has great noise cancelling and comfortable memory foam ear tips, making these great for back sleepers or sleeping on commutes. It’s available for $178 at Amazon.
- Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro: While the battery life of 4 hours, 50 minutes isn’t great, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is super comfortable. This is another great pair of earbuds that will take you through your commute naps with great noise cancelling. It’s ideal for Samsung phone users, since they will get the most out of these earbuds. Pick it up for $189.99 at Amazon.
- Google Pixel Buds Pro: The 7 hour battery life won’t quite get you through a whole night of sleep, but the fairly low profile of the Pixel Buds Pro could be good for sleeping, as well as the good noise cancelling. You can purchase it for $192.5 at Amazon.
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: Another good transit or plane sleeping companion, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have really good ANC and a battery life of 7 hours, 15 minutes. You can get it for $279 at Amazon.
- Sony WH-1000XM5: In the same vein as the rest of the notable mentions, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is ideal for sleeping upright or on your back. It has top-of-the-line noise cancelling, sounds great, and has a long battery life of just under 32 hours. It’s pretty pricey at $398 at Amazon.
- Sony WH-1000XM4: I’ve fallen asleep in my Sony WH-1000XM4 many times since I bought them, and it’s a very comfortable pair of headphones for sleeping upright or on your back. The noise cancelling is perfectly good for blocking out any annoying noises for when you need to take a nap. It’s a bit more affordable than its successor at $299 at Amazon.
- Anker Soundcore Life Q20: A way more affordable option for noise cancelling headphones for sleeping upright or on your back, the Soundcore Life Q20 has solid noise cancelling for the price of $59.99 at Amazon.
What you should know about the best headphones for sleeping
Low profile earbuds are best for side sleepers
When looking for earbuds to sleep in, you want to make sure they don’t stick out of your ears too much so you can sleep in any position without pain. If you’re looking for earbuds for sleeping that double as everyday earbuds, finding something with a low profile is key. If you’re looking for headphones for only sleep use, there are headband-style headphones for sleeping that are comfortable in any position.
Back sleepers have more options
Sleeping on your back obviously makes this easier, since you don’t have to worry so much about your earbuds or headphones hurting your ears while you sleep. You can get away with pretty much any wireless earbuds or headphones if you’re a back sleeper, as long as it has ample battery life (over 8 hours), and fits comfortably on your ears. The world is your oyster, as you can consider more affordable headphones, or top of the line noise cancelling earbuds.
Battery life should last you all night
You can wear wired headphones to bed, and our top pick is, indeed, a pair of wired earbuds. But if getting tangled in wires is a concern, wireless headphones are the way to go.
The caveat there is that you don’t want your headphones dying on you while you’re sleeping, unless you just need headphones to lull you to sleep for a short amount of time. On average, adults should be getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, so your headphones should accommodate that, and more. Some people take a while to fall asleep and need an hour of buffer time with their headphone battery life, and many people need more than just seven hours of sleep. Aim for headphones with a battery life of 10 hours at least, since that gives you enough time to fall asleep, and can accommodate people who sleep closer to nine hours a night.
Mono and stereo listening
As a side sleeper, when I’ve slept in earbuds I take out one of the earbuds so I can rest comfortably on the pillow while listening to music through one ear. If this is what you want to do with your earbuds, it’s a good idea to change your audio settings to mono, so you’re not just getting one channel of audio through your earbuds while you sleep. You can do this by going into the audio section of your phone’s accessibility settings. If you never move your head around at night, some earbuds have a single earbud listening mode that allows you to have mono sound through one earbud.
Noise cancelling vs isolation
Passive isolation and ANC both keep sounds out of your ears to ensure a restful sleep, but they work differently. Passive isolation uses a physical barrier to keep sound out, so the fit of your ear tips or the seal of your headphones matters a lot. ANC cancels out noise using inverse frequencies to what’s going on around you—it will keep out droning noises your headphones can pick up and cancel out, but incidental noises muffled better by passive isolation. The best way to keep sound out is with headphones or earbuds that have really good passive isolation, along with ANC.
How we test the best headphones for sleeping
At SoundGuys, we perform objective tests to measure things like frequency response, isolation, microphone quality, and more. To do so, we use a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 head and torso simulator (HATS) with an anatomically realistic ear canal and outer ear. After we collect all of this data, we then score each product through various objective and subjective measures. When it comes to things we aren’t able to test hands-on, we do diligent research in order to find the products that best fit your needs.
How we choose the best headphones for sleeping
Based on our objective testing and uses of the products, we choose which products fit each criteria a person might need to fulfill. Our team confers with one another regarding the best products for a given category before presenting our list to you. It’s not over after we hit “publish,” though. We treat every article as a living document, and update it as new and worthy products come out.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
Each writer at SoundGuys has accumulated years of experience reporting on the consumer audio market, and our staff adheres to a strict ethics policy. Our team doesn’t directly sell any products or have any personal financial stake in whether you make a purchase. We pride ourselves on transparently outlining objective facts, while accounting for the subjective experience to contextualize an audio product’s performance. When we do misspeak, we correct and own up to it.
Frequently asked questions
Ear plugs are a great option if you just want to block out noises while you sleep. Foam ear plugs are affordable and easy to use, and you can also find reusable silicone ear plugs.
A pair of headband-style headphones like the SleepPhones Wireless is probably the best option for people who tend to toss and turn, since earbuds might easily become dislodged and over-ear headphones will get in your way.