How to Sleep With Headphones (Without Breaking Them)

Sleeping with headphones lulls you to sleep and helps avoid interference if you’re sharing your bed or bedroom with another person. Unfortunately, many people wake up to find their headphones broken after sleeping with them. So is it possible to sleep with headphones and not break them?

Here’s how to sleep with headphones without breaking them:

  1. Switch to a new sleeping position
  2. Ensure the headphones are well fitted
  3. Get the right pillow
  4. Get some sleep-friendly headphones

If you badly want to sleep with your headphones but fear breaking them, this guide will help you know how you can do it. You’ll also learn whether it’s safe to sleep with them or not. Additionally, you’ll get some good alternatives for sleeping with headphones.

1. Switch to a New Sleeping Position

Switching to a new sleeping position is one of the quickest options for sleeping with your headphones, as it doesn’t require special equipment. Back sleepers can sleep with any kind of headphones without any kind of discomfort. And in the morning, their headphones will still be intact.

If you love sleeping on your stomach or sides, there’s a very high probability of your headphones breaking when you sleep with them. The headphones will also come out very easily.

However, since it’s impossible to sleep in a single position all night long when you’re not used to it, you might want to try other methods.

2. Ensure the Headphones Are Well Fitted

If you don’t fit your headphones properly, they can easily break no matter how you try to avoid that. When buying them, make sure they fit tightly and snug. They should also remain in the same position even when you’re in movement.

Additionally, they shouldn’t cause any discomfort. Headphones that don’t fit correctly are easily breakable as they’re more likely to move out of place as you sleep.

3. Get the Right Pillow

Many pillow manufactures don’t consider people who’d want to sleep with their headphones. That’s why you won’t be comfortable if you use the regular pillows. These pillows create pressure that damages the headphones and presses the ears, making you uncomfortable.

There are special pillows whose design favors people who love sleeping with their headphones. Some of these include:

Pillows With a Hole

Pillows With a Holes leave some space around the ear and are mostly used by people who have ear problems or those recovering from ear surgery. However, they’re also perfect when it comes to sleeping with headphones.

The Original Pillow With a Hole, available from and made in England, was the first brand to make these kinds of pillows. Their pillows are made of cotton and are odor-resistant.

Unfortunately, not everyone finds pillows with a hole comfortable. Try them out, and if they offer the comfort you need when sleeping, then you’ll have gotten a solution to sleeping with your headphones on.

Still, if your headphones have very large earpieces, these pillows may not be of much help. In this case, try out other options.

Travel Pillow

If you’re sleeping upright or on your side, travel pillows will make it easy for you to use your headphones. For example, if you’re sleeping upright during a flight, the head can sway in all directions since you lose control of the neck.

This makes the headphones come into contact with the shoulders, causing discomfort and potentially breaking them.

A traveling pillow, like MLVOC Travel Pillow, fits around the neck and provides a resting area for the chin and the jaw. That means the headphones won’t come into contact with the shoulders.

When sleeping on the side, these pillows provide a hole in the middle where headphones slot in. They’re also a good alternative to pillows with a hole. However, these pillows will only be useful if you’re not the kind of person who tosses and turns at night.

4. Get Some Sleep-Friendly Headphones

Headphones aren’t made equal. Based on their designs, some are much better when it comes to sleeping while others are not. For example, regular headphones aren’t very good for sleeping unless you can sleep on your back the entire night.

When you sleep on the side or stomach, the earpiece may get pushed into the ear, causing pain or sensitivity. Still, the headphones can break very easily.

The solution to this problem is getting sleep-friendly headphones. However, be ready to part with more cash. Some of these headphones include:

Wireless Headphones

Unlike traditional headphones, wireless headphones don’t have cords which make them very comfortable to sleep with. They also fit in the ear snugly. However, if you’re a side sleeper, these headphones may still make you uncomfortable.

Some wireless headphones also have noise-canceling features, which help a person sleep without interference from external noise.

Headband Headphones

Headband headphones are made of fabric and ultra-slim padded speakers. They’re usually wrapped around the head and are very comfortable to sleep with. Some are made of a breathable material which makes them even more comfortable.

A good example is the Perytong Bluetooth Sports Headband Headphones. They have ultra-thin speakers – perfect for sleeping in, and the fabric is breathable, therefore, very comfy especially during hot seasons.

Sleep Earbuds

Sleep earbuds, like their name implies, are designed specifically for use while sleeping. They are so small that even when you sleep on the side, no pressure will be applied to them by a pillow. They fit snugly in the ear, ensuring that you’re comfortable no matter the position you choose to sleep in.

Is It Safe to Sleep With Headphones On?

Sleeping with headphones is considered safe unless you wear them incorrectly or use them for a very long time. If you do so, they can cause hearing loss, wax buildup, or a condition called Otitis Externa. They could even be a strangulation hazard!

Let’s examine each of these potential issues in more detail.

Hearing Loss

If you put your headphone’s volume too loud, you risk developing hearing loss. The recommended maximum music volume is 85 decibels, and anything beyond that can cause permanent hearing loss.

Wax Buildup

People who overuse headphones are at more risk of developing wax buildup. This happens when the earphones prevent the proper circulation of air inside the ear. Wax buildup can lead to problems like ear pain, irritation, and in worst cases, hearing loss.

Otitis Externa

Otitis externa is an ear infection that develops when the ear is exposed to excessive moisture. When a person uses headphones for a very long time, the ear canal’s skin tends to wear out, making the ear unable to keep fluids out.

This condition is very painful and often associated with symptoms like itching, redness, and pus discharge.


Strangulation by headphones is rare, but it can happen. Headphones with chords can tangle the neck or another part of the body, restricting blood flow as you sleep, which can be very dangerous. If you’re a rough sleeper, you might want to consider getting wireless headphones.

Sleeping with headphones could also cause some problems not related to health. For example, if you wear them, you can fail to hear sirens, alarms, or a call for help.

Although sleeping with headphones presents some risks, you can still use them without putting your health at risk by adhering to the following guidelines from the World Health Organization.

The Benefits of Sleeping With Headphones On

There are several benefits associated with sleeping with headphones on. These include:

Noise-Canceling Properties

Do you get easily awakened at night by certain noises? Or do you live in a noisy place where catching some sleep is often an uphill task?

Noise-canceling headphones will save you from these problems. These headphones block out any exterior noise such as conversations and noise from cars.

If you have neighbors whose all-night partying interferes with your sleep, wearing noise-canceling headphones can save you from the trouble.

Similarly, if your partner snores and it makes you uncomfortable, these devices will come in handy.

Helps With Relaxation

Music has been proven to offer relaxation and calm. Good, relaxing music slows down breathing and heart rate, letting you release the stress of the day and catch sleep faster. Listening to audiobooks or podcasts can also help you relax and learn at the same time.

Better Sleep

According to research, white noise can greatly increase the quality of sleep for some people. It enables a person to sleep faster and longer. Therefore, if you struggle to get sleep or keep on waking up from time to time, a pair of headphones playing white noise might be the solution you need.

Happy Brain Chemicals

When you listen to music, the brain releases dopamine, which is associated with feeling good. This is the same neurotransmitter released when you hit a particular goal or enjoy a delicious meal. Feeling good makes it easy to catch sleep.

Alternatives for Sleeping With Headphones

Do you feel like sleeping with headphones isn’t right for you? There are several alternatives you can try out. These include:

  • Playing music on a portable speaker or stereo.
  • Listening to music from your phone.
  • Buying a white noise machine.

The above methods may not offer all the benefits headphones offer, but they’re a good backup option. For example, listening to music from your phone means that others also have to hear it, which could be problematic unless you live alone or you and your roommates/partner share similar tastes and bedtime habits.


Music and sound form very crucial aspects of a person’s life. Listening to music using headphones when sleeping offers several benefits, such as improving relaxation, helping you catch sleep faster, and sleeping longer.

You only need to learn how to comfortably sleep with them without breaking them or putting your health at risk.

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