Do Headphones Help You Focus?

Many of us enjoy listening to music through a pair of headphones while working, commuting, exercising, or putting together a delicious meal. But do headphones help us focus?

Yes, headphones do help you focus because they help block out distractions from your surrounding environment. They can either help keep noise levels down by blocking out your external environment or the music helps make any task enjoyable and keeps distractions at bay.

Headphones curate immersive experiences, but can they optimize focus? The research looks promising! Below, we examine how best to use headphones for a boost in concentration and productivity.

How Do Headphones Help You Focus?

There is no doubt that headphones are a great de-stressor, confidence booster, relaxer, noise abatement tool, and concentration aid. So, how could headphones help you focus on your chosen endeavor? The answer to this question depends on your preferences.

Some people need music to stimulate their creative juices at work, while others thrive on total silence to operate productively. The rise in modern headphones incorporating noise-cancellation technology makes both functions possible. 

Headphones effortlessly cancel out distractions and help you concentrate on the task at hand, whether you want to do that in delightful silence or with an inspirational backtrack.

Interestingly, newer headphones have begun to use ear cushions with dry electrodes, a technology that allows the device to read brain waves and assess productivity. Neurable developed these new-to-market headphones, Enten, in 2017. The headphones work by tapping into a computer-brain interface technology that learns how your brain functions to enable higher performance in the future.

If you do not yet have access to this kind of technology, you may be wondering whether regular headphones are still worth it.

Interesting read – Why Does Music Sound Better With Headphones?

Woman studying in the park

So, how exactly do headphones help you focus? Here are four benefits:

1. Headphones Block Ambient Noise and Improve Sound Quality

Headphones create a private space, a feeling of isolation that magnifies your microenvironment as all that matters. When you put headphones on, the brain can concentrate on the music, the podcast, or the silence (depending on your personal preference). Nothing else needs to enter that space, not work colleagues’ voices, passing traffic, or other ambient noises.

Noise-canceling headphones also improve the quality of the sounds you hear through these devices by eliminating those annoying, high-pitched background noises.

Let the distractions fade into the distance, and work in peace.

Related article – Best Headphones For Coding And Programming

2. Headphones Improve Productivity

There are countless benefits for productivity when listening to music or taking advantage of noise-canceling headphones. 

Research supports this idea, like the recent Cloud Cover Music survey of 1005 office workers. The study showed that 78.4% and 80.5% of workers believed that listening to music and audiobooks, respectively, increased their workplace productivity. Looking at it differently, only 1 in 10 workers believed it decreased their productivity!

Other audio technology, such as wireless headphones, also keeps hands free and simplifies multitasking.

Related article – Best Headsets For Working From Home

3. Headphones Correct Your Posture (They Do!)

A surprising benefit of wearing headphones is that they avoid the inconvenience of putting a phone to your ear with a free hand every time you answer a call.

Depending on your lifestyle or job, repetitive, muscle-straining actions like these could easily lead to fatigue and overuse injuries or chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain. Wearing wireless earbuds or headphones eliminates that stress, saving time and helping you maintain a healthy posture during the workday.

4. Headphones Make It Easier to Move Around

Lastly, comfortable wireless headphones make it effortless to move around while working, exercising, or carrying out other tasks that need mobility. Now, you can take a call while walking or running on the treadmill. You can also multitask around the home or office with maximum efficiency.

Reading a book with headphones on

Wireless Earbuds or Headphones: Which Is Better?

Will wireless earbuds be sufficient, or do headphones help you focus better? For wireless technology, as with most things in life, the choice depends solely on user preference.

Wireless earbuds are discrete, and nobody will notice you wearing these fixtures at the gym or office. Earbuds also provide an excellent balance between affordability and performance, especially for active people. They will not interfere with workout routines and are far more comfortable than a bulkier pair of headphones.

Although they may cost more, wireless headphones are still the best choice for both sound quality and noise cancellation. If you happen to be one of those people who can’t stand wearing something in the ear for extended periods, or you appreciate an earpiece with decent battery life, wireless headphones are highly preferable.

What Should You Listen To With Headphones?

Focus Music

The music you love makes a task seem less like a chore. Pop on the headphones with a favorite song or knuckle down with classical music, ambient music, and nature sounds that:

  • aid concentration;
  • promote calmness; and
  • spike productivity

Here’s a personal favorite when I’m trying to focus:


If you are one of the people who work better without any sound, noise cancellation headphones eliminate distractions and maximize your focus.


Listening to an audiobook while you work, drive, run, or walk is great for concentration. The brain processes a lot of information simultaneously, and research shows that this type of listening helps streamline different perspectives into one easy-to-understand package.


Studies confirm that podcasts and audiobooks stimulate mental imagery, causing listeners to:

  • use their imagination;
  • pay attention; and
  • focus on manual tasks while absorbing what the broadcaster is saying

Binaural Beats

Binaural beats are ideal for people who suffer from stress or anxiety. However, more people use them as a concentration aid than ever before. Binaural beats place you in the moment, forcing you to pay closer attention to your task, improving your mood, and boosting your motivation.

Related article – Best Headphones For Binaural Beats

Focusing with headphones on

What Kinds of Music Can Help You Focus?

Classical Music

The 2007 Stanford University School of Medicine study showed that classical music enables the brain to absorb new information easily. It improves concentration and productivity.

White Noise

How do headphones help you focus with white noise technology? Ambient sounds include TV static or the noise from a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner. People wear headphones to zone in on this ‘white noise’ as a sleep aid or improve focus, and the results are impressive.

Related article – Best Earbuds for Sleeping Without Disturbances

Nature Sounds

Soothing sounds like a fountain, rain, waterfalls, or ocean waves promote a sense of calm. Listening to nature’s sounds on headphones improves focus and concentration by enhancing cognitive function.

Epic Music

There is nothing better than experiencing amazing sounds through a pair of headphones. Epic tracks to try include Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and Verdi’s Aida. Close your eyes and absorb the energy these tracks provide to increase your motivation and complete any task with flair.

I’m a big fan of epic fantasy battle songs too! 🤓

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Wearing Headphones Or Earphones Damage The Brain?

Do headphones help you focus but open you up to other risks?

No, wearing headphones or earphones will not damage the body or dim your cognitive abilities. It is safe to use headsets at a reasonable volume setting long-term.

Related article – Are Headphones Bad For Your Brain?

Is It Unhealthy To Wear Headphones All Day?

In principle, wearing headphones throughout the day will not be damaging to you. However, taking breaks between sessions can stimulate your focus even more effectively. You will also want to adhere to the recommended noise levels (100 decibels or less) to avoid damaging the ears over time.

Hygienic headphones also help. Clean the headphones or earpiece thoroughly to avoid health consequences, like ear infections.

Are Noise-Canceling Headphones Bad For The Ears?

No, noise-canceling headphones are entirely safe. These headphones are beneficial for ears as they block ambient noise, assuming you keep the volume of your music to acceptable levels!

Final Thoughts

The trend toward open-plan offices, AI and AR gaming, and remote working makes the case for headphones even more convincing. Technavio predicts the market will increase by $10 billion from 2021 to 2026 as introverts, office workers, and music lovers curate the perfect listening experience for their needs.

So, do headphones help you focus by keeping out the noise and boosting productivity? Absolutely.

Hi, I am Jayden. I have a strong interest in the latest hearing electronics including headphones, earbuds, headsets and speakers. I love to research and write information about them on a part-time basis sharing some tips for beginners looking for the perfect device.