Is It Safe To Wear Earbuds While Sleeping?


In this day and age, it’s tough to get a great night’s sleep. It’s hard to switch off after a hectic day and your brain is probably still ticking as you jump into bed. Personally, I like to listen to a bit of calm and soothing classical music before I doze off. So the question then is, is it safe to sleep with earbuds on?

It is safe to wear earbuds while sleeping if you take the appropriate precautions. As earbuds are wireless, you don’t need to worry about getting tangled up as you sleep. Just be careful with the volume on your device so you don’t listen to music too loud as you drift off to sleep. 

Read on if you want to know about potential risks and how to sleep with earbuds comfortably.

What Are The Side Effects Of Using Earbuds To Sleep?

There are a number of potential side effects if you wear your earbuds to bed constantly.

  • Damage Your Hearing

While you’re conscious, it’s easy to be aware how loud your music / podcast is, however as you drift off the volume might spike with you actually knowing.

There could a couple reasons for this:

  • The track itself has been recorded differently and not normalised to a standard volume
  • Accidently pushed volume increase button on your phone / device

The likelihood of damaging your hearing while sleeping with earbuds is relatively low. If you’re like me, it’s impossible to sleep with excessive noise and the spike in volume would probably jolt you awake anyway!

  • Build Up Of Earwax

When you sleep with earbuds on, it can block air circulation in and around your ear, leading to a buildup of earwax. If you’re sleeping with them on constantly, this buildup can get firmly packed in your ear canal. Not good for your hearing!

A couple solutions to this – take a break from wearing earbuds to sleep or you’ll need to use some ear drops to help clear it out. Otherwise you’ll need a visit to the doctor to help clear it out!

  • Ear Conditions

If you wear your earbuds for prolonged periods, you can develop some fluid in your ear, leading to inflammation and irritation inside your ear. Medical jargon for this is otitis externa.

Another potential issue is necrosis of the ear tissue. If your earbuds don’t fit well and rub / exert a lot of pressure on the skin in your ear, it can start to wear away the skin. Not good!

If after sleeping with earbuds and you feel any pain or discomfort in your ears, please seek medical help immediately.

  • What Alarm?

If you’ve got some light music playing or even noise cancelling earbuds AND music, then you might not hear an alarm go off in the middle of the night. *touch wood* that doesn’t happen!

If you’re worried about any of these risks then just get a small portable speaker and play it at a low volume to sleep instead.

Hearing For Noise

How Do I Keep My Earbuds From Falling Out In My Sleep?

Now that we have the potential issues out of the way, how do we make earbuds more comfortable so we can actually sleep with them?

Snug Fitting Earbuds

Earbuds generally come with a few different size buds and will fit snugly into your ear. With a bit of trial and error, you should be able to find one that fits nicely in your ear while you sleep. 

One trick is to also put them in a specific way as well – pull your earlobe down diagonally to open the ear canal slightly and lightly push the earbuds in. Do a bit of a boogie and if they don’t fall out, you’re good to go (to sleep 😂).

If all else fails and you have some cash to splash, you can actually get custom-made earbuds!

Invest In New Pillow

You have a couple options here, there’s The Original Pillow With A Hole or a travel pillow.

Starting with “The Original Pillow With A Hole”, it has been designed to remove pressure on the ear while you sleep. Originally made for people with ear issues, this will help you not crush the earbud into your ear while you sleep.

The alternative is a travel pillow which will help you sleep in a more upright position or if you sleep on your side. Again, this is to help you avoid squashing your earbuds while you sleep. 

Personally, I would opt for the first option as I don’t sleep very well when I’m using a travel pillow on flights!

Try Ear Wings or Ear Hooks

What’s the difference between ear wings and ear hooks? Ear wings fit on the inside of your ear to keep your earbuds in place whilst the ear hook sits behind your ear.  Here is an example of the Powerbeats with ear hooks:

Powerbeat Headphones with Ear Hooks

To be honest, I think true wireless earbuds would be more comfortable to sleep in than these, but everyone has different ears!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it bad to listen to music while sleeping?

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for good health. If music can help you drift off at night, why not?

According to Michael Breus, Ph.D, there is data that suggests that music can help people to fall asleep. A recent meta-analysis of music-sleep studies found that music helped people with both short-term and chronic sleep problems fall asleep easier.

You’ll need to be listening to relaxing music to help you slowly wind down, clearly the latest Tiesto track will not 😂!

Noise cancelling earbuds is also a great shout. It can help block out any traffic, noisy neighbors or snoring partners! The only downside of pure wireless noise cancelling earbuds is the battery life which might not last the night. 

What should I listen to for deep sleep?

There is a specific type of deep sleep music that is helpful for getting a good night’s rest. There are two types; isochronic tones and binaural beats.

Isochronic tones are basically a regular beat of a single tone and often layered with a gentle backdrop of nature or ocean noises. They are meant to stimulate brain waves that help start the sleep process.

Binaural beats on the other hand use two tones, one in each ear that is slightly different frequency. I won’t bore you with all the science and theory, but again this is meant to induce sleep using an auditory stimulus.

Related article – Best Headphones For Binaural Beats

You’ll be able to find examples of both on Spotify and Youtube.

Lady wearing white in deep sleep

Final Thoughts

Getting a good night’s sleep is a valuable commodity in the 21st Century. With a few precautions you will be able to wear earbuds while sleeping. Just remember to keep the volume low (which is probably conducive to sleep anyway!) and will help prevent any damage to your hearing.

Jayden Smith

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.

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