What Happens If You Sleep With Earphones in? the Worst Things to Happen

what happens if you sleep with earphones in

What Happens If You Sleep With Earphones in?

If you’re one of those people who just can’t sleep without some form of background noise, you might be wondering if it’s safe to fall asleep with earphones in.

But what really happens if you sleep with earphones in? Are there any risks involved?

In this article, we’ll take a look at what could happen if you do choose to drift off to sleep with earphones in. We’ll also give you some tips on how to stay safe if you can’t sleep without some form of background noise.

What happens if you sleep with earphones in?

Sleeping with earphones in can have various harmful effects on your health. Prolonged exposure to sounds at high volume can damage your hearing, leading to hearing loss over time. Furthermore, it may also cause otitis externa, a condition where the skin in your ear canal becomes irritated, resulting in pain and fluid leakage. In addition, wearing earphones while sleeping can block air circulation in your ears, leading to a buildup of earwax.

sleep with earphones in
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You may also be at risk of strangulation if the headphone wires get wrapped around your throat or limbs while you sleep. Finally, sleeping with earphones also hinders your awareness of any potential emergencies.

How do earphones affect sleep quality?

Earphones can have both positive and negative effects on sleep quality. On the one hand, they can provide better sound quality than other devices and may help block out ambient noise. This can make it easier and quicker to fall asleep, as the music can reduce stress levels especially if you listen to white noise meditation.

On the other hand, sleeping with earphones in can increase the risk of hearing problems due to the prolonged listening period and decreased ear resistance during sleep. Additionally, research has found that listening to music just before sleeping can lead to worse-quality sleep.

Can you sleep with music in your ears?

Some people are able to sleep with music playing in the background, while others find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep with music in their ears. Some studies suggest that calming music can help promote relaxation and sleep, while others suggest that music with lyrics or a fast tempo can be stimulating and make it harder to sleep.

If you are considering sleeping with music in your ears, it’s important to choose music or white noise that you find relaxing and soothing, and to keep the volume low enough to avoid any potential hearing damage.

Is it bad to sleep with earbuds in?

Sleeping with earphones in can have a range of consequences, from minor to potentially serious. These can include irritation of the ear canal, hearing loss, reduced quality of sleep, involuntary musical imagery (i.e. ‘earworms’), fatal electrocution, accidental swallowing of earbuds, and potential health risks associated with radio waves (such as Bluetooth).

What are the risks of sleeping with earphones in?

1. Disturbed Sleep

The risks of disturbed sleep caused by sleeping with earphones in can be serious. Wearing headphones to sleep can lead to physiological changes and chronic health conditions. Studies have shown that sleeping with earphones in can lead to sleep apnea, which can have dangerous symptoms if left untreated.

It can also disrupt your sleep cycle, as your body may not recognize when it’s time to sleep due to the constant white noise or music. Additionally, the habit of using earphones to sleep can cause your body to become dependent on the sound in order to fall asleep, making it difficult to break the habit.

2. Headaches

Sleeping with earphones can cause a headache for a variety of reasons:

  1. Pressure on the ear: The pressure of the earphone or earbud in your ear can cause discomfort and lead to headaches, especially if you sleep on your side or in a position that puts pressure on your ear.
  2. Tightness: If the earphones or earbuds are too tight, they can create tension and cause headaches.
  3. Volume: If you have the volume too loud, it can cause headaches or ear pain, especially if you’re listening to music or other sounds that are too stimulating for sleep.

If you’re experiencing headaches after sleeping with earphones, it’s best to stop using them while sleeping. Try using other methods to help you fall asleep, such as white noise machines or calming music played through a speaker.

To avoid these adverse effects, one should consider using specially designed earbuds that are softer and cause less pressure on the ear, or even sleeping eye masks that play music.

3. Increased Stress Levels

Using headphones over extended periods of time can cause hyperacusis, a heightened sensitivity to sound, which can increase stress levels when sleeping. It can also take up valuable mental space in the brain, preventing people from winding down and relaxing before sleep, as they are constantly distracted by everyday thoughts. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep with increased stress levels.

4. Damage of the ears

The risk of ear damage from sleeping with earphones is very real. Prolonged listening to loud sounds can cause hearing loss, while an ill-fitting pair of earbuds can cause painful swelling and even necrosis (tissue death). In addition, wax buildup can also occur, which can lead to ringing in the ears, slight hearing loss, or a blocked feeling in the ear canal.

Additionally, if water gets trapped in the ear canal, bacteria can grow and lead to an infection known as swimmer’s ear.

5. Hearing Loss

Prolonged use of headphones or earbuds can cause noise-induced hearing loss, hyperacusis (heightened sensitivity to normal sounds), and tinnitus. Bedtime music, when played at too high a volume, can increase the risk of hearing loss, as well as interfere with the quality and duration of sleep.

To reduce the risk of hearing loss, it is recommended to keep the volume of headphones or earbuds at a moderate level, take breaks from listening to music.

woman in white crew neck shirt singing vagus nerve sleep

6. Strangulation Hazard

Sleeping with headphones or earbuds on can be a hazard if the cords are near your head. If you don’t move around much at night, the chances of strangulation are slim. However, if you move around a lot while you sleep, the risk of strangulation increases. To reduce this risk, it’s best to opt for wireless headphones or earbuds like Apple Airpods.

7. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones are designed to reduce background noises like snoring. This is done by finely tuning the headphones to detect low- frequency sounds, such as snoring. Some ANC headphones are even able to block out snoring without playing any music. This can help create a peaceful environment for sleeping, even with a snoring partner present. The active noise-canceling feature in these headphones is also helpful for frequent travelers as it can block out sounds from airplane engines and other passengers.

Furthermore, noise-canceling headphones can help light sleepers by blocking out surrounding noises that would otherwise disturb a natural sleep pattern. The use of noise-canceling headphones may have some safety concerns, such as perceived tinnitus and pressure on the ears after prolonged headphone use.

It is important to consider that wearing noise-canceling headphones decreases one’s awareness of the world around them, such as not being able to hear important sounds like fire alarms, break ins and tornado sirens.

8. Poor Sleep Hygiene

Poor sleep hygiene can have serious effects on sleep quality. When we don’t get enough sleep, or don’t develop healthy sleep habits, our bodies lack the necessary energy and rest to function properly.

Poor sleep hygiene can lead to fatigue, irritability, impaired cognitive functioning, and even an increase in stress. Long-term lack of sleep can contribute to chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression.

9. Increased Risk of Ear Infections

The increased risk of ear infections when sleeping with earphones in is due to a lack of air circulation around the ear, as well as the potential transfer of microorganisms from one person’s ears to another. Prolonged use of headphones can lead to ear wax buildup, which can cause discomfort and impair hearing.

Earbuds that are inserted too deeply into the ear canal can cause inflammation of the external ear canal and tissue degradation. To reduce the risk of ear infections, it is important to ensure that the earbuds fit properly and to avoid sharing headphones.

How to avoid dangers while sleeping with headphones

1. Research headphones safety tips

What safety tips should be researched regarding headphones for sleeping?

  1. Don’t play the music/audio too loud
  2. Go wireless to avoid any wires interfering with your sleep
  3. Keep the volume low by about 40 percent
  4. Avoid using your headphones daily to give your ears some time to rest
  5. Get the right fit for your headphones so they won’t easily fall off while you sleep
  6. Avoid sleeping on your headphones as this will likely cause them to break or bend
  7. Invest in comfortable earbuds and the best sleep earbuds to protect your ears

2. Avoid Strangulation Hazards

The strangulation hazards associated with wearing headphones to bed include the risk of cutting off your oxygen supply and passing out if the strangulation is serious. Wearing wired headphones and having the wire near your head increases the likelihood of this happening.

To reduce this risk altogether, it is best to use wireless headphones, headband headphones with built-in earbuds, or pillow speakers.

3. Consider Sleeping on Your Side

When sleeping on your side is suggested with ruptured eardum, the pressure from the headphones can be concentrated in one spot, causing ear pain and discomfort. To prevent this, it is important to sleep on your side with a pillow that is specifically designed to relieve this pressure. Pillows with an ear hole provide neck support and a convenient pocket to lower your headphones into, which helps to keep the pressure off of your ears while you are sleeping.

4. Invest in a Good Pair of Headphones

Investing in a good pair of headphones for sleep is essential for avoiding potential dangers. The type of headphones should be considered carefully; for example, headphones with rubber or sponge covers should be replaced at least once a month. It is also recommended to use larger headphones instead of small earphones that go directly into your ears.

In order to make sure your headphones are safe to use while sleeping, make sure to buy high-quality headphones that are well-designed for sleeping. This will help reduce any wear and tear that could occur due to tossing and turning.

5. Make Sure Your Headphones are Secure

Step-by-Step Instructions for Making Sure Your Headphones are Secure While Sleeping:

  1. Select a pair of headphones that are well-designed for sleeping. This will help reduce the wear and tear when you toss and turn at night.
  2. Make sure your headphones have the right fit. If they’re too loose, they can easily fall off during the night.
  3. Choose a pair of headphones with a supporting app that can fade out your audio. This way, you won’t miss any emergency situations.

6. Consider Using Ear Plugs

Ear plugs block out external noise, allowing you to sleep peacefully without listening to any noise or music. In this way, ear plugs can help people avoid the potential dangers of hearing loss.

7. Set a Bedtime Routine

When sleeping with headphones, there are a few dangers you should be aware of. To avoid these dangers, develop a bedtime routine that includes taking off your headphones before you drift off to sleep.

8. Earbuds and piercing

Sleeping with a new ear piercing and earbuds at the same time is not recommended. Both activities can potentially cause harm to your ears, and the combination could increase the risk of infection or other complications. When you have a new ear piercing, it’s important to keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection. Sleeping with earbuds can introduce bacteria into the piercing site, which could increase the risk of infection.

It’s generally recommended to avoid sleeping with earbuds or any type of ear jewelry or necklace while you have a new piercing, at least until the piercing has fully healed. This can take several weeks or even months depending on the type of piercing.


What are the best types of earphones for sleeping?

If you’re looking for the best type of earphones to help you get a good night’s rest, there are a few different options.

  1. Headband headphones are a great option for comfort and convenience. The headband is lightweight and the speakers are fitted inside the wide band, making it comfortable to wear even when you’re sleeping on your side.
  2. Low-profile earphones are designed specifically for sleeping. They have soft silicone tips that follow the shape of your ears, providing maximum comfort and barely any feeling of pressure when you turn to the side. Additionally, these earphones are often equipped with a rubber-coated memory wire that can be adjusted for a snug fit.

Both headband headphones and low-profile earphones are excellent options to ensure a good night of restful sleep.

Are wireless earphones safe to sleep with?

The answer is yes, wireless earphones like the Airpods can be a safe option for sleeping. The risk of strangulation or getting injured from wires is significantly reduced when opting for wireless headphones or earbuds. Not only that, but wireless earphones also provide a comfortable listening experience, allowing you to get a good night’s sleep.

If you connect and sleep with your Apple Watch you do not even have to use a phone at night.

Overall, while there are certain risks associated with sleeping with earphones, taking some basic safety measures can reduce them. Wireless headphones and earbuds are a great choice for the safest experience, without compromising on the quality of sound and connection.

Are noise-cancelling headphones good for sleeping?

Noise-cancelling headphones can be a good choice for catching much-needed Zzz’s while travelling or sitting down. Their finely-tuned ability to detect low-frequency sounds like snoring can help reduce background noises and give your ears a well-deserved rest.

Due to their tight seal over the ears, noise-cancelling headphones can make the ears feel hot and stuffy. This can take away from a good night’s sleep.

How loud should earphones be while sleeping?

When it comes to wearing headphones while sleeping, it’s important to take into consideration the type of headphones you’re using and the volume level. Over-the-ear headphones or headbands are the better option over in-ear earbuds. It’s also important to keep the volume at just over half or lower so that it’s not too loud.

An external speaker is the best option since it takes pressure off of your ears and you can set a timer to shut it off once you fall asleep.

The symptoms of earphone-related injury can vary depending on the type of injury sustained. Common symptoms can include unbearable pain in the ears, buzzing or deadness in the ears, numbness and pain in the ears, hearing loss, feeling of a blocked ear canal, itchy and painful ear canal, muffled hearing, lesions or black and brown tissue in the ear canal, and tenderness. If left untreated, these symptoms may cause permanent damage.


By lezt

Lez Taylor, Founder and CEO of Corala Blanket. She tried every sleep system and trick to conquer her insomnia for good.