Is It Safe to Sleep with Earbuds In? [Complete Guide to Better Sleep]

Nowadays, it’s almost like a ritual for us to fall asleep while listening to our favorite songs. And to be honest, that does bring peace of mind for the time being. But it’s also important to remember that our ears are pretty delicate organs. So, is it safe to sleep with earbuds in?

While it’s definitely manageable if used properly, sleeping with earbuds in isn’t exactly highly recommended by the professionals.

Continuous exposure to intense noise can cause sustainable harm to the inner balance of your ears. It can cause you to turn deaf as well.

However, that’s not something you have to worry about right off the bat. A lot of factors including build quality play into the equation in terms of both safety and usage.

So, let’s take a look into how earbuds work to figure out whether they are truly safe for the ears.

Is It Ok to Sleep with Earbuds In?

Is It Safe to Sleep with Earbuds In

Whether or not it is completely safe, depends solely on your usage. For instance – some high dosage medicine can cure someone’s disease when taken according to the doctor’s instructions. While, on the other hand, the same dosage can make a healthy person sick.

A similar concept applies to the case of sleeping with headphones in. Lots of people prefer to sleep with headphones or earbuds for various reasons. Some of these reasons include:

1. To Fall Asleep Faster

As mentioned just above, many of us are now pretty much accustomed to putting on a favorite playlist before sleeping. We cannot seem to fall asleep unless we get to hear the familiar sounds of our favorite songs. As a result, the best earbuds can help us to fall asleep faster.

In fact, multiple studies confirm that familiar sounds can make us much more relaxed and calmer. That’s why once we get used to a certain style of falling asleep, it becomes hard to get rid of that habit. And so, we eventually end up putting the earbuds on before going to sleep.

2. To Block Off the Noise

Another prominent reason why we like to put on earbuds before sleeping – blocking the external noise off. It’s quite a bit of irony though if you think about it. We eventually end up using more noise to stay away from the already persisting noise around us.

But no, it is different in a way. And to know why it is different, you’ll have to read up on melodious noise and harsh noise. That way, you’ll also find out why the first one is so much more preferable and healthier than the latter.

3. Medical Reasons

Finally, several people are indeed medically advised to listen to soothing sounds before they go to sleep. Apparently, the sound helps with the high level of stress and anxiety. Because well, let’s face it.

Who can actually fall asleep when they have hundreds of negative thoughts roaming around in their head? Precisely.

People who severely suffer from such high anxiety need to put their earbuds in for a good night’s sleep. Again, the same stands true for insomnia patients as well.

All in all, the point is that earbuds during sleeping are often a normal occurrence for multiple people. And they don’t even think of it as a threat to their health or anything like that. So, that brings up an important question, is it bad to sleep with earbuds in? If so, why?

Because we have already deduced from the above points that it’s definitely okay to fall asleep with earbuds in. In fact, thousands of people around the world are actively practicing it every night or before sleeping.

So, at what point does it go from okay to bad? When does the act of listening to music before sleeping go from being therapeutic to a threat to one’s health? That’s exactly what we have to find out in today’s discussion.

What Happens If You Sleep with Earphones In?

To determine whether it is inherently bad, we need to know what happens when you fall asleep with earbuds in.

So, here’s a brief overview of what happens when you keep the earbuds in for a long long time. Read up to see what you have been putting yourself through all this while.

When you’re putting the earbuds in, they are practically acting like a seal to the entrance of your ears.

In fact, if you have some earbuds nearby, you can try them out instantly to see if that’s the case. You’ll find that both your ear entrances are now fully covered with the buds.

And while that certainly is the goal of earphones, they also affect the circulation of air in your ear. That’s right. Proper circulation isn’t only necessary for your bloodstream or for healthy lungs. Your ears need them too.

Because without proper ventilation, you end up creating this vacuum space inside your ears. And that can lead to pressure build-up over time. Now, if you keep the earbuds in for only a few minutes or so, you won’t even notice this build-up.

But if they are kept in for hours on end, you’ll start to feel this emptiness inside the ears. There’s no more ventilation, only the sound of the music bouncing around from one wall to the next. And you face the repercussions of that emptiness when you take the earbuds out.

For instance – have you ever experienced this soft ringing inside your ears? Even when you’re not listening to any music or audio in particular? That’s commonly known as phantom ringing and it’s a significant trait of two foreseeable conditions.

The first is hearing loss and the other one is schizophrenia. People start to hear an ethereal sound from time to time even though there’s no real-life existence of it. But don’t worry. There’s no direct correlation between using earbuds and developing schizophrenia.

Hearing loss, on the other hand, is a very real possibility. The ringing in your ears is more or less a sign of caution. As in, it’s a signal your body is giving so that you can realize what’s been going on. And if you still choose to ignore it, who knows what may happen in the future.

Dangerous Effects of Sleeping with Earbuds In

So far, you have found out what normally happens if you become too attached to your earbuds. But using earbuds incessantly can sometimes lead to something even greater in magnitude than just some phantom ringing from time to time.

So, let’s have a look at some of the really dangerous effects of sleeping with earbuds in, shall we?

Accumulation of Excessive Ear Wax

Excessive ear wax accumulation is one of the most common side-effects of sleeping with earbuds. And so many people don’t even seem to acknowledge it due to a lack of sheer knowledge. Remember how earbuds prohibited the lack of ventilation in your ears?

Well, the aggressive ear wax accumulation is kind of a direct by-product of that phenomenon. And it doesn’t just happen in one simple way. Nope. Over the months, you’ll continue to develop ear wax in a massive amount in more ways than one.

Here are a few known ways how using earbuds cause the accumulation of excessive ear wax:

By Stopping Circulation: The whole point of ventilation is to make sure that dirt, dust, etc. have a way out of the ear. And most often than not, some of these dust particles get trapped inside the ears. These particles are what develop into ear wax later on.

So, by putting the earbuds in, you are preventing the proper ventilation i.e. circulation inside the ear. The dust particles that already got in now have no way of getting out normally, do they? As a result, they just settle down and build up as wax over time.

By Pressing The Wax Against the Eardrums: While getting out ear wax, you must have noticed how some wax is much further in than the rest. Needless to say, they are much harder to get out too as there’s the risk of accidentally poking the eardrums.

You then have to contact a professional and go for one of those candle methods to remove the denser wax. And consistently using earbuds certainly doesn’t help with this situation.

Why do you ask? Well, how about the fact that they actively press against your eardrums when they are inside? That’s right. When you’re sleeping with earbuds, the constant sound waves are pressing all the particles inside the ear forward.

And by forward, towards the inner ears or eardrums. You may not feel it instantly, but you’ll realize it when you go to clean your ears. Big chunks of wax will come out with every cleaning and you’ll find that they are all compressed together.

In fact, if you ignore this situation for too long, the excessive accumulation can actually cause hearing problems. It also gets much harder to get them out properly as they are much further in than usual.

And if they are actively pressed against the eardrum, you run the risk of popping the drums accidentally. You can only imagine how much pain and discomfort that phenomenon could possibly cause to you.


Necrosis refers to the death of your living tissues. When a certain organ or region is substantially harmed, the tissues in that region can often go through necrosis. If the rate of healing isn’t as persistent as the rate of decomposing, all the tissues may end up dead.

As a result, if something is preventing the healing, necrosis may occur faster. And consistently using earbuds can act as one such catalyst or accelerator.

For instance, imagine that you just underwent a major ear canal surgery. You need to heal properly before exerting the pressure limit in your ear, right? Because if you don’t give it enough time to heal, the condition of the wound may just worsen over time.

So, if you continue to use earbuds on top of this, that precise scenario is going to happen. The excessive pressure from the sound waves will continue to press against the ear canal and drums.

And then, the already injured tissues just won’t have enough strength to heal themselves back. When the rate of healing will start to go down the rate of decomposing, necrosis will begin. Parts of the tissues will wear off completely and the others will follow. You will then need surgery to get rid of the damaged tissues.

Otitis Externa

This is another physical ear problem that most earbud users aren’t aware of. And it can especially happen to those people who fell asleep with earbuds in. It’s basically a form of ear canal irritation that can cause itchiness, dampness, and massive pain to the outer ears.

Human ears tend to maintain an inner balance that balances out the outer pressure from the inner one. Doing so protects the ears from any substantial sound-related injuries and keeps your hearing abilities secure.

When the pressure breaks out, we refer to it as an eardrum burst. And if you have experienced it personally, you may remember how it just pops and releases the pressure.

Anyway, the point is that wearing earbuds for hours with loud sounds tends to mess with this internal pressure. The aggressive sound waves continue to push against the walls and canals which results in uncomfortable itchiness.

The inner ear may also unusually feel dampened at times. All these are signs of otitis externa which is practically a signal that your eardrums are suffering a lot. And if you let it go on, not only can your eardrums burst but can also suffer from necrosis.

When that happens, you’ll bleed a lot and it may cause permanent damage to your ears. Surgeries are often the only option in situations like these.

The answer to ‘Is It Safe to Sleep with Earbuds In?’ isn’t looking so great now, is it?

Physical Safety

Let’s talk about the external safety issues now, shall we? And buckle up, because this one’s the most threatening so far.

People wear earbuds so that they can finally leave the hassles of real life behind. So that they can finally drown in the sea of their favorite sound, music, etc. And while that’s great for the time being, it can also cause them to let their shield down and get injured.

Have you never heard of those incidents where people got hit by a truck from nowhere? And then the authorities later found out that it was because they had earphones in. They never heard the signals or the truck coming while jogging by the track.

Needless to say, how far more dangerous the situation is when you’re asleep. You’re technically not even conscious! What if there’s a fire nearby and you couldn’t hear all the sirens and scream in time? Just shudders to think what could possibly happen then.

Again, if you live with someone, they could have a heart or asthma attack while sleeping. What would happen if you couldn’t hear them in time to take them to the hospital?

Precisely. This is why it’s important to always lower the sound while you’re using earbuds. So that, even if you’re using them, you’re not completely aloof from the outside world. After all, it’s better to remain safe than sorry, right?

Earbuds You Can Sleep In

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Okay, enough with all the scary talks. Just as there are side effects, there are perfect ways to overcome them as well. So, in this segment, let’s talk about some nice little (and, affordable) earbuds to sleep in.

1. SleepPhones Acoustic Wireless Headphones

Is It Safe to Sleep with Earbuds In
SleepPhones Acoustic Wireless Headphones

If you’re looking to get some all-rounder service from a single device, you’ll love these headphones from SleepPhones. They not only provide a soothing haven for your ears but also act as a comfy headband to sleep in.

The soft and stretchy material will make you fall asleep right away. And will remove all your tensions and anxiety by playing your favorite tracks. Several users have recommended these headphones for helping with insomnia, tinnitus, extreme anxiousness, and so on.

And the fact that it’s completely wireless makes the deal all the sweeter. The headphones come with Bluetooth technology that effectively works with compatible devices. That way, you will never have to worry about getting all tangled up in cords while sleeping.

2. HoomBand Wireless Headphones

Is It Safe to Sleep with Earbuds In

If you’re looking to get some premium quality headphones under 80 bucks, the HoomBand Wireless Headphones have got your back. Coming in at just $79.90, they are one of the top choices for sleeping headphones as of now.

And deservedly so, since the headphones come with multitudes of amazing features. The wireless factor stands out right off the bat as that one’s pretty much essential nowadays.

Again, it also works as a headband for sleeping and thus, it’s available in different sizes. You get to select the specific size that provides you the most comfort. Furthermore, it’s made of washable materials so you don’t have to worry about them getting dirty.

The headphones also come with over 100 hours of audio content for sleeping. And that too, completely free of cost. You can download them to listen offline as well. Just two hours of charging will provide you with 10 hours of listening time thanks to the BT 5.0 lithium battery.

3. Panasonic Clip-On Earphones

Is It Safe to Sleep with Earbuds In

You can go for the Panasonic Clip-On Earphones if you aren’t looking to get anything fancy. And, we get it. Sometimes, you just want something that works the way it’s supposed to. Adding all these extra and ‘advanced’ features just makes it overcrowded and overwhelming.

Well, unlike most other headphones, these from Panasonic are ultra-compact. However, despite the extremely slim housing, they offer quite the powerful beats. And that’s due to the 30 mm driver unit in the device.

If not anything else, sound quality and comfort – Panasonic makes sure to not compromise on these fronts at least. In addition to the stylish black design, they are quite ergonomic as well. They are of utmost security and if used properly with restraints, won’t hurt your eardrums at all.

How Can You Make Sure Whether Is It Safe To Sleep With Earbuds In?

If you have already cultivated a habit of sleeping with headphones, you need to come up with some security methods. Because chances are that you recklessly use them at the moment.

So, if you continue to tumble down that road, you may end up facing some serious repercussions. So, here are a few ways you can try out to ensure your safety while sleeping with earbuds in.

Keep the Noise Level Way Down

Sometimes, to drown out the outside noise, we tend to put the music on at the highest level. And that’s where we mess up the balance. Come on, they don’t give away those warning texts while raising your sound level for nothing, do they?

When you’re listening at the highest level, the shockwaves from the sound are hitting your eardrums just as hard. Surely, we don’t have to tell you why that’s a bad thing after all that discussion on necrosis and tinnitus.

Again, keeping your sound up also reduces your ability to focus on the outside noises. And that, in turn, compromises your physical safety. So, if you want to remain secure with earbuds on, don’t increase the sound beyond the recommended level.

Get Used to White Noise

Instead of heavy metal or pop-rock audio, you can try getting used to the white noise. They are incredibly helpful for both relaxation and meditation. A white sound is a form of sound where there are no significant ups and downs in the beat. As in, there are no sudden bursts.

With these noises in the background, your mind can truly relax and focus on itself. As they are soft, they don’t affect your inner balance either. No pressure is put on your eardrums so you stay safe from all that annoyances as well.

In fact, multiple scientific studies have confirmed how white noise brings down the heart rate. And that’s a sign of relaxation i.e., lack of agitation. So, try to put on some white noise before sleeping to sleep comfortably.

Don’t Blast the Music

It’s one thing to slowly increase the noise level when your earbuds are on. But it’s a completely different thing when you suddenly blast a loud sound in your ears.

Think about it. Your ears are already in a pretty neutral state when you’re not listening to anything in particular. Now, if you suddenly play an extremely high-pitched noise without preparation, what do you think would happen?

First of all, the eardrums would receive a huge shock due to all the suddenness of the pitch. In fact, if they are already injured from a previous engagement, it can also cause them to burst. It’s unheard of but it’s not impossible.

So, keep that in mind before pressing the play button. It’s already not recommended to listen to something at the highest level but if you do, exercise proper precautions.

Use Other Mediums

If earbuds seem to affect you too much, you can try getting used to other mediums. For instance – you can leave the TV on with some soothing music. Or, if you have access to great radio channels, listen to them instead.

That way, you won’t risk putting your ears through such deliberate close-up sounds. And that’s why using comparatively far-away mediums is a greater choice in the long run.

Especially if you live alone or at least, have a room all to yourself. Then you have absolutely no excuse for putting yourself through the hassle of earbuds.

Just put on some nice dim lights and leave the radio on before going to sleep. You can also try out one of those soft galaxy nights with Bluetooth connectivity to play your favorite songs. With the playlist on loop and comfy pajamas, you’ll fall asleep right away.

Use Earbuds with Protective Layer

While browsing through earbuds, you’ll find that some of them come with protective coverings. And not just for the boxes they are kept in, but for the ears themselves. Usually, people who cannot handle direct sounds, tend to use such earbuds.

Basically, these earbuds use a soft clothing layer made of velvet preferably to muffle the sounds before they go in. That way, your eardrums aren’t directly exposed to any of the noise.

You can blast on anything that you’d like and won’t have to worry about how they affect you anymore. But we would still recommend sticking to soft white noises for assured safety. Everyone has a different system going on and prevention is almost always better than cure.


So, is it safe to sleep with earbuds in or not? Turns out, while it’s certainly not highly recommended, there are ways to go past the restrictions.

You just have to fully abide by all the precautions and use premium quality earbuds before sleeping. That way, you too, can enjoy some relaxing music before drifting off to the neverland of sweet dreams.

John Ryan JR is the editor-in-chief of AudiGR. He has been an audiophile for over seven years and has been writing about headphones for over five years. Professional musicians and producers, as well as casual listeners and home theater enthusiasts, are among the people who have worked with John Ryan in the audio field.

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