In one of my articles, I revealed how I improved my quality of sleep by wearing earmuffs to bed. However, I know that some people find it nearly impossible to fall asleep without some kind of background noise. Whether it’s white noise, podcasts, or music, having something on as you’re falling asleep can help you doze off. So today, I wanted to tell you about noise-canceling headphones and earbuds that are comfortable enough to wear in bed.
After all, the goal is to fall asleep to the sounds you choose — not the miscellaneous noise of passing cars, bed squeaks, and loud neighbors. Before I get into my usual product reviews and buying guides, I wanted to talk about why I think everyone can benefit from getting noise-canceling headphones or earbuds.
Why You Need Noise-Canceling Headphones or Earbuds for Sleeping
My nightly rituals change on a daily basis. One night I’ll use earmuffs to completely block all outside noises. The next, I’ll need some kind of distraction to focus on as I fall asleep.
Strangely, I think the difference is in the amount of internal noise I’m trying to shut off on the night in question. When I’m too tired to think, silence will do. However, when I’m too anxious to fall asleep right away, I’ll put on an hour-long podcast to relax. Maybe you’re the same — or maybe your nightly rituals are just the opposite of mine.
If you occasionally, or regularly, like to fall asleep to music or noise of some sort, there’s one small problem you’ll need to deal with. Namely, if you’re sharing a bedroom, you’ll want to invest in headphones that are comfortable enough to sleep with. Not only will headphones keep you from bothering your roommates but they’ll also help you hear the audio better.
Naturally, I’ll go more in-depth about the noise-canceling properties of the products I’ve found later. For now, you just need to know why I’ve chosen to talk about products with that particular feature when there are so many other, regular headphones and earbuds on the market.
Well, the answer is really simple. If you’re as sensitive to noise as I am, you’ll want to find a way to control your environment. That’ll be especially important before bedtime, when you really don’t want to get stressed out about outside noise.
Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Sometimes, you’ll have to deal with loud neighbors or traffic. Usually, simply closing the windows would be enough to eliminate those problems. But why should you have to sacrifice the ability to breathe fresh air for some peace and quiet?
Can They Block Out the Sound Of Snoring?
More importantly, noise-canceling headphones and earbuds can block out the sound of snoring. In fact, that’s one of the biggest reasons why you might want to get these kinds of products. If one of your roommates or housemates has this particular problem, it may be worth looking into different solutions.
Fortunately, I do have some experience with this subject, so I can walk you through it. Basically, there are two ways to deal with the problem:
- You can ask the person who’s suffering from the problem to resolve their snoring themselves. They can make some lifestyle changes to alleviate the problem or they can visit a doctor. Consequently, the doctor might prescribe an anti-snoring device or even suggest a procedure that may stop the snoring altogether.
- On the other hand, you can also use the tools at your disposal to mask or block the sound before it can reach your ears. In the article above, I explained how you can use earmuffs, headphones, white noise machines, and other noise-canceling devices.
If you happen to share a bed with a person who snores, even the most effective headphones may not block the noise entirely. After all, snoring is a kind of sound that vibrates out from the patient’s throat. Those vibrations can easily spread to the bed, causing it to shake. So you may still feel them, even if you can’t hear them thanks to your headphones.
Ultimately, I recommend seeking treatment for snoring and using products like the ones I’ll be talking about today in the interim. As I have mentioned, noise-canceling headphones are also great for many reasons other than for blocking sounds of snoring.
Aside from improving your sleep quality by choosing the last sounds you hear each night, the products on my list are also great for traveling. My main objective was to find comfortable products — which also have noise-canceling abilities. That means that you should be able to settle into a long bus ride or flight and listen to your tunes without getting a crick in your neck because of overly bulky headphones.
Furthermore, the headphones on my list are also ideal for runners, since the 3 products I’ve found are shaped like an athlete’s headband. They’ll remain firmly on your head no matter how brisk your run gets.
As for the earbuds on my list, I should begin by saying that they’re no less comfortable than the headphones. However, if I had to recommend their use for something other than sleep, I’d say that they’re great for getting some work done. If you have to study or work in a loud, crowded room, earbuds with active isolation (which is a concept I’ll explain a bit later on) would be the perfect tools for the job.
What to Look For When Shopping for Sleep Headphones and Earbuds
This time around, I have only 3 features I wanted you to pay attention to as I went through my list of recommendations. The first was the noise-canceling properties of the products I’ve picked, which brings us back to the subject of passive and active isolation.
Next, I’ll talk about the style of the products I’ve chosen and how comfortable they are. After all, you’ll have to be able to sleep with them on. Finally, I’ll briefly mention the sound quality. That is obviously important, even if you’ll only use these products when you’re tired, so you may not even care.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the first category of features.
When you’re talking about noise-canceling audio equipment like headphones and earbuds, you first want to understand the difference between active and passive isolation.
Most of the products on my list use passive isolation, which means that they physically block the sound from reaching your ears. Usually, they do that either by surrounding your ears with padding or by plugging them, as earbuds do.
Alternately, active isolation is a bit more sophisticated. Headphones and earbuds with that kind of technology basically have an active microphone listening to the surrounding sounds. The speakers inside the headphones or earbuds then play the opposite of the recorded frequencies. Basically, it’s a special kind of white noise that actively works to cancel out the noise you’re currently surrounded with.
Yet, as fancy as they sound, you probably don’t need those kinds of products. After all, passive isolation works just as well. If you want to know whether a pair of headphones or earbuds are noise-canceling (or soundproof, if you will), just listen for the leak.
If someone is wearing a pair of headphones and you can hear what they’re listening to, they can probably hear their surroundings, too. On the other hand, if you can’t hear audible leaks, those headphones are likely employing effective passive isolation.
Comfort and Style
When I was looking for products to review, my primary goal was to make sure that they were comfortable enough to wear throughout the night. Apparently, most people find it easier to sleep with earbuds in, rather than with headphones. After all, the small, in-ear devices are much smaller than the over-the-head headphones we’re all used to. However, when I went looking for headphones for sleep, I found that most products had found a way around that problem.
The 3 pairs of “headphones” I have on my list are all shaped like headbands. The flat on-ear design of the headphones is easy to slide into the pockets inside the headband. Moreover, they’re always removable, which allows you to wash the fabric headband as often as you need to.
On the other end of my list, I’ve found 3 pairs of earbuds which ought to fit comfortably inside the ear. Initially, I was worried that earbuds would actually be the less comfortable option. As someone who likes to sleep on their front and on the side, I imagined that earbuds would just go deeper and deeper into my ear. However, I can confidently say that that’s not the case with the ones I’ve selected for you today.
There’s another point I’d like to mention as far as the comfort of the products on my list is concerned. I’ve found both headphones and earbuds with cords and with wireless connectivity. Personally, I believe that both kinds of connectivity have their merits.
On the one hand, corded headphones don’t need to be charged. On the other, they do present a problem for people who tend to turn in their sleep. So consider what kind of sleeper you are before deciding which kind of headphones or earbuds you are.
Unfortunately, most of the products that are marketed as stereo sound headphones, which means that they can play separate left and right sounds. Still, not many products specify a particular sound quality. I’ll make sure to disclose whatever information I find in my reviews. Speaking of which — let’s finally see our contenders!
Top 5 Noise-Canceling Headphones and Earbuds for Sleeping
As I have mentioned, my search has yielded 5 products in total — 3 pairs of headphones and 2 pairs of earbuds. First, I’ll take a look at the headband-style headphones, and then check out the 2 earbuds options. Now that that’s sorted, there’s nothing left to do but jump into the reviews!
1. CozyPhones Sleep Headphones with Cool Mesh Lining and Ultra Thin Earphones
CozyPhones is the brand to go to if you’re looking for headphones for travel and sleep. These Contour series headphones are one of their newest products, but they also have other lines of products which I’ll mention later. Their original adult fleece headphones would only fit heads that were up to 22 inches in circumference. Conversely, the Contour headphones are a bit roomier, with a circumference of 22 to 24 inches.
Naturally, the name of the series is inspired by the way the product follows the lines of the head. Unlike regular headphones, the three products I’ve selected here are all shaped like headbands. So they’ll cover your ears by going around your head and forehead. The actual speakers go inside little pockets in the headband so they’re essentially on-ear headphones.
Usually, I wouldn’t call any on-ear headphones “noise-canceling” — they tend to be the worst offenders when it comes to audio leaks. However, in this case, the fabric around the headphones should be enough to muffle any noise. Speaking of the fabric, the product has a fleece exterior, available in several colors. The inside of the headband is lined with mesh, which should allow your head some air while preventing the headband from slipping around.
The headphones themselves are removable and corded, coming with a 52-inch cable. In addition to this product series, CozyPhones also have Lycra headphones which are ideal for exercise. Lastly, they also make products for kids (18–20-inch circumference) with all sorts of cute designs. Honestly, seeing those Ninja Turtle headphones kind of makes me want to have a 20-inch head circumference.
- 1/8-inch thick
- Removable on-ear speakers inside a headband
- Black or grey fleece exterior
- Breathable mesh interior
- 52-inch cord with 3.5 mm jack
2. Tooks SPORTEC BAND FLEECE Headphone Headband
The Tooks SPORTEC BAND is another one of the headband style headphones we’ll be looking at. Once again, we have a headband that’s made of fleece. To my knowledge, this product doesn’t have a different material on the inside, so it may get pretty warm.
Unlike CozyPhones, Tooks haven’t listed the circumference of the headband in the product description. However, according to most users, it’s probably a bit smaller than the average man’s head. Still, you can either adjust the band with minimal sewing or make a completely new band to put these speakers into.
Speaking of the audio equipment in the band, it is removable, just like with the previous product I’ve reviewed. However, these headphones do appear to be about twice as thick as the previous ones.
Still, if you sleep on a soft pillow, you shouldn’t be able to feel them. Like the previous speakers, these ones are corded, coming with a 56-inch cable. Moreover, you’ll also be able to replace your speakers as Tooks sell both wireless and corded replacement headphones.
The headband I’ve linked to is a black fleece one, but the company also makes them in pink and white. Also, like the previous company I mentioned, Tooks has other product lines as well. Specifically, they also make headbands from a “dryfit” material, which seems to be a cooling alternative to fleece. Furthermore, they also make different sorts of hats with the same speaker pockets in them, all of which come with corded or wireless speakers.
- 1/4-inch thick removable on-ear speakers in a headband
- Black, white, and pink microfleece
- 56-inch cord with 3.5 mm standard jack
- Replacement headphones available for purchase
3. AcousticSheep SleepPhones Wireless Bluetooth Headphones for Sleep and Travel
The AcousticSheep SleepPhones have the simplest exterior design out of all of the headband-style headphones I’ve seen. Instead of designing the headband to follow the shape of the head, the manufacturer relies on the spandex content in the fabric to get a snug fit. As far as I can tell, the speakers in the band aren’t removable. However, unlike the previous products I’ve reviewed, this one is wireless.
One of the best things about this product is that it’s exceedingly comfortable to wear, thanks to the different sizes that are available. The small size fits 20–20 3/8-inch heads, while the medium fits up to 23 3/8-inch heads. If you have a particularly large head or just a lot of hair, you’ll want to get the large headband, which fits heads that are up to 25 inches in circumference.
The headband I’ve linked to is the regular fleece fabric we’re used to seeing. However, the company also makes the headbands in a lighter fabric. The wireless Bluetooth headphones last for about 10 hours on a single charge. So you could actually use them throughout the night or on a really long trip.
It should be noted that the wireless versions of the product are certainly more expensive than the corded one. Still, if you don’t want to wake up with a cable around your neck, you may find it a good investment. On the other hand, the AcousticSheep corded fleece headphones appear to be the most popular product in their lineup. So it’s safe to say that some people are willing to put up with cables to avoid having to charge their headphones.
- Thin on-ear speakers in a headband
- Fleece or Breeze fabric available in different colors
- Wireless and corded versions
- Small, medium, and large headband sizes
4. MAXROCK Soft Silicon Sleeping Earbuds with Mic
Now, let’s see what kind of earbuds would be comfortable for sleep, starting with these MAXROCK ones. As it turns out, these particular earbuds are a fan favorite going purely by the number of people who have purchased them. Still, when you look at them, they seem pretty ordinary, with their 47-inch cord and the standard 3.5 mm jack.
They also have a built-in microphone and a one-button control for answering, rejecting, and ending calls as well as music control. Basically, these are ideal headphones whether you’re working, traveling, or sleeping. But as impressive and helpful as these features are, the real magic is in the earbuds themselves.
According to the company, the in-ear buds have an “ultra-soft” ergonomic fit, so they’re able to conform to the shape of your ear. Actually, the buds have two layers of silicon allowing them to completely fill your ear canal and reduce the amount of external noise. It’s the basic principle of passive isolation.
Furthermore, because the silicon is so malleable and soft, it’ll also shift while you sleep. They’ll still be comfortable even if you lie on your side, which is especially important to me. However, they are corded, so if you’re someone who turns in their sleep a lot, you may want to skip them.
Lastly, I also wanted to mention that these headphones come in many different colors, from the neutral black, gray, and white, to crazier neon colors. And, if you’re more comfortable with earbuds, but you still want to wear a sleep mask, you can easily combine this with one of the earmuff sleep masks I’ve linked to in my previous article.
- Corded earbuds
- Multifunctional button
- Built-in microphone
- Eight great colors
- Ergonomic fit
5. Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones
The Bose QuietComfort earbuds are the first active isolation model we’re coming across. Full disclosure, the company doesn’t specify that that’s the technology they’re using. Still, their acoustic noise-canceling technology seems to have a lot in common with active isolation. But I’ll explain that later — first, let’s talk about this product’s features.
If this product seems a bit pricey for corded earbuds, there’s a good reason for it. According to the manufacturer, the sound quality is supposed to be amazing, thanks to their proprietary TriPort technology and Active EQ. The headphones also have a multifunctional control button which does different things on different phones. In fact, there are two versions of the Bose QuietComfort earbuds — one that works with Apple devices, and another that works with Android devices.
As for the buds themselves, they’ll fit perfectly into your ear and stay there thanks to the StayHear+ tips. Basically, the silicone buds themselves are regular in-ear ones, and the product actually comes with three tip sizes. However, the buds also have a curved part that follows the shell of the ear. That should make them pretty sturdy, so they won’t shift even if you go running with them.
Ultimately, these headphones make any external noises disappear, which makes them ideal for sleeping. However, they’re also great for everyday use, in particular, because they have an Aware mode, which switches the external noise back on. That’s why I suspect that the headphones are using active isolation technology to tune out the surroundings.
Because the Aware mode uses a separate device connected to the earbuds, this product also comes with a USB charging cable, as well as a small carrying case.
- Corded earbuds
- Multifunctional button
- Built-in microphone
- Aware mode — active isolation
- Versions for Apple and Android devices
Suggestions on What You Should Play to Fall Asleep
Before I go into the list of criteria I used when I searched for the products in my recommendations, I wanted to make a few suggestions as to what you could listen to as you fall asleep.
As I have mentioned, you can always listen to white noise. The sound of static actually contains all frequencies that are audible to humans. Therefore, it can act as a shield from all of those frequencies — even the sound of snoring.
In fact, research has shown that listening to white noise, or rather pink noise, can enable us to have a more restful sleep. Personally, I can vouch for those claims. In my opinion, pink and brown noises are vastly superior to white noise when it comes to falling asleep.
On the other hand, I’ve found that white noise is more helpful for keeping me awake and focused than for sleeping. But that, like many things, is a matter of preference. In any case, you can try the different colored noise by plugging your headphones into your phone or even using an electric white noise machine.
Aside from that, you can also fall asleep to nature sounds. Beach waves and rain are particularly popular choices. Furthermore, you can also play music or podcasts as you doze off. Soothing options shouldn’t be hard to find. I know for a fact that Spotify and similar services have whole categories of bedtime music and podcasts.
Ultimately, if you’re someone who prefers to fall asleep to something other than dead silence, using one of the products I’ve mentioned today will benefit you greatly. Aside from blocking any external noises, they’ll also let you listen to your tunes without disturbing your housemates. As we have established, you can basically play anything relaxing, whether that’s an album, a podcast, or pink noise.
If you’re looking for the best noise-canceling products out of the ones I’ve listed, stick to the earbuds. After all, they do physically block your ears — and some models also have active isolation. On the other hand, headphones will only be marginally less effective — but they’re also safer than earbuds. What’s more, you can always boost their noise-canceling properties in other ways.
That being said, I hope one of the products I’ve mentioned today will suit whichever purposes you need them for. As you can see, there is no end of options on the market. And even if you don’t decide to go for one of the headphones or earbuds I’ve mentioned — at least you now know what you’re looking for.
- Best Noise-Canceling Earmuffs For Sleeping
- Can You Sleep With Headphones On?
- Best Earplugs For Sleeping With A Snorer
- Slightest Noise Wakes You Up? Light Sleeper Tips