Is It Bad to Sleep With Headphones On? (What to Do Instead)

In this era of a fast-paced life, along with the everyday hustle and bustle, all we want is a good night’s sleep. However, we certainly do not live in some beautiful village of hobbits. Most of us wake up to the sound of noisy neighbors or loud cars rather than chirping birds.

Well..about that! We have Spotify and many other music apps that we have made sleeping playlists with. So, a little jazz or soft piano music in our headphones does the job of a lullaby for us. But is it wrong to sleep with headphones on?

While having headphones on when you sleep has its perks, we would love to enlighten you with matters of concern. So today, we will elaborate and look deep into some of the aspects of sleeping with headphones on.

1. What Happens If You Sleep With Earphones On?

Every human being is different from one another. But there is that one thing that brings everyone under the same light. That is – the love for having a sound sleep. 

Sleeping with earphones on is crucial if you are sharing your room with someone; plus, who doesn’t love to absorb every single rhythm of music that comes flowing inside through your ears? 

While there’s nothing terrible with someone using headphones to chill before bed, falling asleep with them on has a variety of healthcare dangers. Stay with us to know more about the health implications of sleeping with headphones. 

We’ll also go through some different applications to use tranquil noises before bedtime and many more.

2. Is It Wrong to Sleep With Earphones Playing Music?

The classic and usual answer to this question is yes, it is certainly not a good practice to sleep with earphones on while playing music. However, many factors are present to determine the extent of this situation’s wrong or good impact.

Sleeping with music inside your ears is not limited to your regular night’s sleep. Instead, people opt for this option more when traveling, during their daily commute, and so on.

For example, the type of music, levels of volume, and how you have put them on while trying to get some shut-eye – are all significant factors that will add to the outcome of sleeping with your headphones on.

3. What Are the Bad Sides of Sleeping With Headphones On?

Even though excess usage of headphones does not necessarily cause long-term diseases, it indeed does have potential health risks. Using them to an extreme extent and falling asleep by having them on can impose several dangers.

3.1 Suffering From the “Otitis Externa”

Otitis Externa is known to be the condition that leads to redness/swelling (inflammation) to the ear canal. Our external ear canal is the pipe or tube that connects the outer side of our ear with the eardrums. It is widespread amongst swimmers but can occur to people who wear earbuds all the time. 

When the earbuds constantly rub against the skin of our ears, it blocks air circulation and leads to the buildup of fluid. Thereby, it leads to otitis externa, causing irritation and inflammation.

3.2 Damage of Tissues Due to “Necrosis”

It is commonly seen that many people wear any size of earbuds and do not bother much about it. However, wearing earbuds that creates pressure on your internal ear canal can damage the tissues inside your ear.

This happens to disrupted blood flow caused by the death of ear tissues.

3.3 Build Up of Ear Wax

Keeping headphones on for more extended periods leads to the buildup of ear wax due to blockage of air circulation. In addition, the earbuds push the existing ear wax more deeply into the eardrum. 

If the buildup goes to an extreme extent, you will need to see a doctor and have them removed.

3.4 Not Being Aware of Safety Hazards or Emergencies

Having loud music on or, even worse, having earbuds with the noise-canceling feature can make you completely unaware of your surroundings. For example, you might fail to hear someone’s call for help, an alarm going off, a crying baby or burglar alarm, and so on. 

In such cases, you will end up with lifelong regrets of dangers you could have escaped or saved someone from.

3.5 Losing Listening Power

If you expose yourself to music excessively with the aid of headphones, even if you are listening to chill mixes, it can potentially cause you to lose your hearing power over time.

It is advised that you listen to music that is no more than 60 decibels to avoid such issues. Any sound more than a volume of 60dB will cause you to lose your listening power eventually.

Hyperacusis is a condition that people might face due to more than average use of headphones; it will make your ears sensitive to everyday sounds and noises around you.

3.6 Earphone Wire Strangling

This is a rare case scenario, but it can still happen. For example, if you use earbuds or headphones with long cords, the tangled wires might get wrapped around your neck and block your oxygen supply.

The wires can get tangled and wrapped up around any part of your body and this can break your sleep. 

3.7 Infection of Ear

Be it friends, family, or colleagues, we all love sharing our music. But unfortunately, exchanging earphones or earbuds can contribute to the transfer of ear wax between people, leading to infectious ear diseases.

3.8 Might Have Negative Effects on Brain

Headphones are electronic devices; thus, they generate electromagnetic waves. As the ears are in close connection and proximity to the brain, ear pain and infections might eventually cause the brain to have detrimental effects.

4. What Are the Good Sides of Sleeping with Headphones On?

While most people listen to music when sleeping only for recreational purposes, it is a necessity for some people. Despite the drawbacks, listening to music with headphones during sleeping has some advantages.

4.1 Helps People With Insomnia and PTSD

People who deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) or have trouble getting quality sleep which leads to insomnia, find it relaxing and helpful to listen to music on headphones as a good company when sleeping.

4.2 Serotonin Boost

Happy neurotransmitter chemicals like serotonin and dopamine are released when people tune in to their favorite music. Such instances make the course of sleeping a pleasing and relaxing experience.

4.3 Noise Blocker: Helps to Relax

In case you need a sound sleep while saving yourself from rushing card noises or noisy neighbors, headphones help block all those harsh sounds by providing your choice of music.

The right type of music has also been seen to slow down the heart rate and calm your breathing patterns, offering relaxation.

4.4 Creates White Noise

Besides blocking unnecessary noise, headphones playing music help create white noise for your ears. White noises refer to the sounds that calm you instead of irritating you.

It is advised to listen to such sounds for about 45 minutes to help you relax, which will lead to a good night’s sleep.

4.5 Increased Brain Activity

When we sleep with headphones on playing music, our brain remains active and catches the noises coming into our ears.

While this might lead to making our brain sharper and our memory system more active, the detrimental effects it might have still weigh more.

5. Are Wireless Bluetooth Headphones and Earbuds Any Better to Sleep With?

If compared with headphones with cords that impose the danger of strangulation, then, yes, wireless Bluetooth headsets are comparatively safer.

However, that still does not take away the negative impact of its volume if you keep your music on.

Additionally, there is a concern about radiation within your brain and the Bluetooth pods affecting your health in the long term.

Some people also worry about developing cancer eventually through Bluetooth earbuds.

Even though Bluetooth headphones cause some amount of radiation, it is still less harmful than many other electronic devices that we use regularly. Thereby, there is not much to worry about cancer-related problems with such headphones.

6. Are There Necessary Precautions That Can Be Taken When Listening to Music on Headphones?

Certainly! If you are someone who finds it very hard to go through prolonged periods of both sleeping time and regular days without listening to music on earphones, there are things you can do.

  • As mentioned above, always try your best to listen to music within no more than 60 decibels. Most phones send a warning notification when you increase the sounds to more than 60 dB. Thus, it is wisest to keep that warning in mind.
  • Try listening to the radio music or watching music videos on TV at times.
  • Always try to get good and ideal size earphones for yourself. It is advised that you buy comparatively bigger earphones than your regular size. In that way, the buds would not go too close into your eardrums.
  • Try not to ever share headphones with friends, family, or anyone since it can lead to ear infections through the transfer of ear wax.
  • Listen to the sounds and music that help keep your breathing and heartbeat rate stable. For example, songs with sixty to eighty beats per minute are ideal for most people to have a calm heart rate.

7. Can There Be Other Ways to Listen to Music for Sleeping Without Headphones?

The are many technological yet better ways that would most likely give you a similar musical and sleeping experience like headphones.

7.1 Headband Headphones

Some headphones have mainly been manufactured to help people sleep. They come in a comfortable size, are wireless, and are equipped with Bluetooth technology. 

The loose fit design of the headphones prevents you from getting the earbuds too tightly inside your ears. And, Bluetooth tech stops the scares of strangulation.

7.2 Bluetooth Speakers and Phone Speakers

As long as the music is there, it should not matter much where it is coming from. Thus, leave the ears free sometimes and opt to listen to music from Bluetooth speakers or even your phone’s built-in speakers.

That way, you might also be able to share the music around in case you and your roomies have the same taste in music.

7.3 Listening to Music on Radio or Stereo

You can always switch to traditional ways of listening to music by simply turning on your stereo or tuning into your favorite radio station.

However, remember that you always need to keep the volume to a standard level to avoid any detrimental effects of loud sounds.

7.4 Use of White Noise Machines

Purchasing a white noise machine can also save you the trouble of headphones music.

These machines are designed to block noises coming from outside. They randomly play soothing sounds to help you relax and sleep.

8. Are There Natural Non-Tech Alternatives of Having Headphones to Aid Sleep?

Yes, there are some prevalent practices that many people engage in to avoid playing music on headphones.

8.1 Naturally Made Supplements

To get sound sleep, you can rely on the hormone ‘Melatonin’ that makes your brain aware of the need to sleep. Lavender oil and magnesium are good agents to help you sleep as well.

8.2 Healthy Lifestyle

If you find yourself being addicted to the habit of sleeping with music playing, it is better if you practice self-control and work on the routine. For example, try reading books or doing other chores to get the urge to sleep.

8.3 Meditation

Meditation and yoga are excellent approaches to maintaining a healthy mind and body. The chances are that, when you feel relaxed enough, you will automatically fall asleep.

8.4 Regular Exercises

If you maintain a healthy diet and work out a bit every day, even if they are simple stretching exercises, it will be enough for your brain to give you the drive to put you to deep sleep.

9. Is It Okay for Kids and Teens to Listen to Music on Headphones While Sleeping?

As mentioned above, sleeping with headphones on playing music has significant adverse effects. Regardless of age, these effects apply to everyone and might be worse for kids.

It is advised that you have your kids listen to music on Bluetooth speakers instead of headphones when they sleep, or try to use headphones tailor-made for kids at the least.