Is it Safe to Sleep with Noise Cancelling Headphones 2022 | Here’s What you Need to Know

by Michael Dwain

If you’ve ever thought, is it safe to sleep with noise cancelling headphones at night then this article will clear any doubts you may have about the topic.

Imagine this! You’re traveling in an airplane overseas and it’s a long journey ahead. It’s night-time and you’re getting ready to sleep but you suddenly remember you don’t have your earplugs with you. 

You can’t avoid earplugs as you are an extremely light sleeper so you ask the cabin attendant for a pair. They say they are out of earplugs but offer you brand-new noise-cancelling headphones instead. What would you do? 

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Simple, you accept it, thank them for the alternative, and put it on for a sound sleep. That’s right, you can sleep with noise-canceling headphones as they are extremely safe, block out the distractions and help you get a good night’s sleep with ease. 

All you need to do is find the right pair for you. Lucky for you, we’ve all you need right here in this article. Just read on till the end and say goodbye to your sleeping troubles

Is it Safe to Sleep with Noise Cancelling Headphones?

Some people believe that sleeping with headphones is bad for your health or that you can’t sleep with them. But these are just myths. As long as you wear the earbud that doesn’t hurt, you can sleep with them just fine. Not only will they not hurt your health but they will also serve a good purpose.

If you are a light sleeper, it is better to sleep with headphones to block out unnecessary noise. But remember to remove the earbud prior to sleeping. It is not safe to sleep with headphones.

Noise Cancelling Headphones vs Earplugs

First let’s clear out the basics. Earplugs are preferred by people all around the world to block out unwanted noise and sleep in peace. But if you’ve used one before, you would know they bring in the problem of discomfort. 

If you’ve the habit of sleeping in different positions throughout the night, with earplugs on, you can’t. As it can damage the sensitive parts of your ear the moment you shift and could cause unwanted problems. 

Noise canceling headphones on the other hand, don’t put unwanted pressure on your ears, can’t go down too far into your ear canal and can help you enjoy your favorite music while sleeping. 

EarplugsNoise-Canceling Headphones
Can be pushed further into ear canal and cause damage
Can block out noise only to a certain extent
Comfortable if found the right pair
Expensive but provides more than one function
No risk of getting pushed in ear
Can block out external noise and play your favorite music

Types of Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Sleeping

While noise-cancelling headphones are a great alternative for earplugs, choosing the right one for you is essential. There are primarily three types of noise-canceling headphones when it comes to overnight use. 

On-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones

If you have suffered from earplugs pushing in your ear wax or getting stuck deep in your ear when you fell asleep, on-ear headphones are a great option for you. 

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  • Can completely cover your ears
  • Effective against wide range of sounds due to a combination of active and passive noise cancellation 
  • Excellent option if you sleep on your back


  • Uncomfortable for side sleepers

Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Earbuds or in-ear headphones are the next best comfort option when it comes to sleeping with them on. They are lightweight and locked in your ears so don’t cover your entire space. 

However, it is not advisable to use them for long hours and can enhance discomfort if done so. 


  • Lightweight 
  • Less likely to disturb your sleep


  • Can cause discomfort if you roll over to the side frequently
  • Can increase the bacteria level in your ears if worn for longer hours
  • Needs more maintenance 

Noise Canceling Headbands

Headbands are tailor-made to be used while sleeping but lack noise-canceling varieties. Headbands are made of soft material and can be pulled easily over your head while sleeping. Some even come with an attached eye mask ensuring a good night’s sleep.


  • Soft and breathable material
  • Can be used for side sleeping
  • Easy to wear, easier to remove


  • Not many noise-cancellation options
  • Connected via Bluetooth so needs to be charged frequently

How to Select the Right Noise Cancelling Headphones for you?

When choosing the best type of headphones for you, it comes down to personal preference and which type of headphone you feel most comfortable wearing at night. 

Not all noise-canceling headphones are built for a good night’s sleep. In fact, since padding adds to the seal and noise reduction, most of them are too bulky to let you sleep comfortably. That’s why it’s best to consider a few factors before picking the pair built for you. 

Active Noise-Cancellation

Headphones are designed in two types of modes to help cut out the external noise. They are Active and Passive Noise-Cancellation. 

Active Noise-Canceling headphones are typically lighter and use technology to detect the external sound and generate a frequency opposite to it so it cancels out the sound before it reaches your ears. 

Passive Noise-Canceling headphones are usually padded and are made of sound-absorbing material like silicone or foam to reduce the amount of outside noise. Though they don’t need to be charged like active noise-canceling headphones, they tend to be bulkier and can be uncomfortable for overnight use. 

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Sure, active noise-canceling headphones need to be charged frequently, but they can reduce mid-to-low frequency sounds by  more than 20-40 decibels and can be a comfortable option for use while sleeping. 

Build Quality and Noise Control

The durability of the headphones is one of the most important factors to consider while purchasing. If the material feels cheap, the product is likely to get damaged overnight. Moreover, it can also cause damage to your ears which might be more harmful. 

It is advised to invest in a better, sturdy pair of headphones for a longer and comfortable use. Consider things like: 

  • Material: Dense plastic or Metal. Steer clear of cheap plastic manufacturing
  • Reviews: Go through a bunch of user reviews before you buy the headphones. Chances are you might receive mixed reviews if you go through a lot, but stick with the majority on this. 
  • Warranty: The longer the warranty, the stronger the brand feels about its product. While standard warranties last for about a year, try to go for brands that offer a two-year warranty or more. 

Noise Control or noise making is another feature to consider while buying noise-canceling headphones for sleep. Many earphones not only perform their primary function of blocking the external sound but also have a list of mild, ambient, music to help the wearer attain a sound sleep. 

These types of light music help reduce anxiety, increase relaxation and mask tinnitus or the ringing sound experienced in particularly one ear. 

Sleep Position

How you sleep matters the most when using a noise-canceling device. Ideally, wireless headphones are the go-to for sleep purposes as it wouldn’t require much adjustments and won’t come in the way you sleep. 

Ask yourself these questions before making any decision regarding the headphones

  • In which position do you sleep the most?
  • Is side sleeping your comfort position?
  • Do you frequently toss and turn?

The answer to these questions will help you select the headphones meant for you. Depending on the type of sleeper you are, you can zero in on:

  • On-ear: For back and upright sleepers
  • In-ear with neckbands: For sleepers who can’t maintain a position for long
  • Wireless In-ear buds: For side and upright sleepers
  • Headbands: For all kinds of sleepers

Battery Life

Active noise-canceling headphones require more charge than Passive ones. Many ANC headphones nowadays can last 40-50 hours on a single charge. This is ideal because you’ll be guaranteed at least a few days’ worth of noise cancellation, even if you forget to charge your device.

While a high-capacity battery is a plus, the time taken for charging must also be noted. Some headphones can yield as much as 60 hours of playback, but take ages to fully charge.


Like most electronic gadgets, the more the price of a noise-canceling headphones, the better the quality. Most top-of-the-line headphones usually have better audio drivers, richer sound quality, improved noise cancellation, a more premium, durable build, and a host of functions.

See also  Best Audio-Technica Headphones with Noise Cancelling 2022

Having said that, these functions can also be available at a modest price from other competitors. However, it’s best to spend only as much on the headphones as your purpose is. 

If it’s sleep, then you can skip the ones offering extra features and go for a simple and effective one. But if you’re okay spending more for advanced functions, who’s stopping you?


Is it worth buying noise-cancelling headphones?

When you are offered an elevated audio experience, reduced external distractions and a protected hearing, why would you say no? Noise-cancelling headphones offer all of the above and more, so yes they are definitely worth the expense. 

What are some cons of noise-cancelling headphones?

Some of the most common complaints surrounding noise-cancelling headphones involve jaw pain, headaches, dizziness, and ear pressure. The ear pressure, in particular, is likened to the same kind of ear pressure one feels on an ascending airplane. 

Are noise-cancelling headphones effective against snoring?

Absolutely. Noise-cancelling headphones are not only effective against snoring but also have in-built ambient sounds to help you sleep peacefully.

Instant high-frequent noises like a baby crying can still be heard through the headphones but low-to-mid frequency sounds like snores or the traffic buzz are effectively blocked.


Noise-cancelling headphones are worth the price and quite safe for overnight use but finding the right pair for you is a must for a durable and long-lasting use.

So next time you’re traveling by air, request for a noise-canceling headphone instead of earplugs.

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Greetings! My name is Michael and this is my website.

I've been specializing in audio equipment and accessories for a while and have a little something in store for every kind of hi-fi enthusiast.

Based in California, I keep attending special launch events across the globe. This has helped me understand the products better, and with a unique hands-on experience I'm able to provide you with easy to understand reviews about the best in audio tech from around the world.

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