Is It Safe to Sleep with Headphones on When Listening to Music?

Last updated on July 4th, 2024 at 09:36 pm

The pros & cons of sleeping with headphones on.

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In this digital era, we’re attached to our phones all day and wearing headphones for a good portion of it. Some people use headphones for blocking the noise that comes from the surrounding area, some for simple privacy.

Headphones can be really dangerous if you are outside. Joggers frequently don’t hear approaching vehicles and thus fail to react to them. Headphones can lead to some serious illness if you are wearing them while sleeping. It is true that music will help you to sleep quickly and has other health benefits, but the volume and the pressure of the headphones can cause damage to our ears.

Dangers of Headphones

​Ear Wax Accumulation

If you have the habit of wearing headphones or earbuds that go deeper into your ear, there is a high chance of developing impacted ear wax. Not only do ear buds push wax further into the ear, but they also block the circulation of air near the ear. With deeper and more impacted earwax, there there’s an increased chance of ear damage when trying to remove the wax.

Otitis Externa

Otitis Externa is the medical term for inflammation in the ear canal. It’s a common cause of ear itchiness and irritation. If the condition escalates, it can lead to infection.

Otitis Externa can give rise to sever pain in the outer ear and potentially damage the ear canal. People who are in the habit of wearing headphones constantly or people who swim a lot, develop this condition quickly. It’s so common for people who swim a lot, that’s it’s commonly known as swimmers ear.


When you are wearing any type of headphone that doesn’t fit well with your ear, it will put a lot of pressure on your ear canal and the skin surrounding it.

Once the skin starts to deteriorate, it can lead to necrosis, which is known as the death of the tissue cells. Necrosis is serious because dead tissue is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

​Issues of Safety

When we are wearing any headphone while going to sleep, it will cancel out the surrounding noise with music. So if your fire alarm in your house goes off, will you hear it? Or will the headphones you’re sleeping in mute the alarm – obviously, this could have devastating consequences.

Hearing problems

While high volume can cause hearing damage, what people fail to realize is that even lower volume levels can do so if the exposure time is long. Most doctors will tell you that anything above 105 dB for more than 15 minutes per week will cause permanent damage, but it also turns out that even lower volumes around 80-90 dB can do the same if you’re exposed for hours per day.[1] Given that most people who use headphones will use them for hours, it’s probably safer to keep volume levels down around 60 dB to avoid hearing damage.

Avoid listening to something that is far too loud because loud noises create excessive vibrations or volume, which have the capability of damaging eardrums and other surrounding places. If you continue this for a long time, there are high chances of hearing loss. Do a little research on headphonatics to get a clear idea.

Girl listening to music while sleeping on bed

Benefits of Sleeping with Headphones

​Can Shut Out Noise

After a busy day, you need a peaceful sleep. If your house is in a location where you hear lots of noises like traffic or people talking, headphones can save you from the unwanted noise and help you to get a peaceful sleep. By listening to soothing music, you can easily block out all the noise that is restricting you from sleeping.

​White Noise & Relaxation

White noise is a great remedy when it comes to sleeping comfortably. Most of the people listen to white noise when they want to sleep or relax. It helps in lowering your breathing and heart rate, both of which promote sleep.

Even softer types of music can function as white noise. It will help to drown out outside noises that could disturb when when trying to fall asleep.

Treatment for Insomnia and PTSD

If you listen to any music when you are sleeping or while trying to sleep, it will help in reducing the symptoms of insomnia or PTSD. It will improve sleep quality and help your mind to relax.

Stimulates Serotonin

When our brain releases serotonin, it makes us feel good. When a person listens to music, the same chemical is stimulated from the brain, and they feel more relaxed and happier. It creates a pleasant mood and falling asleep becomes easier. It also helps in forgetting stressful things that may have occurred during the day.


If you want to avoid all the bad effects of sleeping with headphones, always use your earbuds or headphones that will fit well. Keep the volume of the music below 60 decibels.

When your phone is charging, try to avoid sleeping with the headphones on because it can lead to electrocution, which can be fatal.

Also, make sure to give your ears a break some nights by sleeping without them. If you need white noise, have a fan or humidifier running in the background to compensate.

Sources & Additional Reading

1. NHS: 5 Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss

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