Unless you are a motionless back-sleeper, most earbuds and headphones are far too bulky to wear comfortably overnight. Even the smallest pair of true wireless earbuds can fall out, become lost, or cause other problems.
Sleep headphones are supposed to be the solution for people who want to block out sounds, fall asleep to music, or mask issues such as tinnitus—but when we set out to find the best sleep headphones, our dreams were dashed. Every pair we tested let us down in some way.
We still have recommendations to address specific needs, but you should be prepared to accept a number of compromises.
If you like to listen to music, watch video, or use a meditation app to help you drift off to sleep, the AcousticSheep SleepPhones Wireless set delivers the most reliable experience available. They’re the only headband-style sleep headphones we’ve found that offer headbands in different sizes and fabrics, so there’s a better chance they’ll fit you comfortably.
The flat, felt-covered speakers aren’t painful to lie on, and they produce better bass than the cheap alternatives do. You can stream audio wirelessly from any Bluetooth source (be it a smartphone, tablet, or TV), and the 24 hours of battery life means you’ll get a few nights of rest before needing to charge again. The Bluetooth module and speaker drivers are easier to remove than the pieces in competing models, which makes washing the headband less arduous.
However, the headband-style design could interfere with hair bonnets, dental headgear, or nighttime skin treatments, and folks hoping to block external noise—such as the loud snoring of a partner—may find that the cloth isn’t isolating enough. Plus, the $100 price tag may seem steep for headphones that you use only in bed.
If you’re trying to rest next to a loudly snoring bedmate, near clamorously celebrating neighbors, or close to a construction site, the Anker Soundcore Sleep A10 earbuds physically isolate your ears from noise, and they can further mask disturbances by playing white noise and other sounds.
These diminutive earbuds are far thinner than most true wireless earbuds and stay in place securely, so you can roll over and not worry about losing one. However, they’re still earbuds, so this set isn’t for people with sensitive ears or those who dislike the feel of something in their ears.
The A10 set allows you to stream your own audio via Bluetooth, or you can preload your choice of soothing sounds from the Soundcore app. However, streaming your own playlist severely reduces the earbuds’ battery life, cutting it down from around 10 hours to as low as six hours. But there is an auto-sleep mode, which senses when you drift off and transitions to playing preloaded sounds.
The A10 pair has a built-in alarm, too, but it sounds like an old-school alarm clock and has no snooze button.