Sleep sounds like white noise or rain have been used for decades to help people sleep faster and better.
To enjoy the relaxing benefits of these sounds, you have to use a white noise machine or place a speaker or your phone on your bedside.
This is inconvenient if you share your bed with your partner and they’d rather sleep in total silence.
The alternative is wearing headphone or earphones. But these are uncomfortable to sleep in especially when you want to lie on your side.
But there is another option that works: sleeping headphones.
These are specially designed headphones that you can comfortably wear to bed. They are usually designed as a head band or eye mask with flat speakers or in-ear earpieces fitted on the inside.
Most are wireless, though there are wired ones as well, which allows you to stream sleeping sounds, music or an audio book from your phone using Bluetooth.
In this buying guide, I’ll review the best sleeping headphone you can buy online. We looked at factors like comfort, ease of use and connectivity to pick the best ones from dozens of brands.
But first, some tips on buying a good pair of sleep headphones.
What to consider when buying sleeping headphones
a. Comfort and ease of use
The headphones should be comfortable to wear in bed. Look for headphones that use soft materials like velvet or leather.
They should also be the right fit. If it is a head band or eye mask, it should fit around your head without being too tight or feeling too lose.
If the headphones are in-ear, the earpieces should fit comfortably in your ears. For most people however, over-ear headphones are safer and more comfortable.
Most over-ear sleeping headphones come with thin flat speakers that feel comfortable even when you sleep on your side.
The headphones should also be easy to use. One feature to look for is audio controls – next, previous, volume and pause. You shouldn’t have to keep reaching for the phone to pause, lower the volume or go to the next track.
One of the first things to check is how the headphones connect to your phone. As I mentioned, most use wireless Bluetooth connectivity.
Bluetooth is convenient since you don’t have to worry about cables. You can put the phone further away (where it won’t distract you from sleep) while still enjoying your favourite sleeping sounds.
But if you prefer wired headphones, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Make sure the eye mask or headband that the speakers are embedded in can be washed. You don’t want to be stuck with something sweaty and smelly.
Luckily, this is not an issue with most sleeping headphones. You can easily remove the speakers and safely wash the fabric.
Best Sleep Headphones in the UK
These headphones are designed specifically for napping. But you can also use them to ward off insomnia at night.
The relaxation techniques deployed by the headphones to help you fall asleep are quite advanced.
There are EEG sensors embedded in the fabric and earpieces. These sensors read your brain waves. From the readings, an algorithm can then tell when you are relaxed and when you are feeling restless.
As the EEG sensors study your brain waves, the algorithm automatically selects the best music depending on your brain reaction. Over time, it learns what music calms you down quickly and plays it more often.
The earphones are wired. You can connect them to your smartphone or tablet and then fire up the free companion app. The app contains thousands of relaxing tracks and light music.
The app automatically lowers the volume as you get drowsy. When you fall asleep, the music fades away and the headphones play pink noise which blocks ambient sounds to help you sleep better.
If you plan to use this eye mask at night, you’ll probably want to take it off or switch off the app just before you completely fall asleep.
That’s because it has another feature designed specifically for naps. When it senses you are about to get into deep sleep – which is good at night but bad for short naps – it plays a gentle noise to wake you up.
What we like about it:
- Perfect solution for quick and refreshing naps.
- Also ideal for dealing with insomnia at night.
- No charging or batteries necessary.
If you prefer wireless sleep headphones, these ones by SleepPhones are a good choice. They are not just for sleeping; you can also wear the band during yoga, meditation or when travelling.
One of the things I liked about these sleep headphones is that they don’t have earpieces. Instead, they are embedded with flat speakers that feel very comfortable even when you sleep on your side.
The headphones don’t come with a smartphone app so you have to find your own. But there are plenty of apps that offer a wide selection of sleep sounds. You can also listen to music, your favourite podcast or an audio book by pairing it to your phone via Bluetooth.
You can also just use the headphones as they are without anything playing. They will block out noise (e.g. snoring) and other ambient sounds that keep you awake.
The battery lasts around 7 hours.
The band itself is made from a very soft fabric that is gentle on your skin and is highly breathable. When it gets dirty, just remove the speakers and wash the band.
The band comes in 3 colour options and 3 sizes.
What we like about it:
- Convenient Bluetooth connectivity.
- Comfortable flat speakers.
- 3 colour and 3 size options.
This is another good pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones for sleep. It’s a cheaper alternative to the fairly pricey SleepPhones pair above.
Like the SleepPhones headphones, these ones also use thin flat speakers that feel comfortable even when sleeping on your side.
Pairing the headphones with your phone or tablet takes just a few seconds. You can then play sleep sounds from whichever app you have or listen to music.
The play time is decent – around 8-10 hours. Recharging it via the included USB cable takes 2-2.5 hours.
The eye mask itself feels very comfortable. It secures around your head using Velcro which can be adjusted for a perfect fit.
It is cushioned on the inside to prevent any irritation or pressure on your skin.
The mask is washable. Just remember to remove the speakers before you put it in water.
What we like about it:
- Battery can last though the night.
- Comfortable eye mask with an adjustable fit.
- Perfect for sleeping, daytime naps and long haul flights.
This can be used as an eye mask at night or during naps or as a headband when travelling or working out.
Just lower or raise it to use it for either purpose.
The band is embedded with thin flat speakers – not earpieces – that feel very comfortable. They are not wireless. You’ll need to plug in the 3.5mm jack into your phone or tablet to listen to music or sleep sounds.
The cable is fairly long (1.5m) so you can leave your phone on the bedside instead of holding it in your hands.
The polar fleece fabric is very soft and feels comfortable. The only downside is that it comes in only one size and is not adjustable. But most customers say the fit is perfect for them. It feels comfortably snug.
You can wash the band but remember to pull out the speakers.
What we like about it:
- Long cable that’s easy to use.
- Comfortable and versatile band that can be used as an eye mask or headband.
- Comfortable thin flat speakers.
If you are looking for a pair of comfortable sleep headphones for your long flight, I recommend this pair by CozyPhones. They come complete with a travel pouch.
The headphones are wired so you don’t have to worry about recharging the battery. You can listen to music or relaxing sounds for as long as you want.
The flat-style speakers are integrated into a soft, light and comfortable headband. The fabric is breathable to keep your skin from getting hot and clammy.
The band is extra wide such that you can pull it over your eyes and use it as an eye mask.
Unfortunately, it comes in just one size. While it’s a perfect fit for most people, you may have to do a bit of DIY sewing if it feels a bit lose.
The speakers are removable which means you can safely wash the headband.
What we like about it:
- Comfortable flat speakers and soft fabric.
- Band is washable.
- Great for travelling, yoga, sleep and meditation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How to sleep on your side with headphones?
Look for headphones specifically designed for side sleepers. We do not recommend over-ear and on-ear headphones as they can cause discomfort.
We also do not recommend wired headphones because they easily get tangled while you are sleeping.
Headband sleep headphones are the best. They are not restrictive and you can comfortably sleep on your side with the headphones on.
Q: How to sleep with headphones without breaking them?
The trick is to buy the right headphones. Sleep headphones are specifically designed to feel comfortable when you are sleeping. Since they do not bulge over your ears, you can toss and turn all you want without breaking them.
It’s also a good idea to avoid wired headphones. You can easily pull and damage the wires as you turn in bed.
Q: How to clean sleep headphones?
If your sleep headphones are made of removable and washable fabric, simply wash the fabric in warm soapy water.
Use rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer on a small cloth to gently wipe down the in-ear headphones.