It’s a well-known fact that getting the right amount of quality sleep is essential to your health and well being. But what if you have to work the overnight shift, or have to deal with disruptive noise that prevents you from getting that restful night’s sleep?
Some people will go to extreme lengths to soundproof their home or individual rooms in order to reduce the amount of noise.
But let’s say you are renting an apartment, or you cannot afford to remodel in order to soundproof your bedroom, what can you do then?
There are white noise generators that create gentle background sleep sounds, or you can try wearing a pair of sleep headphones. This article will help you find the best noise-canceling headphones for sleeping that are both effective and comfortable.
5 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Sleep
Below, we’ll review some of the best headphones and earbuds that are comfortable enough to wear while sleeping.
Keep in mind everyone will have a different idea of comfort, and only you can know which recommended headphones will work best for you.
Types of Sleep Headphones and Comfort
- Bluetooth Earbuds – Tiny and wireless, you might think earbuds should be the most comfortable to fall asleep in. Some people, side sleepers especially, won’t like the pressure pillows can put on earbuds in the ear canal.
- Around the Ear Headphones – Larger than earbuds, yet smaller than regular headphones, around the ear models are more secure on the ear, using an ear loop rather than a headband. They also don’t have a painful earbud inside the ear, so side sleepers should find these easier to fall asleep with.
- Over the Ear Headphones – The best style for eliminating background noise, but will be too bulky for many people. Quality ear padding helps a ton, as does the right kind of pillow that won’t apply too much pressure on the headphones. Back sleepers and those with heavy snoring spouses should love this style.
- Bone Conduction Headphones – Newer technology that doesn’t use either an in-ear or on-ear speaker design. Instead, these headphones use the bones in your ears to directly transmit the music into your ears. They are very slim and could be a great discovery for sleepers struggling with traditional earbuds and headphones.
- Sleep Headphones – Special headphones designed with comfort at the forefront. SleepPhones use a soft microfiber headband, while BedPhones utilizes a super slim around the ear earphone. Read more about these top sleep headphones below.
1. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 – Smallest Sleep Earbuds
Our Review: For noise-canceling earbuds to be comfortable, they need to have comfortable tips and not impart undue pressure on the ear when your head is against the pillow. A side sleeper should be able to wear the Liberty Air 2 with no problems.
With a secure tip and small speaker buds, the Liberty Air 2 stay comfortably within the confines of your ear. The microphone tips are angled down and forward such that they blend in with the rest of the ear, making you less aware of their presence in bed to help you sleep.
The Liberty Air 2 has 4 microphones pitching in on the cVc 8.0 noise reduction system. While the sound quality is not going to be equal to that of Bose, Beats, or AirPods, the price makes these earbuds an excellent choice to help you fall asleep.
- Extremely small earbuds that disappear into your ears.
- Excellent battery life (8+ hours).
- Better sound quality than Soundcore Life P2.
- Water-resistant – not waterproof.
- Some people experience intermittent connection issues.
2. Apple AirPods Pro – Premium Earbuds
Our Review: For those who prefer to fall asleep to the sound from premium in-ear headphones, there may be no better choice right now than the Apple AirPods Pro. Paying a premium price though, you can get great use in all aspects of your life.
With 3 sizes of included silicone tips, the AirPods Pro will fit almost any ear. The AirPods do stick out from the ear further than the Liberty Air 2, but then again the AirPods are far more capable devices.
The biggest advancement Apple has made on these AirPods is the modes of noise cancellation. Active mode works to block external noise, Off, and Transparency Modes. Transparency mode is really cool, allowing you to be listening to music and hear outside sounds when you want to be aware of the surroundings.
- Excellent sound quality and active noise cancellation, as good as (or better than) Bose and Beats.
- Soft but snug silicone ear tips (multiple sizes) stay tight and secure
- Wireless charging case provides 24 hours of listening time.
- Only 4.5 hours of battery life with one charge.
- High price to pay for something worn while sleeping.
3. AfterShokz Air Bone Conduction Headphones
Our Review: If the thought of anything in or on your ears while laying in bed makes you cringe, then bone conduction headphones for sleeping might be the perfect wireless headphones to be falling asleep with.
Bone conduction uses direct contact with your ear bones to transmit sound into your ear. There are no painful earbuds and no bulky earphones, just a small speaker above each ear connected with a memory wire band. AfterShokz has several models with different shapes you can compare.
These style headphones are more about being able to listen to music without totally blocking out everything around you. If active noise cancellation is paramount to you, the Trekz AfterShokz may not be the best headphones for you.
The AfterShokz sound quality is better than you might expect for off ear headphones. They do lack some bass range and will buzz you if the volume gets too high. You should consider this type of sleeping headphones if the other styles have failed you.
- Thin speakers that won’t apply pressure or pain onto your ears.
- Nothing covering or plugging into your ears.
- Great battery life, 6-8 hours depending on the model.
- Louder volumes tend to vibrate or “buzz” on the ear.
- The connecting band can be obtrusive on the head while trying to sleep.
- Pause button on the side can inadvertently get pressed.
4. Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Hybrid
Our Review: Like the Soundcore earbuds, the Life Q20 noise-canceling headphones are budget-friendly headphones that have really solid sound performance that is up to the task of getting you a good night’s sleep.
The Soundcore Life Q20 has generously sized over the ear memory foam ear cups that cover your ears like a velvety glove. The foam conforms to your head and works well for sleeping on your back or on your side.
The noise cancellation performance is adequate but not as good as Bose or Sony headphones. For the price you pay, that is a worthy trade-off for most people. You will need to be playing music or white noise to enjoy the ANC functions. The battery life is tremendous, with people seeing over 40 hours of playback on a full charge.
- Memory foam ear cups are comfortable enough to sleep with.
- Does a decent job at ambient noise cancellation, but only when you listen to music.
- Exceptional 40hr battery life even with active noise cancellation on.
- Earcups are comfy, but not breathable and tend to get hot.
- Lower build and sound quality than a Bose or Beats.
5. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Our Review: The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is the “everyday carry” kind of headphones for power travelers, professionals in the office, and anyone who needs headphones to block out background noise. They also are great headphones for sleeping at home, on the plane, or on the train.
Being over the ear headphones, the QuietComfort 35 II are best for back sleepers or sleeping on the plane. Although one lady found a way to position one earphone on her ear and the other on her forehead to sleep on her side. The earcups are velvety soft memory foam that can melt over your ears.
Bose is well known for the best noise-canceling headphones and earbuds, and the QC 35 II is no exception. Most people find the ACN to be more than adequate, and much better than cheaper headphones. The ACN is good enough to just turn on and not even play music if that’s your thing.
- Lightweight yet sturdy with top quality materials.
- Solid active noise cancellation even without music playing.
- Great sound quality with crisp bass.
- Some have experienced Bluetooth issues in years past.
- If you really, really want more bass you best look at some Beats.
BedPhones are specially designed, over the ear sleeping headphones, that are comfortable enough to wear in bed. If you’ve ever tried to wear earbuds to bed, you know that many bulky in-ear headphones are not comfortable at all.
The BedPhones on the other hand, have a small foam-padded speaker that is thin enough to allow you to have them on your ears between the pillow. This is a must for side sleepers.
In addition to the soft foam pads, the earphones have a small, rubber-coated memory wire ear loop that makes them easily adjustable to your specific head shape. The wires can then be routed behind your head and down your back where they are out of the way during sleep.
I really like the BedPhones for travel, because I never know when I’ll be in a noisy hotel, or someplace that has no background white noise to help me fall asleep.
BedPhones headphones come with a soft-sided travel case and extra pairs of foam pads which is great for frequent traveling. For more info, check out our comparison of BedPhones vs SleepPhones.
7. Acousticsheep SleepPhones Wireless
The AcousticSheep SleepPhones are noise-canceling headphones for sleeping made of a soft headband, with a pair of tiny speakers embedded in the fabric.
The speakers are thin and flat to be as least intrusive as possible, and with no cord, there is nothing to get tangled on anything. I recommend you run the cord down the back of your nightshirt so that it doesn’t wrap around your head if you happen to be one who tosses and turns.
Music has been shown to improve sleep quality, so you can plug the headphones into your mp3 player or radio to send you off to dreamland. Or, you can plug into a white noise device to lull your mind into submission.
The headband itself is made of a silky soft fleece material that is comfortable to wear all night. Some people say that it slips down on them, or turns causing the speakers to move, but they just might not have the correct size for their head. Start with a Medium size SleepPhone and go from there.
8. Bluetooth Sleep Mask
The Musicozy Bluetooth Sleep Mask is something of a hybrid between the SleepPhones and a blackout facemask for light-sensitive sleepers.
The Musicozy have thin Bluetooth headphone speakers embedded in the headband, and a silk-lined memory foam facemask. The combination is quite the combo in comfort and function, as you get the best of both worlds.
The sound quality is really not the focus of a sleep mask, but they are adequate for pumping in some quiet music of white noise. This sleep mask is a great gift idea for light sleepers who need both darkness and a lack of disruptive background noise to be able to sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Noise Canceling Headphones Block Snoring?
Active noise-canceling technology has gotten better at blocking most noise over the years, even some snoring. Heavy snoring, however, has an element of bass to it that is difficult to filter out, even for the most expensive ANC headphones and earbuds.
Is it Bad to Sleep with Noise Canceling Headphones?
Sleeping with the noise canceling function on will not harm your hearing. If you listen to music at a high volume, the noise-canceling technology is not going to prevent your hearing from eventually being damaged. Use the lowest volume level you can while still blocking out the ambient noise.
Are there Alternatives to Sleep Headphones?
Earplugs – Do you think headphones or a headband will be too uncomfortable to sleep with? Noise-canceling earplugs may be the answer. Be aware that earplugs are not the most comfortable to sleep on either, it’s mostly a matter of how much sound reduction you need and personal preference.
Hearos makes a couple of different foam products that may suit your sleeping needs. The Xtreme Protection Series should be your first stop. They are made from super-soft foam, yet still, achieve a noise-reduction ratio (NRR) of 33 dB. A 42 pair pack will only set you back 14 or 15 bucks.
If the Xtreme earplugs are quite doing it for you, then try the, which also have a high NRR of 32 dB, but feature even softer foam. You won’t have much trouble sleeping on your side with them in place.
White Noise Machines – Let’s say you tried both headphones and earplugs for sleeping, but just cannot get comfortable enough to get a full night’s sleep. You don’t have to give up. There is noise-canceling technology called white noise machines for sleeping.
Basically, these devices produce a sound called white noise that helps mask out background noise like streets, voices, and the dreaded snoring. With the background noise muted or greatly reduced, it gives your mind a chance to relax and stop focusing on those sound patterns, allowing you to get the rest you need and deserve.
Floor Fans – A quiet oscillating tower fan could be just as effective at drowning out noise as headphones. Having multiple speeds and moving more air can all help at creating white background sounds to blend out distractions and let you get to sleep.
The best noise-canceling headphones for sleeping will be different for everyone depending on how you like to sleep. We’ve given you several great options for a variety of types of sleepers, and different budgets. You should have great success getting to sleep with whichever model you chose!
*Last updated 2023-01-08 at 16:52 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API