If you're on the hunt for the best sleep headphones, it's likely you require a non-medical intervention to help you fall or stay asleep. Even more vital than a balanced diet or regular exercise, sleep is your body's time to heal and repair itself. Not having enough of it can lead to weight gain, poor memory and concentration, and a greater risk of illnesses.
We've looked at the best sleep headphones for helping you catch some Zzs and feel rejuvenated. Unlike the best noise-cancelling headphones for general use, these are geared specifically towards wearing at nighttime to soothe you into slumber (although some also feature traditional ANC technology too).
Our top pick right now is the Kokoon Sleep Headphones thanks to their fantastic noise-cancelling features, great audio performance, and excellent meditative features. While it's best for back sleepers rather than side-sleepers, it's a great item to add to your sleep routine, ensuring you feel ready for bed after listening to something through it.
A close second choice is the SleepPhones Effortless which is a thin headband that works well for side-sleepers as well as back sleepers, but lacks some finer features like a useful app and sleep tracking tools (but you could add one of the best sleep trackers to keep an eye on your sleep habits).
If you need more advice on what to look for, hop to the bottom of the page for some buying advice. If not, read on for our pick of the best sleep headphones 2021.
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The best headphones for sleep you can buy right now
Expensive they may be, but the Kokoon Noise-Cancelling Sleep Headphones are a dream to use. They're certainly worth the splurge for all the bells and whistles they bring to the table, providing you can justify the cost. In our Kokoon Sleep headphones review, we thought their best feature was their active noise cancellation, which means even if you sleep next to a loud snorer, you won't be disturbed. With the Kokoon app, it's possible to track your sleep reasonably accurately, sense motion and disturbance to learn about your sleeping patterns, as well as partake in various meditative sessions that soothe and help you sleep better. It's even possible to use these for stress relief purposes throughout the day too, giving you a moment's calm.
The downside to the Kokoon Noise-Cancelling Sleep Headphones is they take some getting used to. Side sleepers in particular may find it uncomfortable, unless they have a particularly plush pillow to settle into, so these won't suit the more sensitive amongst us. Still, even as a pair of headphones to use before going to bed, they're certainly a calming addition to your sleep hygiene routine.
Coming in at a close second, the SleepPhones Effortless have the advantage of being ideal for both side and back sleepers. That's thanks to their thin but comfy headband that means you won't notice you're wearing them, no matter how much you're tossing and turning. SleepPhones may cost a bit more than other similar alternatives but they're aided by the fact they're made from hypoallergenic material and the SleepPhones Effortless use Bluetooth connectivity for cable-free convenience. There's an induction charging base too that's a little awkward at first but, ultimately, quite practical.
You won't have to worry about getting tangled in a 3.5mm cable while you sleep and you can simply place the headband back on its base for charging in the morning. A 10 hour battery life and up to 10 meter range proves useful too. The only real downside here is that you'll need to pair it up with your own choice of meditation or sleep app rather than use a dedicated solution. Head to our SleepPhones Effortless review to find out more.
CozyPhones are, for lack of a better word, cosy. These on-ear sleep headbands are made of plush fabric and a cool mesh lining that makes them extremely comfortable, perfect to sleep in. However, the CozyPhones Sleep Headphone's biggest sleeping point might just be its price. It's certainly a bargain, and just the ticket if you're looking for a budget solution to your slumber blues.
Of course, at that price range, you're bound to get a few drawbacks, and this one's got its fair share. Its 3.5mm cable is a bit short. It's been known to shift around, especially if you move a lot when you sleep. And, the sound quality isn't anything to write home about. Still, if you're looking to save some money while also getting your full eight hours' sleep, you can't go wrong with this.
If the SleepPhones Effortless sounds most appealing to you, but you're still working with a limited budget, then perhaps the SleepPhones Classic is a much better option. It's essentially the same sleep headband made of the same breathable, hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking fabric for comfort, only in wired form. So, while you're not getting Bluetooth connectivity and wireless charging, you're also paying much less. You need not worry about about the 3.5mm audio cable either, as this has a flexible cord that's four feet long – enough to let you stay connected to your phone without needing it to be that close to you. Of course, there's not much here in terms of features unlike Effortless, but that's hardly a deal-breaker. As long as you don't mind going with the wired option.
Unknown brands on Amazon aren't always the most trustworthy, but LCDolida's received top marks on its wireless sleep headphones that also moonlights as an eye mask. It's cheap, but for the price, it's surprisingly feature-rich, with Bluetooth connectivity, more than 10 hours of battery life, an adjustable headband, and an eye mask that blocks out all the light. That's quite a mouthful for something that sets you back so little cash. Much like other budget options, it's also got a couple of flaws. There's no padding over the speakers, which can be slightly uncomfortable, and the sound quality isn't good. But, overall, this is an excellent sleep headphones if you want to block out your two senses for the sake of sleep.
If wearing headbands aren't your thing, then a pair of ear hook headphones might be more your speed, especially if you tend to get hot when your sleeping. Dudslabs Bedphones might just be a better solution for you, though that isn't really what sets these apart from everything else on the list. More affordable than KoKoon's headphones, these are not only feature-rich, but also come with a couple of accessories – namely an eye mask and a travel case or pouch.
As far as its features, it has memory wire ear hooks that contour to the shape of your ears over time, helps relieve tinnitus, and comes with a sleep sounds playlist. It doesn't matter whether you're a side or back sleeper, or whether you stay still or move around a lot. These Bedphones have a patented on-ear design that allows it to lie flat between your ears and your pillow, and come in wired and wireless models.
You could have a pair of headphones for your active endeavours and another for sleep, or you could go the minimalist route and use one for both. The Navly V5.0 Sports Headband Headphones lets you have your cake and eat it too, audio-wise, with its breathable, stretchable fabric that stops sweat in its tracks and stays in place when you're asleep. It's wireless, which makes it perfect for when you're working out and don't want cables to get in your way, and it's got a range of up to 13 metres, so you don't have to be joined at the hip with your phone.
The battery life could be better – eight hours is hardly enough for daily and nightly use – as could its sound quality. But, such a low price, it might not really matter.
While not exactly headphones, QuietOn earbuds have a place in this list thanks to its headphone features. These are certainly not for consumers who want to listen to a podcast before bed or have music playing while they sleep. However, these aren't your run-of-the-mill earbuds, either. They boast active noise cancelling, and have silencing and hearing modes that you can toggle with a push of a button. For a pair of earbuds, that's pretty smart. If you don't care to listen to music and just want to drown out the sounds of a busy street outside or your loudly snoring partner, these might just be the best headphones for sleeping for you. Even if, again, they're not exactly headphones.
How to choose the best sleep headphones for you
Being comfortable in bed is key to falling asleep. So, when choosing the best headphones for sleep, find one that doesn't get in the way of your comfort.
Better yet, find the kind of headphones that suits the way you sleep. If you're a side-sleeper, you might prefer a headband that's not only thin enough, but also has plush padding around the speakers so your ears won't suffer. If your body temperature tends to rise during sleep, a pair of earbuds might be a better option to help you stay cool. And if you move around a lot, perhaps you should skip the wired options altogether.
Much like regular headphones, the best headphones for sleeping come in wired and wireless options. Wireless ones are, perhaps, the most ideal, as you won't have to worry about getting tangled in cables whilst you're off to slumberland. However, if you tend to stay in the same position when sleeping, the 3.5mm audio route might just give you better audio quality.
If you do pick a wireless pair of headphones, make sure to check its battery's longevity as well as charging time. You only technically need 8 hours of battery life to get a full night's sleep, and many headphones for sleep offer up to 10 hours and take about two to three hours to charge. If you prefer not to charge your headphones every single day, you might want to look for something with up to 20 hours of battery life.
Most sleep headphones today aren't as feature-rich as regular headphones. However, there are a few bells and whistles that might prove instrumental to getting you that good night's rest you've been missing. That includes active noise cancellation, relaxation sounds that you can play through an app, and an included eye mask. If you have sensitive skin, choose a mask that is hypoallergenic or moisture-wicking.