The best sleep headphones can be a really helpful non-medical solution for anyone having trouble falling or staying asleep. Getting a decent amount of quality sleep every night is essential for your health, more so than regular exercise or a balanced diet. Sleep gives your body the chance not only to rest, but also to heal and repair itself; without enough of it you run the risk of illness and weight gain, not to mention poor memory and concentration.
To save you reaching for the sedatives, we've found the best sleep headphones that'll help you drop off naturally and wake up feeling rested and recharged. While the best noise-cancelling headphones do a similar job, these are designed to be worn in bed to help you get to sleep (although you'll find that some of them pack in active noise cancellation too).
If you're in a hurry to find the perfect bedtime cans, look no further than the Kokoon Sleep Headphones. While their design means they're not so good for side sleepers, if you sleep on your back you'll find them a worthwhile addition to your sleep routine thanks to top audio performance and noise cancellation, as well as slumber-inducing meditative features.
You'd do well to check out the SleepPhones Effortless, too; with a thin headband they're good for both side and back sleepers, although with a lack of more advanced features such as an app or sleep tracking tools you might want to invest in one of the best sleep trackers to go with them. 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 2022.
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The best headphones for sleep in 2022
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.
Kokoon's Nightbuds are so close to excellent it's infuriating. Unlike the sleep headphones above they're suitable for even side sleepers, they're comfortable to wear once you've got used to them, and they'll stay in place even if you tend to toss and turn in the night. Our big issue when testing them was that the silicon eartips have a tendency to occasionally stay in your ears when you remove them; your mileage may vary.
The other problem we had with them was that the audio quality isn't all that for listening to music. The passive noise cancellation's good for masking unwanted noise, and its built-in sensors do a good job of tracking your sleep and adjusting the Nightbuds' volume to match. But you won't get the best out of your favourite tunes with them because the audio level's so low; instead these are more suited to using with the MyKokoon app, or for playing soothing white or pink noise to help you drift off. They're great for improving your sleep habits, but for the price we wish they were just a little more versatile. Get all the facts from our Kokoon Nightbuds review.
Coming in at a close third, 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.
Strictly speaking the QuietOn 3 sleep earbuds don't belong here because they're not headphones; instead they're fancy high-end earplugs with active noise cancellation that don't play audio. Which shouldn't be a problem if all you want is some peace so that you can get to sleep at night or merely shut out unwanted noise at any other time.
QuietOn released its first noise-cancelling buds back in 2015 and these are the latest iteration, and while at £229 they're definitely not cheap, they do the job really well. They'll fit perfectly in your ear (with a choice of four foam tips to ensure the best seal), and while they don't block out all noise, they do a great job of muting low and mid frequency noises of the kind that would usually keep you awake at night: neighbours walking around, televisions turned on and snoring partners. The fact that they don't play audio will be a red line for many, but if you value peace and quiet at any price they're probably worth the investment. Find out how we got on with them here.
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.
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.