is sleeping with earbuds dangerous

Is Sleeping with Earbuds Dangerous?

Is sleeping with earbuds dangerous and should you rather sleep without them? There are several advantages and disadvantages of sleeping with earbuds. In this article, we’re going to uncover the answer to this question once and for all.

As a sleep-blogger and electrical engineer, that’s one of the questions, I just have to answer.

Question: Is sleeping with earbuds dangerous?

Answer: Yes, sleeping with earbuds is dangerous for your health and sleep quality. Due to the pressure, they cause on your skull, you can wake up with a headache and a stiff neck. Also, there could be unknown radiation side effects. And earbuds start itching after a few hours which causes even more sleep disruption.

But there’s even more to know. Let’s take a look at more risks and dangers of wearing earbuds when sleeping.

Is Sleeping with Earbuds Dangerous?

Let’s find out why sleeping with earbuds on isn’t as safe as you imagine. Here’s what could happen if you wear earbuds with music on throughout the night.

Earbuds cause dangerous pressure during sleep

Even though earbuds are small, they can have a big impact on your sleep quality. When you sleep with headphones, you’ll notice that after a few hours, the headphones will start to hurt your ears. Especially if you’re a side or belly sleeper, the headphones will act as a hard, little plastic body that constantly presses against your skull.

The constant pressure on your skull that your earbuds cause can lead to disrupted sleep quality and headaches.

Tense sleep posture

When you sleep with earbuds on, your sleep posture tenses up. Even if you don’t notice it, the earbuds will be uncomfortable to lie on, so your head takes in another sleep position that it’s not used to.

For example, when you wear earbuds, you subconsciously turn your head by a small angle to avoid the pressure when you sleep. The unusual angle can strain your neck and could cause you to wake up with neck pain the next morning.

Additionally, whenever you sleep in a position you are not used to, your sleep quality decreases.

Bluetooth Earbuds radiate while you sleep

Bluetooth earbuds could be dangerous to wear while you sleep, because of the radiation levels. Although the radiation power of Bluetooth is very small (just a milliwatt), it’s in a similar frequency as a microwave.

On top of that, you wear earbuds inside your ears – which means right next to your brain. Sadly, we don’t know the effects of electromagnetic radiation on the human body yet. There have been some studies showing associations between low sperm quality in men and wearing a phone in your pocket. But associations don’t automatically mean that one causes the other.

For you, I made the effort, to personally contact an electrical engineering professor regarding the radiation levels of phones, earbuds and other personal everyday devices. He replied “The radiation levels of home devices are peanuts”, meaning that he is sure that electromagnetic radiation is too weak to cause any dangerous impacts on your health.

Still, if you feel like there could be a danger, earbuds will disturb your sleep quality simply because you worry about it.

Earbuds start itching at night

When you wear earbuds for a few hours continuously, your ears will start itching. That’s because trapped moisture builds up inside your ear. The increased moisture can cause increased bacteria growth and thus a higher risk of infection. In my opinion, this a much more immediate danger when you sleep with earbuds.

Also, the itching will force you to move, and prevent healthy, uninterrupted sleep.

Cordless earbuds like AirPods can fall out

When you want to sleep with Apple AirPods, you can be sure to lose them during the night. Even though AirPods sit firmly inside your ears during the daytime, sleeping with them is a whole different story. The friction from your pillow will cause them to fall out.

This can become dangerous if you are travelling on a plane, a bus or other public transportation systems.

When they fall out while you sleep, you’ll never find them again. If you are unlucky, you’ll find them but they broke.

Earbuds can break due to overheating

Earbuds, especially Bluetooth earbuds like the Apple AirPods, have built-in microelectronic chips. Also, they have a built-in battery. Microelectronics work fine as long as they stay cool. That’s the reason your notebook often has a built-in fan.

Short times of wearing (2 hours or less) are also manageable for your earbuds. But when you wear them for 8 or more hours in your warm bed, they will heat up and can get damaged.

Every night you sleep with earbuds, you risk permanent damage to your earbuds’ battery life.

Wrong music disrupts your sleep

A study has investigated the effects of music on your sleep. While calm, soft music can generally help you sleep, you can dangerously disturb your sleep if you listen to the wrong stuff at night.

Any music with a beat and rhythm, fast-changing melodies and a singer is not good while you sleep. Sleeping while listening to techno, goa, rock, trance, pop or anything similar will disturb your sleep quality significantly.

The only music that’s acceptable is meditative relaxation music and maybe soft piano sounds.

Why you should never sleep with AirPods

In case you have earbuds that are shaped like the Apple AirPods, don’t even think about wearing them at night. Because they have a long stem, there is a bigger area that presses against your skull at night.

Also, the stem acts as a lever. If you fall asleep with them, you will easily lose them because the stem leverages the effects of friction.

apple airpods stem can be dangerous for sleeping

On top of that, AirPods have an uncovered hard plastic surface that could hurt you at night. Other earbuds have some kind of silicone or sponge cushion for your ears.

AirPods are amongst the most unsuited earbuds you can wear while sleeping. In case you still need some music at night, here’s my tip: Get a new pair of earbuds that are meant just for the night.

Best earbuds for sleeping

Here are the earbuds I recommend to use for sleeping.

With the right earbuds, you make sure that your ears and your sleep quality stay safe at night. I picked these earbuds because they

  1. are cordless
  2. have a long battery life (lasts for the whole night)
  3. don’t have a “stem” like other earbuds
  4. are affordable
  5. are waterproof (nightly sweat and moist can’t break them)

Alternatives to earbuds to sleep with at night

If you feel like you want to listen to music while you sleep, don’t worry, there are better alternatives to earbuds.

When you are at home, in your own bedroom, you can use speakers. Falling asleep to music from speakers avoids nearly all the dangers of sleeping with earbuds.

With speakers

  1. there are no earbuds pressing against your skull
  2. you can acquire any sleeping position you want
  3. you’ll have no itchy ears.

Also, speakers mix with ambient noises which can be healthy as it helps you fall asleep without completely covering all noises. If you are, for example, used to sleeping with earbuds and you just can’t sleep without, speakers are a great alternative to slowly stop depending on music at night.

Bluetooth Speakers for Sleeping

  • Anker Soundcore Boost Speaker (click here to check the price on amazon) – Personally, I use these speakers everywhere (they are my all-time favorite, one of the best products I’ve ever bought)! The best thing about them is that they have a “bass-boost” button, which completely transforms their sound quality. For its small size (about the size of two hands), it has an incredible, room-filling sound. The description says 12-hour playtime, but in my experience, it’s even more than that. It will last you at least two nights.
  • JBL Charge 3 Speaker (click here to check the pricing on amazon) – One of my friends has these speakers, and they have a very similar, room-filling sound as the Anker speakers. However, the JBL speakers are a little higher in price.

I can recommend both of these speakers for sleeping with music. I’ve found that they both have nice, room-filling sound, and most importantly for sleeping: They have insane battery life that will easily last throughout multiple nights.

Is Sleeping with Earbuds Dangerous? – The Outline

Because of all the downsides we’ve talked about, I would definitely say that sleeping with earplugs is dangerous

It disrupts your sleep quality and can even cause you to wake up with a headache, itchy ears and a stiff neck.

Instead, picking up new speakers for listening to music while sleeping, is a much safer variant.

You are less exposed to radiation because speakers are not attached to your head as earplugs are, and you can’t lose them. Imagine, what a hassle it is to search for your cordless earplugs every morning when you wake up.

If you absolutely need to wear earbuds at night, stick to my recommendation and get cordless, small earbuds that fit right inside your ear. By doing so, you minimize friction and pressure at night, so you can comfortably and safely fall asleep with them.

Please just don’t use the dangerous Apple AirPods for sleeping. Their material is way to hard. It can induce headache and it could potentially break the earbuds. I bet you’d rather save that money and get some extra earbuds for the night.

Anyways, I hope you found this article helpful!

If you found this article helpful, check out all my other sleep improvement guides here!

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