How Do You Pick Perfect Sleep Headphones?
This is a tricky question! It’s sort of like picking the perfect pair of shoes or eyeglasses. You can look at images and reviews all you want, sure. At the end of the day, though, a big part of your “perfect” choice comes down to how it feels against your ears when you’re using them.
Because sleep headphones are often considered wearable, it makes sense that fit is paramount. Remember that! No amount of good press or enticing discounts can replace that feeling.
Of course, there’s also the matter of answering the basic question: Do you really want or need sleep headphones? People are bound to be pickier and more critical of anything that they feel is a last resort they shouldn’t have to use.
If you are having trouble sleeping because of unwanted sounds seeping into your bedroom, check out our noise reduction tips first. You can also try using earplugs if the source of the noise is closer, like a snoring sleeping partner.
If you truly are looking for sleep headphones because you would like to drift off while listening to music, ambient sounds, or guided meditation recordings—our reviews are here for you.
How Can Our Sleep Headphones Reviews Help?
We mention this often, but it’s worth repeating: Here at Good Night’s Rest, we never want to impose and make the final choice for you. Our reviews are meant to be easily digestible summations of all the pertinent details for each product.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to actually test the products we review ourselves! For the most part, though, we do it the tedious but informative way.
With the mindset and passion of an obsessive customer that wants to know everything about something before making a purchase, we do a deep dive for all things related to the product. We pore over press releases, news bits, verified customer reviews. We have long discussions with brands’ support teams over information that’s unclear to us.
Yes, that’s right. We do all the research, so that you don’t have to. That’s our tagline, after all!
What Should You Consider When Choosing Sleep Headphones?
As we mentioned above, sleep headphones should be something you want to use—or else you will likely not give any of these products a fair chance. You should also take into account how exactly you plan to use your sleep headphones. Are they only for sleep, or would you like to use them for other things?
These headphones variants are meant to be kept on throughout sleep, but they do have other uses. For example: You can use them for periods of quiet wakefulness or meditation. Some use them to listen to recordings that benefit from a more immersive experience, like audio books and podcasts.
Some kinds of sleep headphones may also be used while doing exercises or chores—if you’re not the kind to blast your music on speakers, that is. Sleep headphones are just headphones that are designed to stay on properly all night, after all.
If you’re set on sleep headphones primarily for sleep, though, there are essential questions you need to tackle before choosing the one that’s right for you.
1. How Good Are the Materials and Design of the Sleep Headphones?
Lack of durability is actually the core of most of the negative feedback we’ve seen for all of the sleep headphones we’ve reviewed. Why? We believe that it’s because sleep headphones are a curious contradiction: a niche product that looks very commonplace. What do we mean by this?
We said it earlier: Sleep headphones are just headphones meant to be kept on throughout your nighttime rest. You know how they should function, and you probably own similar products already! It feels like it should have the same sturdiness at the same price point as our regular headphones. This isn’t true, though.
The fact is that many sleep headphone designs focus on fit and comfort, rather than durability. It’s what makes sleep headphones for sleep, after all. Otherwise, what would make them different from the same pair of headphones you use while commuting, running, or working out at the gym?
Want durable sleep headphones? Use normal headphones and see if they’re comfortable enough for you to wear to bed. If not, here is an alternative: Judge how good the materials and design of sleep headphones are by how much you want to keep using them night after night.
Some helpful follow-up questions: Do the sleep headphones come with replaceable parts? Does the sleep headphones brand sell said parts separately? What are the warranty conditions of the sleep headphones?
2. How Compatible are the Sleep Headphones with the Way You Sleep?
Compatibility and comfort—which we will discuss in the next section—are different! This is especially true for sleep headphones. You may like the way certain sleep headphones fit, but will they fit the same way while you’re sleeping?
To grasp what we mean here, we ask that you think about how you sleep. Are you an active sleeper or do you stay in one position all night? Do you sleep hot or cold? Do you wake easily? The answers to the queries above are important because they could eliminate a lot of options immediately.
If you toss and turn, wireless sleep headphones may be better to avoid wires tangling or wrapping around your neck and in your hair. If you sleep hot, you may want to stay away from headband-type sleep headphones; or find headbands made of breathable material. If you wake easily due to loud noises, know that most sleep headphones are NOT noise-canceling headphones.
Syncing or plugging your sleep headphones into your smartphone in to use a music player or the brand’s own app also comes with issues. You may be tempted to check your phone constantly, especially if you hear notifications going off. Remember: Using anything with a digital screen at night has a negative impact on your sleep health! Manage your gadget use in the hours leading up to bedtime very carefully.
Some helpful follow-up questions: What device are you going to be using with your sleep headphones? How long do you need the cord to be? If you have long hair, will using sleep headphones necessitate that you tie your hair or wrap it in a scarf while you sleep?
3. How Does It Feel to Wear the Sleep Headphones All Night?
Now we get to the part where we talk about comfort. How do the sleep headphones feel? This is all on you. People already have many preferences when it comes to normal headphones—in-ear, on-ear, over-ear, wired, wireless, etc.—so it’s understandable for someone to be particular about how sleep headphones fit and feel.
Most sleep headphones boast of having thin speakers that even side sleepers won’t feel when they’re lying down. Some of them have adjustable parts that you can move and form to fit the shape of your ear. Some rely on a headband to keep the headphones secure.
Whatever the case may be, this is a question you can’t answer unless you try the product for yourself and gauge how you feel about it after a whole night of having it on. Are you ears tender? Are there little aches or pains around where the headphones sit against your head? Did it feel like you were wearing anything at all?
Some helpful follow-up questions: Do the sleep headphones come with a trial period and a return policy? If they aren’t comfortable enough to have on all night, will they still work as normal headphones?
4. How Much Do the Sleep Headphones Cost?
Ah, yes. The final criterion of every review. How much is it? The number can’t really be judged on its own, though. When you think about the price of sleep headphones, consider everything that comes with it.
Most, if not all, will come with some sort of pouch, satchel or carrying case. Some come in different colors and designs. Some will have specific apps developed for their use. Some will have a trial period and return policy. We recommend spending the upper range of your budget limit only if the product has the latter.
There are some very cheap sleep headphones out there without a warranty, but we do advise against choosing those. You will be using sleep headphones as often as you sleep, so while this isn’t an essential purchase, you do want to choose something that won’t break in a few uses.