Listening to music while asleep has multiple benefits, such as improving your mood, boosting memory capacity, and lowering blood pressure. Leaving it on loudspeaker may not be possible, though, especially if you have housemates, bringing you to an alternative, such as wearing earbuds.

It can be bad to sleep with earbuds in, as it may cause severe damage to your ear. At times, the adverse effects of wearing earbuds while asleep, such as hearing loss, can be permanent. The noise-canceling feature of earbuds may also reduce your alertness in times of emergencies.

Wearing earbuds while asleep may be bad for your ears, but this doesn’t mean you’ll have to stop listening to music at night all at once. The succeeding sections further explain the negative consequences of sleeping with earbuds and provide alternatives to wearing one!

Is It Safe to Sleep With Earbuds In?

Listening to music while sleeping can improve your mood and increase your overall sleep quality. However, safety issues arise from how you listen to music while you sleep.

It is not safe to sleep with earbuds in your ear, as it can cause ear discomfort and may even lead to necrosis and hearing loss in more severe cases. The sound might accidentally get turned up while you’re sleeping, which could cause severe hearing loss.

Why Do People Sleep With Earbuds In?

People sleep with earbuds in, because they don’t want to hear others snoring, or perhaps the house is noisy. People may prefer listening to music through a pair of earbuds while asleep to avoid disturbing other people, cancel out background noise, or experience better sound quality.

To Avoid Disturbing Roommates or Housemates

If your habit is to listen to music even after you’ve fallen asleep, it can become more challenging if you stay in a dormitory with a roommate or in a house with poorly soundproofed walls. Many people opt to wear earbuds to avoid disturbing roommates or housemates, especially if they do not enjoy listening to music while asleep or if they have a different musical taste.

Wearing earbuds is somewhat a compromise. And besides the music itself, knowing that you are not bothering anyone else with your sleeping habit probably gives you a better night’s sleep.

To Cancel Out Outside Noise

If you live in a noisy neighborhood or with other people who are less sensitive to the noises they make, then a pair of earbuds could be a sweet escape. The music and noise-canceling feature of some earbuds make it easier to sleep at night, even with the cacophony of annoying random sounds.

It could also give you an illusory feeling of isolation, especially if you share a room with someone else.

For Better Sound Quality

Many earbuds give better sound quality at prices cheaper than the bigger speakers. In many cases, you can also connect them to your phone via Bluetooth, and you can adjust the sound quality to your preference through an app.

This may be one of the many reasons why people prefer wearing earbuds rather than playing music on loudspeakers.

The Safety Issues Related to Wearing Earbuds While You Sleep

Multiple safety concerns arise from wearing earbuds while you sleep. This includes earwax buildup, skin necrosis, irritation of the ear canal, and hearing loss. In severe cases, damage to the ears may also be permanent.

Earwax Buildup

Earwax production is an essential function of your ear to clean and protect itself against infections. However, problems arise when there is a substantial buildup of this substance in your ear.

Earwax buildup interferes with your hearing and can cause discomfort and even infections.

Inserting foreign objects, such as your earbuds, for prolonged periods can trigger this overproduction of earwax. So always keep this in mind whenever you’re thinking of going to sleep wearing them.


The pressure exerted by wearing your earbuds to sleep can cause pressure that can cut off blood supply to some parts of your ear canal. This can happen if you’re wearing earbuds that don’t fit well.

When blood supply is cut off, necrosis or the death of ear canal tissues sets in.

Irritation of Ear Canal

The friction of the earbuds with your ear canal can lead to ear irritation or what is called otitis externa. When this condition sets in, fluid buildup happens on the affected area in your ear, which can cause more severe ear problems when left unaddressed.

So always remember to not wear your earbuds in your sleep to avoid irritation.

Hearing Loss

Lastly, wearing your earbuds to sleep repeatedly can lead to hearing problems and in more severe cases, hearing loss. According to the US OSHA, an 8-hour exposure to sounds of at least 85 decibels is considered unsafe.

This threshold value can be exceeded during your sleep whenever you move and unknowingly adjust the volume.

Alternatives to Sleeping With Earbuds In

There are at least two alternatives to using a pair of earbuds while you sleep, and they are not necessarily expensive. You can use a portable Bluetooth speaker that you can place by your head when you go to sleep. Or you can use sound pillows that can be inserted into your regular pillow.

High-Quality Speakers

Some speakers can give you excellent sound quality at lower prices. The trick is that you just have to keep looking.

The Ortizan Portable Bluetooth Speaker comes with valuable features such as an extended Bluetooth range and waterproof protection so that you can use them even outside of the bedroom.

Just make sure to keep the volume low so it doesn’t become disruptive rather than relaxing.

Sound Pillows

The Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow allows you to insert it into your pillow and let it do its magic without noticeable discomfort. These sound pillows are portable speakers that you can sleep on, but they offer the same privacy as earbuds do, only without the dangers of earbuds.

Earmuffs and Headphones

Earmuffs are the oldest solutions for blocking out noise. They come in variety of styles to suit your taste, from wrap-around headbands to earmuff/sleep mask combos. Some of the products can even play music.

You might also want to read: 12 Alternatives to Earplugs for Sleeping


Music can be therapeutic, and incorporating it into your sleeping habit may bring even better returns. However, sleeping with earbuds in can be a different story. Falling asleep with your earbuds in can cause skin necrosis, irritation in the ear canal, and in extreme cases, permanent hearing loss.

To keep music integrated into your sleep routine, opt for alternatives such as speakers on low volume or sound pillows.

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