According to a 2018 survey, 62% of participants use music to fall asleep, while science shows that white noise helps people to sleep more soundly in noisy environments. Needless to say, the best noise-canceling headphones for sleeping could be the best investment you make when it comes to getting some shuteye — but how do you differentiate them from the best pairs for daytime use? First, decide which type of noise-canceling technology you're looking for (active or passive), and then ensure that the connectivity and overall design are conducive to how you sleep.
First, let’s talk about active noise-canceling versus passive noise-canceling. Active noise-canceling technology listens to ambient noise frequencies in your environment and creates opposite frequencies that cancel them out. If you’re looking to eliminate or seriously minimize background noise, active noise-canceling is definitely more effective — but it’s also more expensive. Passive noise-canceling (also called noise-isolating), on the other hand, uses physical features like padded ear covers or contoured earbuds in order to block out sound. These types aren’t as effective, but they’re often cheaper and less bulky.
Next, think about specific features that’ll help you sleep more soundly and with less restriction. For many, a wireless Bluetooth design is the best fit — but for those that don’t mind wires, make sure they’re long enough to accommodate a bit of movement. (And if you tend to move in your sleep, consider skipping wired models altogether.) While over-the-ear headphones are typically better for your ear health than earbuds, they can be cumbersome to wear to sleep. A mask-like design or a flat earbud may allow you to snooze more comfortably on your side.
According to both specific features and reviewer feedback, these are the three best noise-canceling headphones for sleeping.
1. The Most Comfortable Sleep Headphones — & The Most Affordable
While these MUSICOZY headphones don’t actively cancel out external noises, they do a lot of other things for an incredible price. The mask-like design lays flat over your ears without blocking your ear canals for a comfortable night’s rest — plus, it covers your eyes to prevent light disturbances. The disc-shaped speakers then deliver clear sound to your ears while the padded band muffles unwanted noises. Since they’re Bluetooth, they’re fully wireless, and the adjustable band fits most people without hassle. Last but not least, they have on-device controls so you can change the volume without reaching for your phone. Their 10-hour battery lasts all night long.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Noise-canceling: Passive
One reviewer wrote: “I am a side sleeper and a stomach sleeper; either way, I’m on the sides of my head all night and I find this Bluetooth sleep mask to be very comfortable. I got this mask to help me sleep through my husband’s snoring and it is sufficient for that purpose. I’m very impressed with this product and would recommend it to anyone.”
2. The Best Wired Pair (With Amazing Noise-Cancellation)
If you’re looking for the most advanced active noise-cancellation technology, look no further than Bose QuietComfort headphones. They are wired, but the cord measures over 4 feet long — plus, they have a few other features that make them conducive to sleep: They’re significantly less bulky than many other Bose options, and the unique ear tips keep them comfortably anchored in your ears. They feature on-wire controls to keep all of the functions right at your fingertips. The noise-cancellation technology is also rechargeable thanks to the lithium-ion battery, which can last up to 16 hours. You can get this pair for either Apple devices or Samsungs and Androids. However, the Apple version comes with a 3.5-millimeter jack so you’ll need an adapter.
- Connectivity: Wired
- Noise-canceling: Active
One reviewer wrote: “I wear these when I sleep to get the best most peaceful sleep ever. It is so nice to not be woken up by some strange car/siren noise. I use them when watching TV on the couch and lay on my side and can tune out the noise of the world.”
3. The Best Wireless Earbuds For Sleeping
With more than 11,000 reviews on Amazon, these TOZO NC9 Bluetooth headphones are a fan-favorite for all different types of activities — but there are several features that make them especially well-suited for sleep, too. For one, they’re fully wireless and have a sleek earbud design that lays flat against your ear for comfortable sleeping. For another, they use active noise-cancelation technology to minimize background disturbances. Finally, the earbuds’ batteries can last up to eight hours on one charge. With one-step Bluetooth pairing, they sync effortlessly with your phone on your bedside table, too.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
- Noise-canceling: Active
One reviewer wrote: “I've been using these buds for almost a month now and I'm very impressed. They fit and stay in your ear far better than most buds. [...] The noise-canceling is excellent and so is the sound. I use them to listen to hypnotic music to go to sleep. I can even roll over on my side and the bud that faces the pillow does not fall out. Excellent price. Highly recommended!”