Less Noise, More Sleep: The Best Headphones To Wear To Bed

Sounds we don’t notice during the day can ruin our sleep at night. Check out our top picks for the best noise-canceling headphones to wear to bed for a quieter night.


Sounds outside your control may be ruining your sleep, whether it’s noise from your neighbors or that one fly that you just can’t find. The right noise-canceling headphones can help you tune out the disruptions that keep you awake so you can finally get some rest.

Our top three choices for the best noise-canceling headphones for better sleep:

Sony WH-1000XM4


Anker Soundcore Life Q20


Kokoon EEG Sleep Headphones


With a few exceptions, the best noise-canceling headphones tend to be expensive ($200-$400). Cheaper alternatives exist, but because comfort and sound-dampening ability are such important qualities in headphones for sleeping, many people find that spending the extra money on top-end models is worth it.

Read on to learn more about these and other great headphones to block out noise for more peaceful nights.

Sleep Quality Is Affected By Nighttime Noise

We all struggle to sleep some nights because of the noise that we can’t control. You may work hard to turn your bedroom into a tranquil slumber-haven, but still, lie awake fuming when your neighbors begin watching Saving Private Ryan at midnight with the volume turned up to 3000db. Or you have a rock-solid sleep hygiene routine, but it doesn’t help you tune out the hum of your fridge, which sounds like a bag of marbles rattling around a fan blade.

Poor sleep has a measurable impact on our health. Loud noises can both prevent us from falling asleep, and actually cause us to get lower sleep quality.

Noises that affect your sleep can come from anywhere, from the thunderstorm raging outside your window to the dog that thinks every whisper of wind harkens the coming of an ax-wielding intruder.

How Do Headphones Help?

Many people use noise-canceling headphones for sleep during travel, but they can actually also help improve your sleep at home in bed as well.

Put simply:

Headphones work by blocking out sound.

Some noise-canceling headphones work passively, using soft, sound-dampening materials to muffle the car alarms outside your window.

Other, more expensive, soundproof headphones use sound waves to literally cancel out many of the sounds coming in.

They might not drown out the sensation of your kids diving into your bed, but they’ll suppress the sound of the guy on the street, headed home from the bar, proclaiming his love of Toaster Strudel at the top of his lungs.

Using headphones during sleep also allows you to play sounds you like to hear (like a peaceful, rushing brook) that help drown out the sounds you don’t (like your roommates playing Animal Crossing).

But while there are definite benefits to using headphones to create a quiet sleep space, they aren’t perfect for everyone.

Some people don’t like having anything on their heads while they’re trying to sleep. Side-sleepers may also find that many of the best noise-canceling headphones press uncomfortably against the pillow. In addition, noise-canceling headphones are often expensive.

If that sounds like you, you might consider other options that block out nighttime noises, like white noise machines or ASMR videos.

How To Find The Right Headphones For Your Best Sleep

Unlike white noise machines or other sounds that you play in your room to help fall asleep, noise-canceling headphones offer a more personalized experience. You can use whatever music or sound helps you fall asleep quickly without disturbing a partner or housemate.

The padding of the headphones may also be soothing for some sleepers.

There are dozens of options for you to pick from, all at different price points and with different features, so it can feel overwhelming to know which pair is right for you. To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve listed our favorite picks for the best noise-canceling headphones for a better night of sleep.

Passive noise-canceling headphones (also called sound-isolating headphones) don’t use any technology—other than sound-dampening materials—to block out sound waves and help you sleep. They seal around the ear and use foam in the earpieces to prevent sound waves from getting in. The best noise-canceling earbuds use small silicone earpieces to seal out sound passively.

Sound isolating headphones tend to be cheaper than active noise-canceling headphones. However, they usually aren’t as effective as the best active noise-canceling headphones (which also employ passive noise-canceling technology).

These Beyerdynamic headphones isolate ambient noise at about 35db (decibels, a metric that measures sound intensity). With music playing through them, they will drown out most sounds that would normally wake you up. They’re comfortable, reliable, and effective. They are also the best wired headphones on our list.

Active noise-canceling headphones usually include the same materials and design of over-ear noise-isolating headphones, but they also use opposing sound waves to cancel out sound waves coming in.

If you imagine sound waves like ocean waves, with peaks and troughs, active noise-canceling technology works by putting out sound waves with the peaks and troughs reversed.

These noise-canceling sound waves work best for steady background noise (the hum of an airplane, for instance). In fact, many people refuse to fly without a pair. However, this type of headphone can have more trouble with sounds that are sharper, and less predictable, like conversations or sirens.

Quick warning:

The best active noise-canceling headphones are expensive, though you get what you pay for. In addition, some people find that the noise-canceling system makes their ears feel weird.

Our first pick is the Sony WH-1000XM4, which is widely considered among the best Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones you can buy. They offer high-quality audio, 30 hours of battery life, and wireless connectivity.

However, the Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 do rival Sony’s for quality and comfort. The Bose 700s offer Bluetooth wireless connectivity, controllable noise-canceling, and 20 hours of battery. A tad more expensive, these are available at $379.95.

Finding the best earbuds specifically for sleep can be difficult. Noise-canceling technology often relies on the over-ear design to block sound waves coming in. Still, many of us find that the most comfortable headphones are also the smallest. We prefer the lightweight and slim design of earbuds especially during sleep, and there are finally more of these options today than ever before.

For iPhone Users, the wireless Airpods Pro offer high-quality sound, a sleek look, and they pair seamlessly with other Apple products. They have also been designed with active noise-canceling technology to help you drown out the sounds of a plane full of people.

If you have an Android or Samsung phone, check out the Bose Quietcomfort 20 earbuds. They offer high-quality sound and active noise-canceling technology, plus the ability to tune into your environment if you need to hear a boarding announcement. Priced very similar to Airpods, Bose earbuds are available for $249.95.

Unlike headphones that are designed to play music or take calls, some headphones are designed specifically for sleeping in bed. These sleep-specific headphones are especially helpful for side-sleepers who often find regular headphones bulky and uncomfortable.

SleepPhones are headband headphones, designed specifically to be comfortable for sleepers. They are not “noise-canceling,” as they do not use materials or technology to block sounds coming in. SleepPhones instead work by using music or natural sounds from your phone to drown out outside noises. For homes with ambient noise that isn’t too loud, these may do the trick. Sleepphones are low-profile, come in a comfy headband, and are available in both corded and wireless versions.

EEG Headphones use electroencephalography technology, which uses electrodes along the scalp to record the electrical activity in your brain. They can tell when you’re alert and focused, or when you’re drowsy and falling asleep. They can also track—by measuring your brainwaves as you sleep—how restful your sleep is.

Kokoon’s EEG headphones are designed to be worn to bed and may be the most comfortable headphones on this list. The silicone ear cups are sculpted for comfort, no matter what position you take on your pillow.

Kokoon’s headphones offer active noise-canceling technology along with an audio library of exercises to help you fall asleep and natural soundscapes to promote relaxation. They use EEG brainwave sensors to monitor your relaxation and adjust the audio track to ensure that the sounds don’t disturb you. For instance, as you fall asleep the app will fade out your audio track and begin playing white noise to help drown out outside sounds. The EEG sensors also offer sleep tracking so you can determine what sleeping strategies work best for you.

It isn’t easy to find noise-canceling headphones to help you sleep that cost less than $100. Budget noise-canceling headphones don’t block sound as effectively as their more expensive cousins and may not be as comfortable over hours of sleeping. Their sound quality for playing music is also significantly lower.

Still, there are a few lower-priced options available that do compete with more expensive versions.

Anker’s Soundcore Life Q20 headphones offer comfortable, impressive noise reduction at 1/6th the price of the top-end brands. If you aren’t certain about using noise-canceling headphones for sleep, the Soundcore Life Q20s may be just the right price point to try it out.

You can’t prevent nighttime noises, but with the right noise-canceling headphones, you can keep them from disturbing your sleep.