The Best Headphones For Sleeping And Noise Cancelling


Jan 17, 2021

As much as silence can be golden at night, sometimes listening to music in bed is the perfect way to wash off the metal dust at the end of a long day.

My partner prefers total silence, so even though I’d love to play music through my bedroom speakers, I use a good set of headphones and keep the mellow playlist to myself.

As well as enjoying your own music, headphones are also an effective way to avoid being kept awake by noisy neighbors or a relentlessly snoring partner.


Fabric or noise-canceling?


As is often the case with tech products these days, there’s a confusingly wide range of designs and styles of headphones available.

You can find padded fabric headphones that are specifically designed to be comfortable to wear in bed. And you can also use any headphones you like if you sleep on your back, including high-end noise-canceling custom sleeping earplugs.

You might be able to lie on your side with smaller in-ear versions, but bulky over-ear headphones won’t allow you to sleep on your side.

Other than comfort, the main differences lie in their ability to block out external sound, the speaker quality, and price. Fabric headphones don’t do so well at blocking loud snoring but are usually more comfortable and less expensive.

Noise-canceling headphones will bring you relief from unwanted external noise, and have superior sound quality. They are probably best for back sleepers though as they tend to be larger in size.

In this review, I’ll be looking at the fabric sleep headphones that have most impressed me, along with some budget options. And I’ve also included my favorite noise-canceling headphones for those who really want to shut the world out at night.


1. AcousticSheep SleepPhones

Of the many fabric headphones I’ve tried, the AcousticSheep SleepPhones are my clear favorites, especially as a side sleeper. The main plus is that they have very flat speakers with ample padding, so you can easily lie on your side for long periods of time.

AcousticSheep has created several versions of the SleepPhones: one with a standard cable 3.5mm pin connector, wireless Bluetooth versions, and easy charging style, and even one with a wireless transmitter for your TV.

I personally use the wireless Bluetooth version, which is convenient, comfortable, and has decent sound quality. Sure, it’s not the same as high-end Bose headphones (see below). But podcasts and radio sound clear, and I can hear the full range of music when relaxing in bed, with no sound distortion.

They don’t have active noise-cancellation, but the extra padding compared to budget fabric headphones does help block out a little more of the outside world.


2. Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

The Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II will take your bedtime listening to a whole new level. If you need to block out external noise, such as snoring, traffic or noisy neighbors, they are very much up to the task.

Having tested many different models, I’ve found that the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II are able to reduce background noise significantly better than any other noise-canceling headphones I’ve tried.

Even if the external noise is unusually loud, when you add your music on top of the active noise-cancelling, you can go a long way to reducing how much the unwanted noise continues to bother you at night.

As you would expect from Bose, the sound quality is superb, both for music and spoken word such as radio or podcasts. And that makes all the difference if you want to create your own little audio cocoon and enjoy your music to the max.

The fact that they can be used wirelessly with Bluetooth means you don’t need to worry about having a cable in bed, which I find more convenient at night. You’ll get up to 20 hours of music on a full charge, or around 40 using just the noise cancellation.

If you’re a fan of smart home systems, you’ll appreciate that the headphones are Alexa enabled. So with the touch of a button, you can control your music in the dark, as well as access other smart assistant features.

The main downside is that over-ear headphones of this size aren’t practical for side sleepers. But if you just want to relax in bed with some music before taking them off to sleep, it’s not an issue.

You could also try them with a doughnut-shaped pillow, which might sound silly but does exist. Really though, if you’re a side sleeper, flat fabric headphones are probably a better bet.

A second point to consider is that they are comparatively expensive, which isn’t a surprise for high-end headphones. When you listen to them, the awesome speaker quality soon explains clear why they command a higher price.


Big Eear


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