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Best headphones for sleeping in 2022

Best headphones for sleep: Man asleep in bed wearing AirPods Pro
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Along with the best sleep apps and the best music for sleep, our best headphones for sleep recommendations could help you nod off more quickly. We test dozens of headphones and earbuds every year, and our best picks for sleep brings together the most practical and comfortable designs we've heard to help you get a restful night's shuteye so that you awake feeling revitalized and ready for the new day. 

To find out which models we recommend as the best headphones for sleep, read on.

What are the best headphones for sleep? 

Wireless in-ears

Sony's WF-1000XM4 take first place for their ability to remain comfortable after several hours of continuous wear along with a remarkably effective fit test that helps wearers to optimize the seal of the bud in the ear canal and achieve the very best sound. Throw in ANC, impressive battery life and a stack of special features, and you have a superb earbud package that's also a great option for sleep.

Wireless over-ears

The plush earpads of the Bose 700 headphones provided hours of comfort in our tests and should be suitable for most wearers. They offer the best noise cancelling tech bar none to help you luxuriate in the sound of peace and quiet, as well as excellent sound quality with music, and are worth paying a little extra for.

Best headphones for sleep: Wireless earbuds

The Sony WF-1000XM4 displayed over a tropical backdrop

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
Good levels of comfort and great sound

Specifications

Size: 1 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches (per bud)
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): Up to 12 hours; 35 hours (with charging case)
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Strong noise cancellation
+
Great battery life
+
Good levels of comfort

Reasons to avoid

-
Fit maybe finicky for some wearers

Feeling both luxurious and sturdy, Sony’s WF-1000XM4 are a particularly well-specified set of wireless earbuds for sleep. The optimal Earbud Tips test achieves the best fit possible and the app detected improper adjustments and provided the necessary feedback to ensure the buds were secure during our testing. The earbuds protrude a little but long-term comfort is high. 

The strong active noise cancelling performance, LDAC support for higher-quality music, customizable ambient listening mode, digital assistant support and full EQ customization make these one of the most versatile earbuds available today.   

Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review.

The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus wireless laid out on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
Low-profile buds with strong sound quality and long battery life

Specifications

Size: 1.1 x 0.6 x 0.6 inches (per bud)
Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): 9 hours; 45 hours (with charging case)
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Stellar audio performance
+
Long battery life
+
Low-profile design and good levels of comfort

Reasons to avoid

-
No active noise cancelling

The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus doesn't have noise cancelling, but there's plenty about this sleek pair of wireless earbuds to love, including the superb sound quality. The almost bullet-shaped design gives it a contemporary, sleeker appearance and allows for seamless insertion into the ear. The buds don’t dangle, nor do they stick out. Long-term comfort levels are good, and you can expect 7 to 8 hours' battery life with the Low Power profile.

Read our full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review.

The AirPods Pro worn by our reviewer

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)
Good comfort and sound quality, but fit may be finicky for some wearers

Specifications

Size: 1.2 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches (per bud)
Weight: 0.19 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): 4.5 hours; 24 hours (with charging case)
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable semi-custom fit
+
Great active noise cancelling
+
Easy to use controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life is a bit short 

Despite the slightly weird stem, the AirPods Pro offer a surprisingly secure fit for many thanks to a selection of different-sized eartips that ensure they don't fall out. Sound quality is high and the small earbuds are beautifully formed and remarkably comfortable to wear for long periods. You get a lot for your money in the Pro version versus the regular AirPods, including powerful ANC and a handy Transparency mode. 

Read our full Apple AirPods Pro review

Best headphones for sleep: Wireless over-ears

Bose 700

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)
Best over-ear headphones for ANC and comfort

Specifications

Size: Not specified
Weight: 9 ounces
Battery life (rated): Up to 20 hours
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Immensely comfortable
+
Excellent noise cancelling
+
Balanced audio

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly high price

With soft pillowy ear cushions, the Bose 700s are immensely comfortable headphones for long-term wear. We love the ultramodern design, and the slim, sexy silhouette. As one of the main contenders for the overall best noise-cancelling headphone crown, there is no denying that Bose has the most effective active noise cancelling technology on the market. Boasting 10 levels of ANC, the Bose work flawlessly to silence the majority of external sounds, allowing you to bask in the sound of peace and quiet even in the noisiest of surroundings. 

Most importantly, they achieve this without compromising sound quality, allowing listeners to enjoy clean, well-balanced sound reproduction. Bose’s companion app also lets you adjust the EQ for personalized audio. The only downside is battery life, which is not among the strongest we've seen.

Read our full Bose 700 review.

Black and ecru (off-white) color versions against a office window

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Lightweight over-ear cans with great sound

Specifications

Size: Not specified
Weight: 8.8 ounces
Battery life (rated): 30 hours (ANC on); 40 hours (ANC off)
ANC: Yes
Codec support: SBC, AAC, LDAC

Reasons to buy

+
Articulate and engaging sound
+
Great control options
+
Impressive noise-cancelation

Reasons to avoid

-
Redesign and eco credentials ups the price
-
Gets hot around the ears during longer listening

Sony's WH-1000XM5 over-ear headphones feel lighter compared to the Bose 700, despite sharing the same weight. Granted, Sony’s cans are bigger in width, but this doesn’t impact their level of comfort. The plush cushioning on the earpads was as soothing as resting your head on a soft pillow, and the wider cutouts allow for more ventilation around the ears to prevent moisture buildup during long listening sessions.

What's more, you get exceptional sound delivery, active noise cancellation performance and plenty of special features, including a Sony Headphones Connect app to personalize audio with several well-engineered presets or by manually adjusting the EQ to their liking.

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM5 review.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX headphones in an open case on picnic bench

(Image credit: Future)
Sumptuous comfort levels and bags of style

Specifications

Size: 7.7 x 7.9 x 2 inches
Weight: 10 ounces
Battery life (rated): Up to 40 hours
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Opulent-yet-tasteful design and finish
+
Engaging, energetic sound
+
Sumptuous comfort levels

Reasons to avoid

-
Rather expensive

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX over-ear headphones are undoubtedly pricey, but the sumptuous ear cushions and the use of luxury materials throughout combine to bring a feeling of total relaxation to anyone who wears them. In fact, these are so comfortable that we wouldn't mind betting that most wearers will experience the onset of sleep more quickly when putting on the B&Os. Clamping force is well-judged, and the earcups are slow to absorb your body-heat and even slower to give it back to you.

Active noise cancellation is built in and provides effective isolation. There’s a coherence and a unity to the way music is presented, and more than enough breathing space for soloists to express themselves, making them a deeply satisfying listen that really will help you relax and drift off. 

Read our full Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX review.  

Alternative sleep headphone options

Although we've not tested these alternative models, if you're looking for designs specifically targeted towards the sleep market, the Fulxet Sleep Headphones ($16) is a headband that could be worth considering according to Amazon customers that scored it 4.5 overall from more than 4,000 reviews. Also worth considering are the Bose QuietComfort 20 in-ear headphones (£249), which got 4.5 stars from 1,150 reviews on Amazon , and 5 stars from over 1,300 reviews at Best Buy.      

How headphones can help you sleep better

We all know about the health benefits a good night's sleep can bring and the effect waking up feeling refreshed has on our wellbeing, but sometimes sleep can be hard to come by. Most of us would like to get a better night's sleep, and wearing one of our best headphones for sleep can often help to resolve any sleep routine difficulties. 

All models with ANC tech have been tested for their noise cancellation capabilities so that you can rest assured they will actively block out sounds around you, enabling you to shut out the world and relax in a quiet and peaceful place at bed time. Alternatively, if you're hoping to drift off while listening to music, all the wireless models tested and rated on this list provide outstanding comfort, and received our recommendations for their top sound quality.

For the best albums to help you get a good night's rest, check out our music for sleep guide or try out one of our favorite sleep playlists on Spotify.     

How to choose the best headphones for sleep

Comfort — this is key with any pair of headphones that are going to help you drift off. Wireless designs are going to be best so that you don't get tangled up, but you'll need to work out whether you want an in-ear design from either our pick of the best wireless earbuds, or an over-ear design from our best wireless headphones guide. If you're going for an over-ear pair, make sure the ear cups are nicely cushioned and don't make your ears hot when worn for longer periods. 

How you sleep — what kind of sleeper your are should also be taken into consideration. For example, are you a side sleeper? If so, bulky on-ear headphones might not be practical as the earpieces can easily get squashed against the pillow-resting ear, and you may want to consider in-ear designs for greater comfort.   

Fit and ear coupling — with in-ears you'll need to get a decent seal from the ear tips in your ear canal for the best sound balance. A good seal also helps to provide and effective degree of passive noise isolation. You also need to consider a design that doesn't protrude too much and that doesn't apply unnecessary pressure on the ears should you roll on your side while sleeping. 

Playback controls you should consider the placement of the headphone controls, too. Some wireless models have controls built into the side of the earbud, which you don't want pressing down into the pillow, as it could activate them with the slightest movement. In-ears might work better with just one earbud in your non-pillow-resting ear, if you can live without listening in stereo.

Sound quality — last but by no means least, you need to consider sound quality. Thankfully, all the models listed here are excellent performers in their own right, so you just need to pick the design that works for you.

How we test the best headphones for sleep 

We thoroughly test every pair of headphones based on a variety of factors, and employ a consistent testing approach so any comparisons with other pairs are trustworthy and fair.

In this case, every pair of headphones and earbuds have been used over the course of a week for several hours at a time to assess long-term comfort and ease of use practicalities. This time also allows the tester to both gauge the sound quality across a mix of genres and volumes.

We also test the effectiveness of features like noise-cancelling in real-life situations, and will make sure manufacturer claims about battery life and Bluetooth range are accurate. Build quality, the ease of setup and any control schemes — including those involving an app — will also be judged.

We rate all our headphones and earbuds on a 5-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Products that excel in one or more particular fields and that's rated 4 stars or above may also receive an Editor’s Choice award.

If you're still having trouble sleeping, check out these 5 plants that could help you sleep better too.

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.