Is It Bad to Sleep With Earbuds In: The Risks and a Good Alternative
Is it bad to sleep with earbuds in? It’s a question that many music lovers ask. Read this article to learn about the risks and discover a great alternative.
Another often-asked question is: “What is the link between sound and sleep?” The more common aspect of this relationship is that noise prevents people from falling and staying asleep. But for others, certain kinds of noise have the opposite effect.
We’re guessing that you’re one of the latter or you wouldn’t be reading this. Either you already own wireless earbuds or are considering a pair. And you’re smart to have doubts about sleeping with them overnight. Especially if you’re looking at nightly use.
Is it safe to sleep with earbuds? Here are the risks.
So, is it bad to sleep with earbuds in? We’ll not lie to you and say there are no risks. There are two things to consider. First, you’re putting foreign objects inside your ears. Second, it isn’t healthy to listen to loud noise over an extended period of time.
Yes, sleeping with earbuds in your ears is possible but is it safe? And as with anything else, it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into. Why? Because you want to be able to take the necessary precautions.
You develop a buildup of ear wax.
It depends on the type of earbuds you own. Though either can prevent air from circulating inside your ears. But one more than the other.
There are two kinds of earbuds: in-ear and half in-ear. In-ear earbuds usually have flexible silicone tips that go into the ear canal. (Sometimes deeper than they should.) Meanwhile, half in-ear earbuds sit near your ear canal.
In-ear earbuds could lead to a buildup of ear wax, which may prove harder to extract. This is because it gets packed nearer your eardrums because of the design of the tips. This makes it not only more difficult but dangerous to remove.
So if you’re going to buy a pair, choose half in-ear earbuds. That said it doesn’t mean that there’s zero risk of ear wax buildup.
You get an ear infection from excess moisture.
There is no such thing as a person with no ear wax. This icky gunk actually protects your ears. And since earbuds go into your ears, naturally they’ll be in contact with ear wax. So, cleaning your little sound buddies is a must.
Healthline recommends cleaning them at least once a week with rubbing alcohol or vinegar. And you should go earbuds-free for 18 hours after use. This is so your ears have time to dry out(1).
Ever had swimmer’s ear (also known as otitis externa)? If not, it’s an infection of the outer ear canal that results from water that stays in the ear (often after swimming).
Sealing off ventilation leads to moisture. And an excess could develop into a fungal or yeast infection.
An infection develops from scratches on your skin.
Otitis externa also happens because earbuds can scratch the skin of the outer ear canal, according to Banner Health(2). These breaks in the skin make the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Hello, infection!
The symptoms include swelling, redness and itching around your outer ear canal. It can also develop into scaly flakes of skin that peel off. Not a good thing, agree?
You risk impairing your hearing.
As we mentioned earlier in this article, listening to loud sounds for a long time isn’t safe for your hearing. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, listening to sound that’s over 85 decibels for 8 hours can lead to hearing loss(3).
Since earbuds are lodged inside the ears, you’re that much more exposed to noise even if it’s lower than 85 decibels. There are also going to be nights where you’re going to sleep longer than 8 hours.
And we’re throwing this in for good measure. Thirty decibels is the ideal volume of noise for good sleep quality. By the way, that’s pretty much a whisper.
So, if you must sleep with earbuds make sure to check how loud they can get. Then, make the necessary adjustments. Make sure the volume is less than 85 decibels. The lower, the better.
With earbuds, there’s also the risk of damaging your ear canal as you’re rolling in bed.
So, is it safe to sleep with earbuds in? From the looks of things, it doesn’t sound promising. But knowing the risks will help you take extra care if you decide to go for it anyway. Let’s do a quick summary of safety reminders:
Consider half in-ear earbuds since they don’t go inside the ear canal.
Clean them after every use, if possible. Once a week at minimum.
Make sure to go earbuds-free for at least 18 hours after long usage.
Turn down the volume, as much possible. Definitely lower than 85 decibels.
A Sleep Mask with Headphones is a Good Alternative
Fortunately, there is a better alternative to earbuds. In recent years, headbands housing speakers have made a huge impact.
They don’t enter your ears and slip comfortably around your head means they sure beat sleeping with earbuds. Think about the risks we discussed from having something inside your ears. You don’t need to worry about those with a headband with speakers.
It is what it sounds like. This cool innovation blocks out light while delivering white noise. (Or whatever it is that lulls you to sleep). Does it sound too good to be true? Let us convince you with our version of a sleep mask with headphones.
Manta Sleep Mask SOUND
Manta Sleep Mask SOUND is the most comfortable sleep mask in existence. And it’s also the best sleep mask with headphones for side sleepers.
We designed it to give the wearer 100% blackout and deliver decent sound quality. Plus, give side sleepers unbeatable comfort. Don’t get us wrong. This fully adjustable sleep mask works for all other sleep positions, too.
Fitted with razor-thin speakers so there’s no bulk
The speakers are adjustable; simply pull the tabs
Has 20 hours of battery life; comes with a USB cable
Zero audible battery notifications let you sleep in peace
Intuitive volume controls at the front of the mask for easy adjusting
2-layer infinitely adjustable head strap made from perforated foam
Removable interior for easy washing
Soft, comfy and ultra-breathable materials
C-shaped eye cups that flatten near your temples
Position the detachable cups anywhere in the mask’s interior for a custom fit
Each cup has a smart air bubble that expands to block out light as you switch sides
Zero pressure on your eyes and lashes
All you gotta do is pair it with a Bluetooth-compatible device. Then, get your favorite playlist or sleep app going, and you’re all set.
We hope this article answers your question: “Is it bad to sleep with earbuds in?” It has its risks, yes. But honestly, wearing them while you’re awake shouldn’t be a problem if it’s not for too long and at a decent volume.
Who can blame you for wanting to fall asleep to white noise or your favorite sleep-inducing tunes? So, why not give a sleep mask with headphones a shot? Drop a comment below to let us know how it goes.
(1) “How Often Should You Clean Your AirPods and Earbuds?” Healthline, www.healthline.com/health-news/how-often-should-you-clean-your-airpods-and-earbuds. Accessed 16 December 2022.
(2) “Ear Infections.” Banner Health, www.bannerhealth.com/services/ear-nose-and-throat/ear-infections. Accessed 16 December 2022.
(3) “Loud Noise Dangers.” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, www.asha.org/public/hearing/loud-noise-dangers. Accessed 17 December 2022.
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