Is Sleeping with Headphones or Earbuds Dangerous?

It can be dangerous to sleep with earbuds or headphones. Doing so can cause potential long-term hearing damage and other issues with ear health. Sleeping with headphones on is always harmful, but there are risks involved.

This post will examine if sleeping with headphones or earbuds is dangerous. I’ll highlight all of the risks you take if you sleep with them and provide you with some other relevant information. 

Let’s jump in. 

Key Takeaways

  • Sleeping with headphones on does pose potential risks to your hearing and ear health, so it’s best not to do it. 
  • Some potential risks that come with sleeping with headphones on include long-term hearing loss, build-up of earwax, and discomfort in the ears. 
  • Sleeping with headphones on a single time is not likely to lead to damage, but doing so repeatedly for long periods can. 

Is Sleeping with Headphones or Earbuds Dangerous? 

If you use headphones or earbuds often, there’s a good chance you’ve fallen asleep while wearing them. You don’t need to panic about this happening every once in a while, but you shouldn’t make a habit out of it. 

Sleeping with headphones or earbuds can be dangerous, and there are some long and short-term risks related to doing so. It’s not that common for these to happen, but it is possible. So it’s good to know about the dangers if you use headphones. 

To be safe, you probably shouldn’t sleep with headphones on. Not only can it be dangerous, but it’s also pretty uncomfortable, and you aren’t likely to get good sleep. So just don’t do to avoid any of the potential dangers, which I’ll break down in the section below. 

Both headphones and earbuds can cause similar issues, so there is no safer option between the two. No matter what style or type of headphones you have, don’t sleep with them on. 

What Happens if You Sleep with Earphones In? 

The biggest risk of sleeping with headphones or earbuds is hearing damage. If you are a deep sleeper, you might not notice if the volume is up really high. And prolonged exposure to high volumes can lead to hearing loss. 

Hearing loss typically happens over long periods of time. So falling asleep with your headphones on a few times isn’t likely to cause it. But if you sleep with them all the time, this is a very serious risk. 

Potential issues can also appear from leaving earbuds in for too long. This can damage your ear canal, leading to discomfort and possible hearing loss. And there are a few other risks to it as well. 

If you’ve ever left earbuds in for a long time, you’ve probably noticed they can get really uncomfortable. This is because your ear canal gets sore, and the pain is the body’s way of telling you to remove them. 

Now, if you sleep with them in, you probably won’t be as receptive to the subtle cues your body gives you when it needs a change or rest. So you leave those earbuds in even longer than they should. 

The risk of this is a build-up of ear wax because your ears are trying to expel the foreign object (the earphones) inside. This isn’t a huge issue if you take the buds out, but if you do it over and over, you could have problems. 

Another minor issue with sleeping with headphones or earbuds is discomfort and sore ears. This isn’t a big deal in the long term, but it can be very uncomfortable and affect your sleep or your ability to wear headphones the next day. 

Can Sleeping with Earbuds Cause Ear Infections? 

Though rare, it is possible for ear infections to develop if you sleep with earbuds. It’s another reason you shouldn’t sleep with headphones of any kind. If you’ve ever had an ear infection, you know how uncomfortable they are. 

When you wear earbuds, they can trap moisture from water or sweat in your ears. When this moisture sits in your ears for long periods, bacteria and other gross things can start to grow in them. And that’s what leads to ear infections. 

The longer you keep that moisture trapped in your ear like a science experiment, the more likely you will develop an ear infection. And if you sleep with them in, you are looking at six to eight hours of letting that Petry dish brew.

A nasty ear infection can require antibiotics and take a while to heal up. That’s on top of the pain and discomfort it can cause. So don’t risk getting one by using earbuds when you sleep. It’s easy to avoid. 

Sleeping with Headphones Death

Some rumors are floating around online that sleeping with headphones can cause death. But don’t worry, there aren’t any documented cases of this happening, and it seems to be hearsay more than truth. 

The rumors may have started because of the possibility of long-term headphone use leading to skin necrosis. Necrosis basically translates to death. But this condition only relates to part of your skin, not your entire body. 

Final Thoughts

Sleeping with headphones or earbuds can definitely be dangerous, and you risk long-term hearing loss and several other health issues if you do it. At the very least, you’ll probably wake up with sore ears. 

You don’t really need to worry if you fall asleep with headphones in every once in a while. But you don’t want to do it every day!

Have you ever fallen asleep with headphones or earbuds? Did you have any issues? Let me know in the comments below.

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