The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones for a Better Night's Sleep
Falling asleep in a new or urban environment can be a challenge. And we all know that lack of sleep—or even worse, sleep deprivation—is no joke, especially when it comes to conquering your to-do list the next day. But beyond your thread count (note: a cool, quiet, and dark environment is preferred), eliminating distracting sounds should ultimately be one of your top priorities.
"A noisy sleep environment can contribute to light, fragmented sleep with more frequent awakenings," explains neurologist and Verywell.com sleep expert, Brandon R. Peters. "This undermines sleep quality, and may make it more likely to experience sleep that isn't refreshing and daytime sleepiness."
One solution is wearing a pair of noise-cancelling headphones (experts prefer earbuds) to help reduce distracting environmental sounds like sirens, noisy neighbors, or even the chorus of nature like crickets and birds. In theory, noise cancelling headphones work by sampling sound and then generating the exact opposite waveform, cancelling out the original, according to Julian Treasure, the chairman of The Sound Agency and a five-time TED Talk speaker on sound.
"They can only do this with relatively constant sound, like aircraft cabin noise or constant traffic," explains Treasure. "The best ones out there will do this in an almost magical way, making those sounds disappear completely. Really effective noise cancelling headphones are over-ear models, because that means they can isolate your ears from the original sound and contain the complex electronics to listen and invert the external sound." The catch? You wouldn't be able to sleep in them.
As an alternative, use headphones during long-haul flights and earbuds at night. Peters recommends shoppers look for a pair that fits well without discomfort and "consider the cost and battery life when choosing a model." To help, we rounded up seven of the best noise cancelling headphones and earbuds on the market so you can get a well-earned night of rest...without interruption.
These tiny-but-mighty ear pods—with a 20 hour battery life—cancel out low frequency noises, which normal earplugs aren't able to block. Consider these the perfect antidote to a significant other who snores. Bonus: they're light and comfortable.
QuietOn Noise Cancelling Earplugs, $158 (available for pre-order), quieton.com.
These lightweight, wireless headphones allow you to set your own levels of noise cancellation so you can listen to music—or simply block out the world. Thanks to a lightweight neckband, you can also comfortably wear the headphones all day.
Bose "QuietControl 30" Wireless Headphones, $299, amazon.com.
Escape from the world around you with these portable sport earbuds that toggle between ambient sound and noise cancellation mode. They're perfect for when you hit the gym but then want to wind down after. Plus, the comfortable silicone rubber ear tips make them a joy to wear.
Sony WF-SP700N, $179, amazon.com.
Bang & Olufsen
Don't let the higher price tag scare you—these cord-free earbuds won't budge and have up to 12 hours of playtime. Plus, the sleek leather case also serves as a charger and offers up to three full charges one the go.
Bang & Olufsen "BeoPlay E8 2.0" True Wireless Earphones, $284, amazon.com.
Dubbed as "headphones in a headband," this innovative cordless design easily streams audio wirelessly, reduces ambient noise, and won't cramp your style during bedtime.
SleepPhones Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, $99.95, sleepphones.com.
Unlike the others on the list, these earbuds don't stream music, instead they are preloaded with soothing sounds that cover up unwanted noise, helping you fall asleep faster.
Bose Noise-Masking Sleepbuds, $249.95, amazon.com.
Perfect for sleeping on your side, these silicone earbuds fit snugly in your ear canal without discomfort. Plus, these ultra-soft ErgoFit earbuds won't slide out in the middle of the night—or during your run.
MaxRock Sleeping Headphones, $11.99, amazon.com.
The name says it all. These Bedphones have an incredibly flat, on-ear design so you'll barely notice them. Plus, they allow you to fall asleep to your favorite podcast, ambient sounds, or just comfortably watch movies in bed.
Dublabs "Bedphones," $149.95, dubslabs.com.
This soft fleece headband is pre-loaded with 17 sleep sounds (think, white noise, sounds of nature, and meditation-like beats) easily managed by six timer options. Plus, with a 20-hour rechargeable battery—and removable speakers—makes it is a great travel option.
Sharper Image "Wireless Sound Soother Headband," $99.99, sharperimage.com.
For those who run hot, Cozyphones's new sleep headphones are made with a breathable mesh lining to keep you cool at night. And if you still can't fall asleep at night, the brand offers a 100 percent money back guarantee.
CozyPhones Sleep Headphones Contour Series with Cool Mesh Lining, $17.97, amazon.com.