In a perfect world, we would all fall asleep listening to the gentle lapping of waves against the shore, a softly crackling open fire, or Tom Hanks singing us a lullaby.
But sadly, the world isn’t perfect and the reality is that at bedtime most of us have the dulcet tones of roommates clattering around, a snoring bedfellow, neighbors blaring their TVs — maybe dogs barking, traffic roaring, or curbside conversations keeping us up.
Even those who live in more rural areas can find themselves contending with tinnitus or a partner snoring in the night.
Sleep quality is fundamental to our wellbeing, and it’s not surprising that as hearable technology advances, many headphones and earbuds aiming to improve our sleep quality have flooded the market.
Today, we’re going to look at the best noise-canceling headphones, designed specifically to be worn in bed, on the sofa, while traveling, or even in the break room at work to help you get the revitalizing shut-eye you deserve.
The award for best noise canceling sleep earbuds goes to...
We reviewed dozens of products in preparation for this guide and put the best ones to a sleep test. Our overall recommendation is QuietOn 3.1. QuietOn is the smallest pair of noise canceling earbuds we found and we love their simplicity and effectiveness.
Some of the other products on this guide offer features like streaming and sleep tracking but QuietOn 3.1 does the one thing incredibly well - noise cancelation. You can read our full review of QuietOn 3.1 here.
Note: QuietOn is $50 off for Black Friday right now at this link
Qualities to look out for in a pair of sleep headphones
Side sleeper, back sleeper, writhing around like a starfish: whatever your sleep style, comfort is priority #1. The most common sleep headphone style is wireless in-ear buds, but you’ll also find wired versions, over-the-ear tin-can style, and even headbands with built-in speakers.
some noise-canceling earbuds double up as headphones to listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks. This might mean you get more bang for your buck
Many sleep headphones are packed full of smart tech, meaning they can be a fairly steep investment. While substantially cheaper options are available, paying around the $250 mark is not abnormal. Think about what tech features are best for you and what fits your budget.
Let’s dig into the best options on the market.
1. QuietOn 3.1— Purchase for $289
QuietOn is $50 off for Black Friday right now at this link
Headquartered in Finland, QuietOn’s mission is to make “Nordic Quietude accessible to everyone at all times.” Company founders Janne and Matti are ex-Nokia employees whose idea for an active noise-canceling earbud was launched on Indiegogo in 2015. Since then, they have found three versions of their award-winning sleep headphones and raised millions from crowdfunding.
QuietOn 3.1 comes with a 28-hour battery life, a one-year warranty, and a 14-day money-back guarantee. They are the smallest active noise canceling (ANC) devices on the market and boast an ergonomic shape designed not to get in the way of your comfort, even if you sleep on your side.
It’s important to note that the QuietOn 3.1 does not have playback capabilities and, unlike some of the entries on this list, cannot double up as headphones during the day.
Comfort: The most comfortable ANC sleep earbuds on the market.
Functionality: No streaming, only focused on noise cancelation and size.
Price: $289 (10% discount with code SleepSoundly)
- Compact, comfortable design
- Impressive battery life
- On the expensive side
- Can’t be used as regular headphones
2. Kokoon Nightbuds — Purchase for $289.99
Kokoon is known for its smart tech Relax Headphones — comfortable over-ear headphones that offer active noise cancelation, white noise, and noise isolation to improve sleep — Kokoon also has an earbud option called Nightbuds. Kokoon Nightbuds are advertised as the world's thinnest earbuds, promising barely-there comfort while you sleep. We've reviewed the earbud version of this product and find it surprisingly comfortable and easy to use.
Kokoon's over-ear headphones offer ANC while their earbud counterpart uses passive noise canceling technology and "intelligent noise masking," which Kokoon says outperforms even the best ANC headphones on the market.
The over-ear and in-ear versions have special sensors that monitor and analyze your heart rate and sleep activity, connecting to the MyKokoon app, which offers useful feedback and tips for a better night's sleep.
Both options allow you to play relaxing sounds from the app and stream your audio from Spotify, Audible, and more.
Comfort: Both styles are more comfortable than traditional headphones but larger than QuietOn
Functionality: Includes streaming, health, and sleep tracking; over-ear model comes with ANC.
- Double as regular headphones
- Specialized app for soundscapes and sleep tracking
- Sleek, comfortable design
- On the expensive side
- Battery life is adequate but not extraordinary
3. SleepPhones - Purchase for $99.95
SleepPhones by AcousticSheep are a product designed specifically for comfortable audio playback during sleep. The unique headband style uses soft fabric (either fleecy or breathable, depending on whether you sleep hot or cold), and has two slimline speakers built in to fit snugly over your ears.
The speakers are removable, so you can easily take them out and wash the headband as often as needed. The materials and production processes are also eco-friendly and lead-free.
While they aren’t as expensive as most of the options listed here, their noise canceling abilities are limited. The headband simply sits over your ears, and doesn’t create a seal like in-ear headphones or over-the-ear style ones.
The main draw here is that they allow you to comfortably play music, meditation tracks or other audio of your choice to mask the sounds that bother you at night.
Comfort: Specifically designed for side-sleeping comfort
Functionality: Stream music, audiobooks or white noise via Bluetooth, no ANC
Price: $99.95 (use code SOUNDLY for 10% off orders over $99)
- Soft, comfortable design for sleep
- Good for those who dislike earbuds
- Less expensive than most
- You can use them as regular headphones
- No ANC technology, only noise masking
- Wired option is cheaper, but risks getting tangled while you sleep
4. SoundCore Sleep A10 - Purchase for $119
SoundCore is a lesser-known name in the audio game that consistently punches above its weight. Soundcore makes this list for their sleep-specific product - Sleep A10. The Sleep A10 checks many boxes, including active noise cancelation, app controls, Bluetooth music streaming, and a slimmed-down design for side-sleepers and sleep tracking. SoundCore’s battery life gives 6 hours in music mode and 10 hours in sleep mode. Another consideration, we found some issues with intermittent Bluetooth connection. But overall, we like the feature-rich product with a clear sleep-related design.
Comfort: Slim design meant for side-sleepers, larger than QuietOn
Functionality: Stream from the app, track sleep data, strong ANC
Price: $119 (sometimes on sale)
- All the features at a lower price
- Powerful ANC
- Sleep-focused product design
- Some Bluetooth issues
- Shorter battery life
5. AirPods Pro Noise-Canceling Headphones
If you are an iPhone user, there’s a chance you already have a pair of AirPods Pro in your home (note that standard AirPods do not come with noise cancelation). Apple is largely responsible for kickstarting the true-wireless earbud movement with their original AirPods in 2016.
Today their product is fantastic for Apple users in just about every. The noise cancelation features in AirPods Pro are powerful, and while the form factor is larger (important for side sleepers) than QuietOn, AirPods are not a shabby option.
One important note is that AirPods pro only offer 5-6 hours of ANC per battery charge so you'll likely lose power during a full night of sleep. Still, the devices can work for difficult early-night sleep sessions.
Comfort: Larger than sleep-focused products
Functionality: Top-of-the-line earbuds with ANC, streaming and customization
- Excellent overall technology (day and night use)
- Works seamlessly with most sleep apps and music apps
- Offers ANC and masking options (if you use an app)
- Larger than the smallest options like QuietOn
- Does not work well for non-iPhone users
- Battery life is too short for a full night of use
Bonus Option: Loop - Purchase for $20
Loop does not make sleep headphones - they make earplugs. Still, they offer a great option for nightime noise management. If you are looking for a budget-friendly alternative to tech-heavy noise canceling sleep headphones loop might be worth a try.
Loop offers a range of protection from Loop Quiet, which reduces noise by 25 - 27 decibels, and their Experience and Experience Pro, which offers background noise reduction while keeping speech and other sounds clear.
Their Quiet model is recommended for sleep, and all models can be washed and reused infinitely. Loop has a lifetime guarantee, and the company will replace any broken or worn-out parts free of charge.
Comfort: Small and pliable, great for side-sleepers
Functionality: No digital tech
Price: $20 per pair
- Lifetime warranty
- Low cost
- Don’t need recharging
- Simpler design with no active noise canceling technology
- Can’t be used as headphones for music
Finding the perfect pair of sleep headphones is no small feat. Most products come with at least some tradeoffs in size or functionality. Our research and reviews give you a good place to start. You might also enjoy our guide to earplugs for sleep.
If you have questions or comments, feel free to send us a note at [email protected].