Washington Post: Some people have started wearing headphones to bed, which raises questions about safety, comfort and sleep quality.
Although the effect of sleeping in headphones has not been well-studied, said Phyllis Zee, chief of sleep medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, she and other experts believe it is generally safe. Here are their recommendations for addressing your relaxation needs while protecting your hearing and your quality of sleep.
“Although the headphones may seem like they’re all targeting everybody the same, people falling asleep really have different issues, usually, that they’re trying to address,” said Steven Holfinger, a sleep medicine specialist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.
Headphones marketed for sleep come in a variety of styles, and they can range in price from less than $20 to more than $200. Some companies also are promoting models that have more advanced technological features designed to change or shut off sound when they sense you’re in different stages of sleep, said Zee, who served as a consultant for Philips, which sells a high-tech sleep headband. But in the absence of large-scale studies assessing different styles and technology, Zee and other experts say, users should prioritize comfort.
“Provided that the intensity levels [of sound] are similar, there probably isn’t a clear ‘safest’ choice for headphones,” Ashley King, an audiologist at George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates, wrote in an email. “The best style is probably the one that is most comfortable for you.”