Can Sleeping With Headphones on Kill You? 

Okay, reader, this may be a bizarre question but hey! I would like to know. Through the world of music streaming and listening, it is important to be knowledgeable about the health effects surrounding these musical implications. I will tell you now, there no better feeling than falling asleep to that album you love so dearly, or that podcast that melts you into a relaxed slumber. But I don’t want to die in my sleep because of obsessive addiction to epic music! Don’t worry reader, through my rigorous research, the answer that has been concluded may shock you!

It’s about that time of day. As the strenuous fight of day simmers down to a quiet calm storm of relaxation and quiet relief, one may linger into a hazy trance of tiredness. It is time to rest your body’s mind and eyes as it prepares for the legendary day that waits further upon you. As you nestle tucked in your bed, sipping the last of your sleepy time tea, you may slip into the spell of sleep without the unknowing of the musical time machine that rests on your delicate ears.

The thought flashes to you in a second of questioning. We’ve already discussed if music is bad for you? The second question is should I leave my headphones in? I mean to be fair, the music or podcast you were relaxing to do indeed get you into this state of tiredness. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to let it play a little longer. Though this process has been known to cause many mistakes in the past, present, and probably future. However, what is so harmful in sleeping with headphones on?

“I know this one friend who had a friend who died because of listening to headphones while sleeping” my roommate told me in puzzled astonishment. I sat there as my roommate began telling me of this mysterious occurrence. So, can this notion be truth or fiction? How unsafe is using headphones?


History of your Headphones

Military man wearing a radio set
Military man wearing a radio set

Originally deriving from the earpieces of the telephone receiver, the headphones were in fact the only way you could listen to audio signals of electrical nature before the creation of amplifiers. In technical terms, the early headphones used the earliest type of electric loudspeaker, the moving iron drivers. This implication either obtained balanced or single-ended armatures. Through the coils, sound currents variously affected the magnetic field in terms of the magnet, thus creating vibrations concluding sound waves. The early headphones did not have the padding we see today, which caused extreme discomfort if worn for long periods of time.

With headphones correlation to radio, headphones were part of the device (vacuum tube) that controlled electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes. According to, the plate circuits were known to carry dangerously high voltages. At the time, headphones were used truly only for the Army, telephone and radio operators, and smaller industries. However, in 1958 jazz musician John C. Kiss produced the first stereo headphones. First developed for hearing aids (used for the hearing impaired) smaller earbuds developed for other use and widely used with transistor radios, appearing in 1954 with the most popular audio device in history, the Regency TR-1. We then have seen the headphone expand to a multitude of uses. The 3.5 mm radio and phone connector, commonly used in phones such as the one you have, are used in portable applications since 1964. The 1979 portable tape player, Walkman also gave headphones a persistent platform for headphone global social domination.


Headphones are bad for your health

Man napping on sofa with music
Man napping on sofa with music

Headphone usage and its health concerns have been a question since 1937. Of course, as many in modern society understand, headphones are pretty comfortable. I find the relaxation of just having my headphones on because it cancels out the outer noises all around me. However, there are some reasons to consider surrounding sleeping with headphones on. The age-old concern is that it can damage your hearing. This notion is very apparent especially to music listeners like myself. Sleeping with headphones can cause a buildup of earwax which blocks air circulation around and inside your ears. The buildup of earwax can cause many future health concerns.

One can also suffer from “Otitis Externa”. According to, Otitis Externa is a condition that causes swelling and redness (inflammation) of the external ear canal, the tube between the out ear and eardrum. Commonly seen in swimmers, this notion as well can be caused by the headphones rubbing against the inside of the ear, resulting in fluid build-up. Headphones can impair you from safety hazards and important sounds such as fire alarms, baby crying, robberies, etc. The death of cells in the living tissue caused by infection, toxins, etc. called Necrosis can also happen when sleeping with headphones. In terms of death, cords attached to the headphones could strangle you in your sleep. If you are a heavy mover in your sleep like me, the cord could unknowingly wrap around your neck which could cause fatal reactions.

The negative side effects of headphone usage while sleeping seems to be a scary notion. In conclusion, there are definitely health risks for sleeping with headphones. I believe on the big scale of things; the headphones itself are the cause of death in SOME cases. Perhaps, for example, my roommate’s friend had other complications such as an electric shock episode which caused a ripple effect of bad happenings. However, music sleepers do not worry. Because of the many health issues surrounding the headphone night sleepers, companies such as “Voreou” developed a headphone specifically designed for sleeping usage. Equipped with Bluetooth technology paired with a loose-fitting style, the safety quality is truly impressive. Other alternatives can be to connect the music or podcast on a stereo, to avoid any headphone complications. Music listeners, it’s important to stay healthy and well educated around the health issues and benefits surround music listening. While there are obvious therapeutic benefits, there are side effects too. If there are any problems you can occur in these such musical fields, consult your doctor for information surrounding ear health and safety.

Photos: Shutterstock

On that note, we also have articles that explore the fascinating world behind music immersion with headphones. Check them out:

Tech Startup: Meet First Headphones That Pulse to the Music and Your Heart

Adapt Your Mindset By Using Headphones Only


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