Is Sleeping With AirPods Bad? 8 Risks to Consider

People have been sleeping with headphones on basically ever since headphones were invented. Remember back in the good ol’ days when you’d pop your Enya CD into your Discman, plug in your dollar store headphones, and fall asleep after a night of cramming for senior-year finals? No? Huh, well, I sure did. But perhaps I shouldn’t have done so. Heck, had I known some of the risks associated with wearing any sort of headphones to bed, I probably would’ve abstained.

You see, falling asleep with your super cool Airpods Pro in your ears isn’t as safe or healthy as it might seem. If you do it once or twice, it probably isn’t a big deal. What I am talking about here is repetitive use during sleep. The more you fall asleep with your earbuds in your ears, the riskier things become.

Listening to your earbuds while you sleep has seven known risks. From accidentally choking on an earbud to necrosis, sleeping with your Airpods Pro in carries some associated risks that, after reading this article, you might not want to take.

Can You Sleep With Airpods Pro 7 Risks to Consider Is Sleeping With AirPods Bad? 8 Risks to Consider

Is it bad to sleep with AirPods in

While sleeping with your AirPods or AirPods Pro in your ears once or twice is safe, doing it every night has a variety of risks. You could swallow or choke on them, get earwax buildup, develop an ear infection, experience hearing loss, damage your AirPods Pro, experience necrosis, or develop sleep deprivation. Long-term nocturnal use – especially at higher volumes – is not recommended.

While Airpods Pro might be comfortable enough to sleep in, the risks outweigh the benefits. What might happen though? 

And why should you stop sleeping with your earbuds in? Allow me to explain the seven known risk factors that are involved in sleeping with earbuds in your ears.

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Is It OK to Wear AirPods Pro While Sleeping?

There are advantages and disadvantages to wearing your AirPods Pro while sleeping. The results will depend on your style and sleeping habits, how you feel using AirPods, and how you utilize them.

You may find that there are more drawbacks than benefits. However, most of the downsides have simple solutions that will allow you to sleep comfortably with AirPods in.

It’s possible that falling asleep with headphones made of hard plastic in your ears won’t be painful right now, but it could become uncomfortable in the future. Additionally, in-ear earbuds can trap moisture in the ear canal, especially if you go to bed immediately after a shower.

This can lead to the growth of bacteria and external ear infections over time. If you use your in-ear earphones for an extended period, you may accumulate a buildup of earwax.

Can You Sleep With Airpods Pro 7 Risks to Consider 1 Is Sleeping With AirPods Bad? 8 Risks to Consider

Risk #1: Swallowing or Choking On the Airpods Pro

Airpods Pro are small and might fall out of your ears while you sleep, especially if, like me, you are someone who moves around a lot during the night. 

While these wireless devices don’t have wires that will tangle around your neck, there is a small risk of swallowing or choking on the Airpods Pro. Luckily, it seems as though the Airpods Pro are so small that they will actually pass through your digestive system if you swallow one. That is what one Taiwanese man found out in 2019 after accidentally swallowing one in his sleep.

Risk #2: Earwax Buildup

Earwax buildup is a much more likely risk factor of sleeping with your earbuds in your ears. Inflammation and allergic reactions can result from earwax buildup, which comes from long-term use.

You will need to regularly clean your Airpods Pro to reduce the risk that this will happen to you. It is just a good idea in general to clean your earbuds since it also helps prolong their lifespan.

Risk #3: Ear Infections

The more you allow earwax to build up with prolonged use of your Airpods Pro (especially without cleaning them), the more likely it is that you will develop ear infections. 

Ear infections are incredibly painful and often require antibiotics to resolve. Our ears are naturally able to clean themselves.

When you pop your earbuds into them for long periods of time, your ears aren’t able to properly do their job of cleaning themselves out. All kinds of dirt, debris, dead skin, and – worst of all – bacteria are prevented from expulsion and become trapped within the ear. 

This gives them free passage throughout your ears.

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Risk #4: Hearing Loss

If you’re sleeping with your Airpods Pro in your ears for 6-8 hours per day, you’re putting yourself at risk for hearing loss. That is further compounded if you’re spending another 8-ish hours per day with them in your ears for work. 

You should not be spending the majority of a 24-hour period with them in your ears. If you are, hearing loss is a real possibility. 

With the maximum volume on most devices being 105-110 decibels (dB), there is a good chance that you could do some real damage. In fact, if you play something at 105-110 dB that close to your ear for even just five minutes, you are seriously risking hearing loss. 

Not to sound too much like your mom, but keep that volume turned down, for goodness sake! Experts say that keeping your volume at 60% is as high as you should go.

Risk #5: Damage to the Airpods Pro

Think about how much you paid for your Airpods Pro. Now, think about how much you’ll have to pay if one of them gets damaged. 

It is entirely possible that this could happen while you sleep. Is this something you can really afford to risk? Even just rolling over onto your side and having an earbud press into your ear can feel uncomfortable. 

Who knows how uncomfortable it would be to have one break inside of your ear.

Risk #6: Necrosis

For those who’ve never heard this term before, necrosis is the dying off of skin cells in an organ due to disease or injury. Given how much concentrated and sustained pressure prolonged earbud wearing creates, necrosis could happen. 

This type of long-term use can cause your ears to become sore, and earbuds that put pressure on and rub on the skin inside of the ears will cause those skin cells to die way too quickly.

And new skin cells won’t be able to generate and promote healing.

Risk #7: Sleep Deprivation

Finally, we come to one of the most pronounced issues associated with wearing earbuds while you sleep – sleep loss. And it can progress to the point of sleep deprivation. With the constant auditory stimulation to the brain, you might fail to fall into REM sleep. 

This disrupts your natural sleep pattern. You won’t be as alert to nighttime noises that would otherwise cause concern (like someone opening your front door or even your baby crying a few rooms down the hall), but you sure will be alert enough to the music coming through your earbuds. 

What is meant to help you sleep might do just the opposite.

Risk #8: Otitis Externa

Otitis externa, or “outer ear infection,” is a bacterial condition that is relatively prevalent among swimmers and affects the ear canal; earphone users have also been reported with this condition.

Not only is it exceedingly unpleasant, with symptoms such as pain, hearing problems, and a sense of fullness (or fat/puffiness) in the ear, but allowing it to worsen could lead to long-term complications. Clean your AirPods regularly to avoid this problem.

Does Sleeping With AirPods Pro Damage Your Ears?

Various short- and long-term dangers are associated with sleeping with AirPods in, including the possibility of ear infections, wax buildup, discomfort, loss of hearing, sleep disorders, and losing or ingesting the earbuds. However, the risk of developing cancer from AirPods is extremely low.

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Why Wear AirPods Pro While sleeping?

The following are some reasons why you might sleep with earphones in:

Noise Cancellation

AirPods Pro can be used as earplugs to block out ambient sounds. If you live on a busy street or in an area with lively nightlife, AirPods may be the perfect solution.

Having a snoring sleep companion is yet another possible reason you might want to filter out external sounds.

By listening to music or using a white noise app, it’s possible to filter out loud and irritating sounds such as traffic, construction, neighbors playing loud music, or a noisy companion. You can do this with your AirPods Pro (check out our review).


If you’re looking for a good night’s rest, you can listen to some soothing music. Some people find white noise very beneficial.

White noise is the sound heard when a television signal is lost. It’s the sum of all sound frequencies. It’s also used to assist children in falling asleep more quickly.

Boosts Happy Brain Chemicals

Music is a beautiful strategy to increase dopamine release and encourage serotonin production. Both of these neurotransmitters are related to happiness and relaxation.

With AirPods in your ears and soothing music playing, your body’s natural chemicals are activated, making it easier than ever to fall asleep.

Easier to Sleep

You may find that listening to music in the background while you sleep might make you relax and clear your mind. It can result in a more comfortable night’s sleep and a more aware morning.

Listening to music could make you feel better if you went to bed in a poor mood. That’s why many people habitually sleep with their AirPods in.

How Do You Keep Your AirPods Pro in While Sleeping?

A young woman takes notes in her diary and communicates via a wireless headset

When you sleep with your AirPods Pro in, they tend to fall out of your ear canals.

Does this indicate that you must return your AirPods? Well, that depends on you. But don’t quit just yet.

A few do-it-yourself techniques and various add-on gadgets can help keep your AirPods in your ears. Let’s investigate them.

Switch to Memory Foam Tips

As Apple designed the silicone tips for the AirPods Pro to enhance overall fit, they ended up re-creating the same issues that AirPod users had. Try a different type of ear tip produced from a separate substance as a solution.

Memory foam is a great option to try after silicone tips. Memory foam effortlessly conforms to the curvature of the ear canal, resulting in a superior seal.

A growing number of users have switched to memory foam ear tips, and one of the most recommended is COMPLY T-500 Memory Foam (on Amazon).

Use Waterproof Tape

If your Airpods Pro come loose while you’re working out, you can fix them yourself with waterproof tape because it has a strong stickiness and a long lifespan; the Nexcare Absolute Waterproof Tape (on Amazon) is often recommended.

If you want to cut out circular pieces of tape, you’ll need a regular hole punch, and if you’re going to cut out rectangular strips of tape, you’ll need scissors. Apply a strip of tape to the top of each earbud and a second piece to the bottom, near where the AirPods will be placed.

Put the AirPods in your ears and then go for a stroll, engage in some exercise, or jog to get your blood pumping. Due to the raised surface of the tape, the AirPods should always remain in the ear. 

Use Ear Hooks

Apple AirPods-specific covers with ear hooks can be put on your AirPods Pro, making them comfortable and safe to use. Ensure that the hooks’ cover speaker holes align with your AirPods’.

Insert the AirPods and put the hooks over your ears to secure them and prevent them from falling out.

You can get AirPods ear hooks that last a long time and work perfectly with your headphones, such as elago Ear Hooks (on Amazon). Using these ear hooks while you’re sleeping with AirPods Pro can be a good idea to keep them from falling out.

    Closing Thoughts

    Sleeping with your Airpods Pro in might seem like a good idea at first. 

    But, truth be told, there are a lot of underlying risks associated with long-term earbud wearing, especially when it is done at night. 

    If you need music to help you sleep, consider getting the Apple HomePod and placing that in your room.

    It will reduce the risks listed above while still providing you with music played from a quality speaker.

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