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Fall asleep better with sleep headphones

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  • What are sleep headphones?
  • What are the benefits of sleep headphones?
  • Who are sleep headphones suitable for?
  • Can sleep headphones also be harmful?

There are many causes for problems falling asleep: snoring noises from the next bed or cars driving past the bedroom window, for example. Often it's our fault: many people simply can't switch off their carousal of thoughts at the end of the day and lie awake brooding instead of falling asleep quickly and relaxed. Sleep headphones promise to dampen ambient noise and play soothing music so that sleep saboteurs are outsmarted.

We will clarify how the models differ and what you should pay attention to together with Christine Lenz, an expert in sleep health and medicine.

What are sleep headphones?

The selection is large and conceptually not clearly defined. And of course you can also use your normal in-ear headphones to fall asleep. But at the latest when you turn on your side, they will cause pain in the auricle after a short time. Sleep headphones promise that side sleepers will not be irritated by the speakers.

These special sleep headphones designs can be distinguished:

  1. Sleepbuds: These are in-ear headphones that dampen ambient noise and are made of particularly soft materials, which are primarily intended to block noise and ambient noise, but through which you can also listen to relaxation music and certain relaxation frequencies.
  2. Sleep Headbands: These wide, soft headbands have (usually) wireless headphones built into them, with which you can play relaxing music or sleep apps via Bluetooth to put you in sleep mode. Most of them can be used as light protection for the eyes, or worn on the go as an alternative to normal headphones when pushed up into a headband.

What are the benefits of sleep headphones?

Sleep headphones offer a whole range of sleep-promoting properties:

  • Relaxing music in bed: Thanks to the shapes and materials adapted to the sleeping position, they make it possible to listen to relaxing music, sounds, perhaps better frequencies or apps in bed and when falling asleep, without painfully pressing on the auricle. Anyone who has ever fallen asleep with their 'normal' in-ear or over-ear headphones has already experienced this painfully as soon as they rolled onto their side. In-ear sleep headphones are therefore made of soft material that is designed to be worn for a long time, and in the headbands the speakers are integrated into a soft material, such as fleece.

    And studies have shown that music, nature sounds and certain symphonies help you fall asleep. “Relaxing sound frequencies can de-stress, reduce anxiety and slow down the breathing rate,” confirms sleep coach Christine Lenz, “However, you should pay attention to personal preferences. Anyone who was tortured with piano lessons as a child will find it difficult to relax with piano music.”

  • Noise reduction: Sleepbuds also dampen noise from the surroundings and ensure peace and quiet from outside noise and the snoring and smacking noises of the person sitting next to you in bed.
    Important to know: In contrast to in-ear gadgets, speakers integrated into headbands can also be heard by the person sitting next to you in bed on some models – this should be agreed upon with your partner in advance.
  • Light protection: The headbands also allow you to pull them over your eyes so you have headphones and a sleep mask in one. Christine Lenz: “In the dark, the release of the sleep hormone melatonin increases in the body, which has been proven to shorten the time it takes to fall asleep.” However, if your problems falling asleep are mainly caused by brightness, you should first try sleeping masks without speakers, for example made of silk; they are more comfortable and light on the skin.

Examples of different sleep headphones:

  • The Bluetooth sleep earbuds Sleep A10 from Soundcore by Anker do not have an active noise canceling function (ANC, active noise cancellation), but the buds made of soft artificial leather protect the ear quite well against environmental noise. Sleep sounds can be activated via app, which offers numerous soothing sounds, sleep-inducing sounds and white noise to help you fall asleep faster. Alternatively, you can also stream your own music. An in-ear alarm clock only wakes you up and not your bedmates, and feedback on sleep duration and quality is also provided.
  • The ultra-small silicone sleepbuds from Omidyi also work via Bluetooth 5.0. They are paired with your smartphone and can play your own music; you have to find soothing noises etc. yourself; there is no separate app included. Ambient noise is not filtered out, but is shielded by the good fit.
  • There are also models that work with a cable instead of Bluetooth, for example the model from Agpetek: The silicone earphones have an active noise cancellation function, but you can also make phone calls, play music and adjust the volume using a control module on the thin, 1.2 m long cable choose and control. An additional plug made the earplugs compatible with most MP3 players, smartphones, etc.
  • The sleep headband from the LC-dolida store works via Bluetooth and can (with a little practice) be switched on and off via a display at forehead level. You can skip to the next song and turn it down or up. The band, which can also be pulled over the eyes as a sleep mask, is made of breathable, thin mesh material and can also be used during sports. Plus point: If you remove the module, the headband can be washed. The ultra-thin speakers (0.25 inches) can be adjusted manually and should not press, even for side sleepers. This type of sleep headphones are also available with small nuances from other providers, for example from Boodlap made of memory foam.
  • The wireless sleep eye mask with integrated speakers from Eurobuy places greater emphasis on darkening the eyes. It is not an all-round headband, but a slightly wider sleep mask for the eyes made of washable velvet. There is an adjustable, elastic rubber band at the back of the head. The control module for the music transmitted via Bluetooth is located on the side of the head.

Who are sleep headphones suitable for?

Sleep expert Christine Lenz defines three occasions in which sleep headphones can be of good use:

  • For power napping: If you need a short break during the day and take the time to do so, sleep headphones are a great way to unwind from everyday life. Relaxing music ensures that you fall asleep quickly, and you program your cell phone so that you wake up in time. Or you can set up a guided meditation, which also helps you quickly recharge your batteries. Tip: If you choose a model with a headband, you are better protected from visual stimuli. If there is a lot of background noise, in-ear products that reduce background noise prove to be helpful, such as the Mini Wireless In-Ear Noise Canceling Headphones from Xmenha.
  • To travel: Whether on the train, on the plane or in the hotel, with something relaxing on your ear you can recharge your batteries, dampen unfamiliar noises and fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Before exams: Falling asleep is often particularly difficult during exam periods and other exceptional situations. Then sleep headphones can be of good use to stop your thoughts, lower your blood pressure and relax your mind. What you have learned also becomes easier to recall after a restful night.

Can sleep headphones also be harmful?

There are several side effects of using sleep headphones that you should consider:

1. Cellular rays: In order to receive music, relaxing sleep stories or sounds via Bluetooth, your cell phone must be switched on and close to you.

Whether hand radiation is actually harmful to health and can cause diseases such as cancer is a big topic and will only be mentioned briefly here: In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phone radiation as 'potentially carcinogenic', but this assessment was not based on this of everyday studies.

To date, more than 1,500 studies have examined the connection between cell phone use and cancer. However, the majority have not diagnosed a clear correlation between cancer (e.g. brain tumors) and cell phone use, according to an overview report by the Internet information platform EMF-Portal at the University of Aachen.

“If, in exceptional situations, you keep the sleep headphones on for a while overnight, that's definitely not a problem,” says Christine Lenz, “But since it's still not completely clear how cell phone radiation affects the body in the long term, “I wouldn't recommend using sleep headphones every night until morning.”

2. Earwax Plugs: Ears are self-cleaning organs. If you wear Sleepbuds every night, your earwax cannot drain naturally and is forced into the ear canal. You should also clean the tools meticulously every day. “Grease, skin cells and dust particles quickly get caught in the soft material,” explains Christine Lenz. “This can create breeding grounds for inflammation.”

Like all items of clothing, you should also be able to wash the headbands of sleep headphones before wearing them for the first time and regularly afterwards. This means that the speakers should not be sewn into the fabric, but rather be removable. Otherwise there is a risk of pimples and skin irritation. In general, even the softest fleece can dry out the skin on your face over time.

3. Hearing damage: Anyone who exposes their hearing to sound pressure levels of 80 to 85 decibels for 40 hours a week must expect hearing loss and ringing in the ears (tinnitus), warns the professional association of ear, nose and throat doctors. If you listen to music a lot and loudly through in-ear headphones during the day, you'll quickly rack up the 40 hours. Therefore, make sure that you only listen to quiet music via the sleep gadgets. Best of all, they have a noise-cancelling function, so you don't have to turn up the volume if your partner snores or ambient noise prevents you from falling asleep.

Sleep headphones have the potential to help you fall asleep with noise cancellation and relaxing input. Maintain proper hygiene and make sure you choose a model that is tailored to your needs. Then you will be able to fall asleep even under difficult conditions.

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