Negative effects of sleeping with headphones

Headphones have become a commonly used item in our society, transporting users to musical, literary and cinematic worlds through sound. However, when used excessively, headphones may do more harm than good.

According to Statista, the number of headphones sold worldwide increased from 236 million in 2013 to an estimated 334 million in 2016. Using headphones for multiple hours can put those who do so at risk for ear/hearing-related health risks, one of which is hearing loss.

“Most of my day I have my headphones on,” junior Braddley Abelard said. “I like having them at maximum volume because it helps me immerse myself into the music.”

According to Medical News Today, a 2021 study showed that “approximately 1.7 percent of people worldwide experience noise-induced hearing loss. The study reported individuals who use headphones in an already noisy environment are at a 4.5-fold higher risk of hearing loss.”

The volume and length of time the music is heard through headphones is what may cause hearing loss: the longer and louder you hear audio, the more risks you face.

According to the Oklahoma Hearing Center, louder noises might cause hearing damage quicker than quieter ones, but over time the damage is still done. 

Another possible consequence of sleeping with headphones (and thus having them on for a long time), is built up earwax. 

According to AudioInstru, “When wearing headphones, your ears are shut from air circulation, which can cause them to produce more wax than normal. This excess accumulation of wax in your ear(s) can lead to symptoms such as itching or hearing loss.” The concentrated earwax could be hard to remove once it gets to a reasonable size.

 In addition, the type of headphones you use may worsen ear wax problems. According to AudioMav, when using the headphones that go over your ears, there are less chances of wax buildup solely by using them alone. On the other hand, earbuds go into your ear canal, which can be a direct cause for your earwax buildup.

Though perhaps an enjoyable or calming habit for those who do it, wearing headphones to sleep should not be considered such. If it is the only way one is lulled to sleep, there are certainly other alternatives; it is better to be safe than sorry if risking hearing loss because of wearing headphones for a lengthy amount of time.