Side Effects of Headphones on Brain: What You Need to Know

Headphones are a common accessory for many people who enjoy listening to music, podcasts, audiobooks, or other audio content. They can help you relax, focus, or escape from the noise around you. However, they can also have some negative side effects of headphones on brain if you use them too often or too loudly.

In this article, I will explore some of the potential side effects of headphones on brain health and function, and how you can prevent or minimize them.

Headaches and Migraines

One of the most common side effects of headphones on brain is headaches and migraines. This can happen for several reasons, such as:

Side Effects of Headphones on Brain
  • The electromagnetic waves emitted from headphones and earphones have a bad effect on the brain, causing throbbing headaches and migraines.
  • The high volume or bass of the audio can cause pressure or vibration in the ear canal, which can trigger nerve endings and blood vessels in the brain and cause pain.
  • The prolonged use of headphones can cause muscle tension in the neck, shoulders, and jaw, which can also lead to headaches and migraines.

To avoid or reduce headaches and migraines from headphones, you can:

  • Use Bluetooth headphones instead of wired ones, as they produce less electromagnetic radiation.
  • Keep the volume at a moderate level, preferably below 60% of the maximum volume.
  • Limit your headphone use to no more than an hour at a time, and take breaks in between.
  • Choose headphones that fit well and are comfortable for your ears.
  • Stretch your neck, shoulders, and jaw muscles regularly to relieve tension.

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Another common side effect of headphones on brain is hearing loss and tinnitus. This can happen for several reasons, such as:

  • The loud noise from the headphones can damage the hair cells in the inner ear that transmit sound signals to the brain. This can result in permanent hearing loss or reduced hearing sensitivity.
  • The constant exposure to noise from the headphones can cause a temporary threshold shift (TTS), which is a temporary reduction in hearing ability after a loud sound. This can also lead to permanent hearing loss if repeated frequently.
  • The noise-induced hearing loss can also cause tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears only you can hear. Tinnitus can be annoying, distracting, or even distressing for some people.

To avoid or reduce hearing loss and tinnitus from headphones, you can:

  • Keep the volume at a safe level, preferably below 85 decibels (dB), which is equivalent to normal conversation level.
  • Limit your headphone use to no more than 60 minutes per day at 60% volume (the 60/60 rule).
  • Choose noise-canceling headphones that block out external noise and allow you to listen at lower volumes.
  • Wear earplugs or earmuffs when exposed to loud noises in your environment.
  • Get regular hearing tests and consult an audiologist if you notice any signs of hearing loss or tinnitus.

Sleep Problems

Another possible side effect of headphones on brain is sleep problems. This can happen for several reasons, such as:

  • The blue light emitted from your device screen when using headphones can suppress the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. This can make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • The stimulating or arousing content that you listen to with headphones can keep your brain alert and prevent you from relaxing or winding down before bed.
  • The noise from the headphones can interfere with your natural sleep rhythms and stages, such as deep sleep and REM sleep. This can affect your sleep quality and duration.

To avoid or reduce sleep problems from headphones, you can:

  • Avoid using headphones at least an hour before bed time.
  • Use blue light-blocking glasses or filters when using your device screen at night.
  • Choose soothing or relaxing content to listen to with headphones before bed, such as ambient sounds, meditation music, or guided relaxation.
  • Use earplugs or white noise machines to block out any external noise that may disturb your sleep.
  • Follow good sleep hygiene practices, such as having a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a comfortable and dark sleeping environment.

What happens if we use headphones daily?

Excessive use of headphones can lead to irreversible hearing impairment as it harms the delicate hair cells in the inner ear and the auditory nerve. Individuals need to take regular breaks while using headphones and refrain from exposing themselves to noise levels that exceed the recommended limits.

What happens when you use headphones for long time?

Extended and uninterrupted usage of headphones can result in various symptoms, including sudden onset injury such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus), ear pain, hearing loss, and dizziness. Continuously exposing the ears to excessive sound for an extended period disrupts the blood circulation within the ear, leading to fatigue and a heightened risk of hearing impairment.

Can headphones cause head pressure?

When headphones are excessively tight, they exert significant pressure on the temporal bone of the skull, stimulating the nerves in the skin and resulting in a headache. This type of pain is commonly experienced by individuals wearing glasses while using headphones. It is referred to as a compression headache and typically emerges within an hour of wearing the headphones.

What is a safe headphone volume?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is advised to keep the volume of your music or audio below 85 decibels (dB). While individual sensitivity to sound may vary, hearing loss can start to occur at certain objective decibel levels. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends a maximum limit of 85 dB to prevent hearing loss.


Headphones are a useful and enjoyable device for many people who love listening to audio content. However, they can also have some negative effects on your brain if you use them too often or too loudly. Some of the potential side effects of headphones on brain include headaches and migraines, hearing loss and tinnitus, and sleep problems.

To prevent or minimize these side effects, you should use headphones responsibly and moderately. You should also take care of your ears and your brain by following some simple tips and tricks that we have shared in this article.

I hope this article helps you understand the side effects of headphones on brain and how to avoid them. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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