We’ve been asked in the past, “can you lay down with hearing aids in?” What about sleeping while wearing them? While it may sound convenient or even practical to do so, we highly advise against it. As it turns out, there are several reasons to sleep without hearing aids, which we’ll cover in ample detail below. In addition, we’ll go over a couple of what-if scenarios before coming to a conclusion. Let’s get started!
Reasons to Sleep Without Hearing Aids
There are several reasons not to sleep with hearing aids in. Some concern your comfort and health, while others pertain to the functionality and longevity of the hearing aids themselves. These reasons include the following:
Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, but even the tiniest and most “invisible” models are still pieces of hardware attached to your ears throughout the night if left in. If you tend to sleep on your side, you may experience discomfort from your ear – and the inserted hearing aids – pressing down on the pillow or mattress. Alternatively, for models such as outside-the-ear hearing aids, laying on your back can have a similar unpleasant effect.
It’s best to avoid creating pressure points or irritating the skin, which can be done by simply removing your hearing aids before going to bed and storing them nearby in a safe place like a nightstand drawer.
No Unwanted Feedback Throughout the Night
Hearing aids use microphones to pick up and transmit sounds from the outside world, and some models have more than one. The positioning of these microphones is very important for ensuring an efficient, reliable solution for hearing loss, but this is also the Achilles’ heel of sleeping with them still in your ears.
A Better Night’s Sleep
If your hearing aids emit high-pitched whistling or other forms of feedback due to their design, as covered above, there is a chance that they will wake you up late in the night. This could happen several times while you are trying to sleep, especially with microphones that are more sensitive or, due to their positioning, are likelier to brush against fabrics or pillows.
A bad night’s sleep is detrimental to your health, wellness, and mood, particularly if you do not resolve the issue by removing your hearing aids before bed and let it happen every evening. Therefore, while you can technically sleep with hearing aids in, it’s likelier that you won’t sleep as soundly as without them.
You Won’t Be Alerted by Every Little Sound
Hearing aids can be extremely powerful devices, and if you have them at a higher setting when going to bed, it’s quite possible that everything from dogs barking outside to car horns in the street will jolt you awake. While it’s important to be able to get out of the house in the event of an emergency, such as an alarm going off, there’s a chance that sleeping with hearing aids on could make you a little jumpier and a lighter sleeper.
Breathability to Reduce the Risk of Wax Buildup
Now for the point that plenty of folks don’t like to think about. It’s not pretty, but all ears accumulate wax, especially when breathability is limited. Not removing hearing aids from your ear canals is like having earbuds inserted all the time, resulting in an increased buildup of moisture and wax. This can be a serious issue that may in fact worsen your hearing further, as an ear canal blocked with wax is not going to function correctly, hearing aid or not. Another risk of wax accumulation is that it may lead to possible infections or require an ear flushing, which can be an unpleasant experience.
Keep Your Hearing Aids Clean and Effective
Segueing off our wax-related point, your hearing aids need to be cleaned regularly and maintained in order to function correctly. Leaving them in your ears overnight means not taking them out, thereby not performing basic care of this highly sensitive equipment as often as you should. Depending on the design and feature set of your hearing aids, you might run into issues ranging from clogging due to wax to even damage. The latter is likely to be incurred by putting pressure on them as you roll, or if you are a side sleeper.
What if I Fall Asleep with My Hearing Aids In?
While we’ve highlighted several reasons not to sleep with hearing aids, accidents sometimes happen. For example, some folks come home from work, tired and wanting to destress, only to accidentally fall asleep upon laying down to put up their feet. Alternatively, you might nod off in the living room lounge by the fire. Regardless, if this happens, there’s no immediate risk.
If you happen to go to bed and forget to take out your hearing aids, however, it’s a good idea to set a reminder for yourself to avoid it becoming a habit. Should you develop a habit of not taking hearing aids out before sleeping, however, then some or all of the issues we explored earlier may occur. Occasionally falling asleep with them in will not do any damage, per se, but consistently neglecting them will pose problems later.
What if My Hearing Aids Keep Falling Out When I Fall Asleep?
If your hearing aids are falling out, regardless of whether you are asleep or awake, they likely don’t fit quite as well as they should. You shouldn’t need to fiddle with them constantly, but rather forget that they are even there! Of course, with this comes the risk of going to bed and not remembering to remove the hearing aids, which is why it’s very important to get into the habit of doing so. If you require assistance with the fit of your hearing aids, we recommend contacting an experienced audiologist to get the issue resolved.
What if I Wore My Hearing Aids in the Shower?
If this happens, it’s very important that you allow your hearing aids to air dry by placing them in their case and leaving it open. You should also shut them off, which can help protect against them shorting out if they don’t offer water resistance as a feature. Do not leave them in high-humidity or overtly moist areas like the bathroom immediately after a shower. With these measures taken, you can typically protect your hearing aids from developing any issues.
Some audiologists argue that hearing aids can lead to better sleep, but there are many caveats to consider (as we’ve explored above). It’s important for not only your auditory health but also the effectiveness of these devices to take them out whenever it makes sense to do so, such as before sleeping or stepping into the shower. Of course, there are exceptions, such as a quick and harmless nap on the couch, but long-term sleeping sessions while wearing hearing aids are generally best avoided. This can help your hearing aids function correctly for years to come with regular maintenance and cleaning.
Hearing aids are highly efficient, long-lasting, and high-tech devices that can make everyday life better for the wearer. There are always new innovations, features, and improvements emerging, as evidenced by our wide selection of hearing aids available for purchase at Robillard Hearing Centres. To learn more about how hearing aids work, maintenance tips or otherwise, reach out to our audiologists. We’re happy to help you make an informed decision! Alternatively, take our free online hearing test today to discover the right solution for your level of hearing loss.