View Full Version : Using headphones at night - A serious concern?

June 4, 2011, 04:16 PM
Hey guys!

I was wondering about this for a long time and need your input on this.

When your wife/girlfriend (Or the other way around for females) is sleeping right beside you and you want to use your laptop, probably watch a few firearm review videos etc, I'm sure the reasonable thing to do is to put on the headphones so that you don't disturb your partner.

I'm sure you know where this is going ....

Anyway, once those noise canceling devils are on, your situational awareness becomes zero. Presumably its dark, your laptop's screen is shinning in the dark right on your face, making everything pitch black in the background and since you have the headphones on, you won't even hear if a burglar has broken in to your house. Your partner might wake up but we all know that there are always a few sleepers who wouldn't even get up if a nuclear bomb went off right next to them :D

So anyway, just want to hear out from you guys whether you've thought about this too? Once in a situation like this, what are the things that one must do to ensure that your partner sleeps comfortably and you get to do your work/research/entertainment etc without being a disturbance.

Rain down them two cents!

June 4, 2011, 04:33 PM
I have used headphones at night (watched movies on ipod, etc). I also use headphones while hiking occasionally, probably not the best tactical move either. When I do, I use the old style wired phones (not the ones with the noise blocking rubber surround, or the ear muff style ones) and keep the volume just loud enough to hear what im listening to, while retaining about 80% of my normal hearing ability.

If you are really worried about it I would think the most sensible option would be to either move your laptop location away from your sleeping partner, or see if they would not mind ear plugs.

June 4, 2011, 04:54 PM
I have a Jack Russell and a pair of bulldog mixes. They'll make more noise than my computer earplugs, if anything happens that I should know about. So no, at home, I don't really worry about it.

I don't use earplugs while driving, riding a bike, or walking near traffic.

Forward theaters have restrictions against using earplugs while on roads or sidewalks on base (you can use them in the gym); they would be a definite no-go in the field.

But at home, dogs are a very good thing.

June 4, 2011, 05:18 PM
Our dog is a light sleeper and has a very loud bark, so earbuds at home are not an issue.
But when we are away from home I generally use 1 earbud and leave my "better" ear available.

June 4, 2011, 08:57 PM
I think a larger problem is hearing loss from having the volume so loud you can't hear a window break or a door getting kicked in.

June 4, 2011, 09:44 PM
Dogs, and keeping the volume low enough to hear them go nuts. I also don't disturb my wife with doing anything like that in bed - I tend to sleep better without a computer on my fat tummy.

June 4, 2011, 10:11 PM
Use the headphones and live life on the edge.

June 4, 2011, 10:43 PM
Do whatever makes you feel comfortable where you live. I'm sure there are safe areas in Pakistan just like there are places there you wouldn't want to be without a gun in your hand. You know your situation better than anyone here.

Personally, I don't feel the need to be "tactically aware" 100% of the time in my home.

Tom Servo
June 4, 2011, 11:23 PM
Anyway, once those noise canceling devils are on, your situational awareness becomes zero.
That's my biggest problem with the iPod/cell phone generation. Those things severely hamper situational awareness.

Now, as far as headphones, there's not much need for noise cancellation if you're at home. Good open-backed headphones (also known as supra-aural) are a better bet. They're more comfortable, they present a wider soundstage, and they have better presentation of dynamic range in the mids and highs. Unless you're really cranking the volume, they won't bleed enough sound to be noticeable.

If we're talking about those Bose things, well, there are much better headphones out there at the price.

June 5, 2011, 12:01 AM
You should always have extra layers of security in your house. As some have already mentioned, a canine friend is usually enough to deter the casual criminal. Even if it doesn't, it should be able to alert you. I have a dog and an alarm system in my house. I do wear headphones when I am on the computer so I don't wake my daughter in the next room. I don't put them loud enough so that it blocks out all sound though.

June 5, 2011, 12:13 AM
Besides temporarily losing situational awareness, using earbuds can result in a 25% hearing loss over 4 years.

That means you will permanently lose situational awareness.

June 5, 2011, 03:12 AM
There are two of them right?

Only use one; I have been doing this for years.

I do this about every night upstairs and have zero problem hearing my dogs toenails clicking on the flooring downstairs; I also don't blast the volume, just enough to hear what I am listening to, I value my hearing greatly.

June 5, 2011, 03:14 AM
I've been using earbuds/phones a lot in the past 5 years, my hearing is fine. Hell, I listen to some loud, angry, and often distorted death metal and the like. I agree it's not likely good, but I'm fine.

That aside, I never really have a problem with it. I'm alone in the house, so I just keep the volume low. If I am elsewhere, or have visitors I usually don't have such a problem. My neighbors two sons are druggies, and known thieves. If I worried about all of it, every moment, every day, I would go insane. Not saying I'm right in the head but you get the idea.

Headphones can indeed hinder your senses, so can staring at a computer screen. So can sitting in a car, so can frustration, so can a child, so can alcohol, and worst of all, you could be cleaning your gun when someone breaks in! :eek: :rolleyes:

June 5, 2011, 03:19 AM
and worst of all, you could be cleaning your gun when someone breaks in!

As we all know two is one and one is none. :D

June 5, 2011, 06:53 AM
I never understood the logic of watching TV, reading, or similar distractions in bed. When I go to bed, it's for one of two things. If I want to watch TV, I have a fine chair to sit in.
Will it really matter if you have the earphones on while awake or are asleep when someone breaks in? If they're furtive enough, you won't wake up anyway.
Situational awareness is learned over a period of time. The logical approach to my home's entrance is across a wood deck just outside the my bedroom window. I have 60% hearing loss but am often awakened by cats or raccoons walking on the deck. I seriously doubt that anyone would be able to approach w/o waking me even in winter with the window closed. Rattletraps made with empty aluminum cans cover the less likely approaches. Easy, cheap, and nonthreatening.

June 5, 2011, 09:35 AM
Headphones cancel out noise even when muted; although I never used headphones in bed.

Put pots and pans on a counter and tie a string to them. Connect the string to the door and a string across the windows.

Laugh if you wish but I’ve done it and it works.

old bear
June 5, 2011, 10:19 AM
Use the headphones and live life on the edge.
+1, being aware of our surroundings and what is or is not happening around us is truly our first line of defense. That being said, IMO this can be taken to the extreme, and this may be a case of that. If anyone is so worried about their safety at home when using headphones they should strongly consider moving or giving up headphones all together.

As an aside, I always thought that there were better things to do in bed than watch gun videos when you have your partner with you. ;)

June 5, 2011, 09:02 PM
LOL @ Oldbear ;)

For sure, there are much more 'Interesting' things to do but what even an old 'bear' like yourself would understand that some days the mama bear just needs some sleep ;)

Excellent responses everyone!

I have an infra-red home warning alarm system in my house. Once you put the 4 digit code in at night, all the entrance points of the house are secured. If there's a breach, a warning siren rings and the the alarm company contacts you. If nobody picks up, they send over a team of 6 well armed guys who take positions and ready to deal with any threat while advancing.

If you DO pick up the phone, they ask you a YES or NO question which you've already shared with them when you were signing up. If NO means danger, they'll dispatch the guys. If you've triggered the alarm by mistakes, they'd re-confirm and then let you go.

Even with all this, I was concerned because once I was in Canada and was in my apartment with the earphones on. There was a break in next door and I only found out about it in the morning. If I wasn't using them, I could have been more aware of my surroundings. Thank God nobody was injured or harmed and all I kept thinking about was what if it was my home?

My home in Pakistan is secured. What I'm worried about is my other home which is in Canada. Only have a frying pan to defend myself with over there :D

June 5, 2011, 09:15 PM
Put pots and pans on a counter and tie a string to them. Connect the string to the door and a string across the windows.

Laugh if you wish but I’ve done it and it works.

No laughing, that would work...but I have 5 cats, too, and they'd knock 'em off for the heck of it, probably right about 2 AM...:eek:

June 5, 2011, 11:23 PM
If it is a concern.....just use an earphone in one ear. I do this every day at work and I can hear any out of the ordinary noise. Matter of fact, I bought a set and just cut one bud off with my knife so it is not dangling about.

June 6, 2011, 12:51 PM
+1 on shootniron......

If I'm in public, I only use one earphone in my "weak" ear....not only do I still hear what I need to, I can even carry on a conversation & not miss my favorite show/podcast.

June 6, 2011, 04:00 PM
I'm sure the reasonable thing to do is to put on the headphones so that you don't disturb your partner.

My wife would kill me dead right there. No I will get my lazy rear end up and go out to the living room and do whatever. Never wake up the OWMBO ever.

Use of sensored lites outside is a dead giveaway for someone trying to get inside. then there is the dogs, then there is the camera smile it isnt candid :) LOL did you know you can get wireless cameras that can be put almost anywhere? :) and are very affordable.

June 6, 2011, 05:40 PM
I dont think that it would be a good thing for any of us to live our lives like we are in a combat zone pulling sentry duty. At some point, anyone can begin to overthink the idea of "situational awareness". After-all its not some hyper technical issue, just plain ole "paying attention".

If you are really concerned about it, re-enforce your bedroom door and door frame.

June 6, 2011, 10:10 PM
I live out amongst the trees at a dead-end circle and at night I'm out with Maggie, my 85lb american bulldog. Not too worried about it.

Now back when I lived in philly? If I was actually worried because I was in a specific area, I wouldn't, but in general I'd wear them. Can't always live on yellow.

Doublea A
June 22, 2011, 09:09 PM
To Anthrax

This is a great question and not to hijack your thread but in general headphones are notorious for creating a situation in which our guards are let down.

I lived in Brooklyn, NY for about 5 years and what I learnt from there was that situation awareness is almost important than being armed and oblivious. I have seen many women on the jug with headphones and totally oblivious to their surrounding. The element of surprise is the first step of any potential assault.

To answer your question, I have used headphones in the house so the wife can enjoy her beautiful sleep but I have always kept it low enough to hear any unwanted visitors .:D:D:D:D:D

June 22, 2011, 09:52 PM
Use the headphones and live life on the edge.
This is what I would do.

If you are that paranoid though, you could just take your computer and wait by the door or window with gun in hand. Or just skip the movies and go to sleep with your girlfriend. Or take turns with her every 4 hours or so standing guard while the other sleeps...

Don P
June 23, 2011, 06:51 AM
Unless you are bedding down for the night and leaving the front door WIDE OPEN I don't see a issue with it.

June 25, 2011, 02:49 PM
I have a similar problem, i have trouble getting to sleep and would like to try earplugs, but that sounds like a terrible idea when it comes to home defense.

The way i see it is, i would hope an alarm system would wake you through your headphones/earplugs, and if you don't have an alarm system that's more of a problem than watching a movie with headphones on. An intruder could always get lucky and enter your home quietly, nice clean break on a window, through the basement, break in timed with a car driving by or a lightning strike. Those last couple are pretty far odds, but since when has good/bad odds affected our decisions to protect ourselves? that's a gun control talking point.

Personally, my home doesn't have an alarm system and i wish it did. I've been shopping around but our money is stretched out as it is. Got some loud mouth dogs though... and i don't sleep with the earplugs.

June 26, 2011, 05:03 PM
Interesting thread. My question is, is it that common that someone breaks into your house at night in the US?. I'm talking from the perspective of someone who hasn't ever been to America.

Over here we do have burglars, of course, but they usually prefer to break into houses whenever they are sure their occupants are away, so they can steal comfortably. This, however, has changed a bit during the last years, since now we have "imported" criminality coming from the former East Block European countries. Those are organized criminals, in a lot of cases with a military background. They're violent and they don't care whether the family is inside or not. And yes, there have been a couple of cases of the burglars being shot by the owners, and other cases where the occupants were unarmed and the consequences have been disastrous.

June 26, 2011, 10:42 PM
Nordeste, most criminals in America do still avoid breaking in when the home is occupied. However, in some instances they pick occupied homes, or just don't care if it is occupied.

Home invasions are not the common occurence that internet forums make them out to be. They do happen, but most often when they do it is accidental. Usually the burglar thinks the place is empty and gets a suprise.

June 27, 2011, 04:49 AM
Thank you, MikeNice. I guessed it was pretty much as you say, that it's not that common and people just lays on the "just in case" policy.

Owning a handgun in Spain is uncommon for a citizen unless there are very solid reasons for him/her to apply for it. People like judges, prosecutors, jewellers, gun shop owners or people who has been threatened/blackmailed by organized crime can have them, but that's it. People can, however, apply for a "sports license" and still have hanguns, but you gotta keep them in a proper locker at home and cannot carry them on the street. They can just travel from your house to the range, and back. The last case of burglars breaking in a house and assaulting the family, ended up with the Head of the family retrieving one of his guns (a .22, by the way) and shooting two of the assailants. One was pronounced dead on scene, the other was hit and fled (arrested quickly afterwards), together with the third one, uninjured. In this case they carried knives and batons, but make your guess if they had firearms (which they sometimes do). The defender still had to prove in court that he had to use lethal force because there was no other option. That's as stupid as our system is.

Different thing is the countryside, where hunting licenses and shotguns/rifles are more or less common. In the cities, most of us live in 2-3 bedrooms apartments. There's not much of the suburban culture with single-family houses, except in the typical wealthy areas or the countryside.

June 27, 2011, 04:28 PM
is it that common that someone breaks into your house at night in the US?.

Day, night, anytime. I live out in the country, the next door neighbor (1/4 mile away) was out in the garden, 2 guys went into the house and stole their things then tied em up when they walked in on em. House is now with new occupants.

We get folks drive out to our area and look for stuff to take. Gotta lock everything up or it disappears. In the city folks are shooting each other.

July 6, 2011, 11:43 AM
Use a mono plug, single ear jack. Also, dogs.

August 1, 2012, 04:26 PM
Apologies for digging this up, but i ran into a similar situation with my "music" being to loud for my neighbors ( there lucky im a peaceful man). Either way my music was essentially deminished to a set of headphones or face eviction. I searched around and found these wirelesss Altec Lansing back beat stereo headset (http://www.wirelessground.com/backbeat903.html). They have an "open mic" button, that once pushed faintly allows the ambiance/sound around you to seep into your music. They are perfect for jogging/biking as well, just pop the open mic on when traffic gets thick....

Frank Ettin
August 1, 2012, 06:39 PM
A loud alarm is always a fall back.

But as an old guy from a prior generation, I see this as a simple matter of choice and trade-off. If you choose to listen to something with headphones on, you have chosen to limit your situational awareness.

If you don't think that's a good idea, maybe you'll want to consider going somewhere where you could listen without headphones and without disturbing anyone, as markj suggested. Or you could read a book.

Sometimes trying to have everything all at once isn't going to work out.