I’ve been sitting inside a lot recently, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. I’ve been sleeping a lot, listening to more music than ever, and spending countless hours on the internet. These passions have coalesced in a burning interest to mine the World Wide Web for new-age products that offer a combined experience of premium listening and sleeping.
People are paying more attention than ever before to how sleep practices affect daily lives. New desires to get the perfect night’s rest come with the demand for technology that delivers those results. Now we’re seeing headphones and other listening devices designed from the outset with the specific purpose of being effective sleep aids. Here’s a list of some of my favorite sleep-centered headphones:
The Kokoon Powered by Onkyo
The Kokoon Headphones powered by Onkyo come in at $299, making them the most expensive on this list. Years of research went into the patented audio seal for these headphones. There is a special ventilation system that maintains the acoustic seal while allowing air to flow around the ear cushions. That means you can stay in bed with them for much longer without getting hot or uncomfortable. There’s a special cooling gel integrated into the headband — where the company also put all of the headphone’s circuitry, so they could keep the ear pieces as flat as possible.
The Kokoon Headphones’ sleep tracking technology is really where the line blurs between the product and the user. EEG scanners are inside of the cups, tracking your brain activity while you rest or drift off to sleep. The EQ sound profile and ANC settings are continuously modified to suit your sleep patterns as they progress.
Different settings of sleep-length can be chosen so that the headphones automatically calibrate an optimal alarm to wake you up with. You can even set the headphones to automatically transition your music to white noise once they detect you have fallen asleep. They come with an evolving bank of ambient soundscapes named after painfully classic scenes like “Cozy Cottage” and “Babbling Brook.”
It’s hard for me to believe that a pair of over-ear headphones could every be perfectly comfortable in bed, no matter how well designed. After all, I’m primarily a side-sleeper. Reports seem to indicate that they’re extremely comfortable for people that stay on their backs. Regardless, $299 for a pair of Onkyo-engineered headphones covered in 4000-count Egyptian cotton seems like a fine deal to me.
The Kokoon Headphones raised over $2M through Kickstarter when the project launched in 2015, and after a few rounds of redesigns, the final product finally started shipping out last year. I think this is a great choice for more serious listeners that want a truly involved sleep experience.
Bedphones by DubLabs
The DubsLabs Bedphones first came out in 2011. They were one of the first, if not the first, earbuds designed with the explicit purpose of making music-listening while sleeping comfortable. Gen 3.5 came out last month. True audiophiles may find something lacking in the sound profile. The Bedphones do, however, provide an affordable option for people who love music right in their ears as they’re going to sleep.
The DubsLabs Bedphones are fitted with 23mm drivers and have 32 Ohms of resistance. They come sold with a cute, branded sleeping mask. These are not noise cancelling buds, and they’re not going to be a perfect fit for every ear. DubsLabs’ Bedphones are a great option for late-night music lovers that need a straightforward, reliable product.
I’m fond of the Bedphones as one of the first products that really tapped into the intersection of music and sleep. The wireless version recently came out for $149, and the original wired product stands at $89. The new Gen 3.5 earbuds are 15% thinner than the originals, featuring a more durable cable and new playback controls.
SleepPhones by AcousticSheep
The SleepPhones by AcousticSheep also found huge success crowdfunding through Kickstarter. The product launched in 2015, and the latest physical update happened towards the end of 2018. This wearable tech took comfort-centered design to a whole new level by fully integrating their headphones into a fabric headband.
These are another item that aren’t going to boast incredibly rich, vibrant sound for our audiophiles. They’re simply not designed for the best-sounding listening experience — just the most comfortable one. The square speakers are placed in the fabric by your ears so that you can sleep without interruption. There’s 10 hours of playback, and the newer, $149-version uses induction charging with a proprietary base that you can just leave by your bed.
The original, wired-charging version is still quite affordable at just $99. AcousticSheep has really pushed design forward with this product, beautifully merging utility and comfort. In a new Kickstarter campaing by them, funds are being raised for a version of the SleepPhones with an extensive ASMR soundbank. I’d like to see where that goes.
Sleepace Sleep Headphones
Sleepace is quite an interesting company. The Sleep Headphones appear on marketplaces all over the internet, and are just one product in an array of smart home technologies available on their website. Sleepace also offers enterprise solutions and other items in fields from smart bedding to baby monitors and elderly care. Sleepace’s Sleep Mask is this lists’ most affordable option for those looking for a pleasant, music-filled dreamtime.
The Sleepace Mask is available from a slew of retailers for around $49. Though there are many scattered customer reviews on various websites, it’s been hard to find more formalized, in-depth review. The Sleepace website details a companion app with pretty sophisticated sleep tracking features that do things like adjust your alarm clock so you wake up at the optimal point in your cycle.
They certainly look comfortable, but customer reviews on the fit, feel, and sound are scattered. Some say it sounds amazing, or that the speakers stopped working completely after a month. Some say that they headband feels great no matter how they’re sleeping, or that it’s quite uncomfortable when you sleep on your side. It seems to me like a well-designed product with a lot of interesting features — assuming everything works. A good deal for just $49.
The Quieton Noise (or rather, Snore) Cancelling Earbuds are in a league of their own. Like the new Bose Sleepbuds, these are earbuds with ANC that cancels out the noise around you. The ANC is designed specifically for nighttime disturbances such as snoring, which take up different frequency ranges and require different attention than your regular, daytime noises.
That’s where the functionality of these buds stop, however. There are no music playback capabilities. Sure, there’s talk-through mode, and you can do things like turn the ANC off. They have a battery life, and they charge. But these $199 earbuds (on sale at QuietOn’s website, down from the original $240 price tag) are solely for the purpose of cutting out noises so you get a better night’s sleep.
I would stick to your regular foam earbuds for all that. However, its amazing seeing this level of engineering and design going into something as simple as an earbud that doesn’t even put music in your ear. If you have the money, or maybe if you just sleep with someone who snores that badly, I would say shoot for the stars.