Could These $330 Earbuds Be The Answer to Better Sleep?
Our super tired writer puts them to the test.
I’m a girl who needs her sleep. When I don’t get some quality Zzz’s, I’m moody, irritable, unable to focus, and just all-around unpleasant to be around (not to mention I fall asleep at the most inconvenient times during the day). However, my environment and surroundings make this difficult — construction outside my condo begins at 7:15 a.m., sirens pass by at least two or three times a night and there are constantly people yelling and screaming outdoors. To top it all off, my partner, as much as I love him, is an obnoxious snorer and constantly wakes me up in the middle of the night and makes it difficult for me to fall back asleep. (Psst: Don’t miss these 15 things sleep doctors wish you knew about snoring.)
I’ve tried sleeping with earplugs, but they always fall out within minutes, and in-ear headphones are far too uncomfortable to sleep with (and I’m low-key scared of strangling myself in the cords). I thought I was out of luck and would just have to deal with being sleep-deprived, but then I heard about Bose Noise-Masking Sleepbuds and felt a glimmer of hope that I could finally get a good night’s sleep.
Bose describes its Sleepbuds as “revolutionary” as it’s the first-ever product from the brand to use noise-masking technology. They’re made to worn exclusively while you sleep and use soothing sounds (ocean waves, white static, a rustling campfire, etc. ) to block, cover and replace the most common noises that interfere with sleep (think snoring, neighbors, dogs, traffic and more). The wireless earbuds weigh 1.4 grams each and come with three different-sized ear tips to ensure a snug, but comfortable fit, no matter what position you sleep in. Sounds like a dream (no pun intended), right?
Additionally, the Sleepbuds come in a sleek, travel-friendly aluminum charging case that provides up to 16 hours of battery life unplugged. They use low-energy Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone (Apple or Android) and work with the free Bose Sleep app, which is where you control the buds — from the sleep sound you’d like to listen to (there are 10 to choose from) to the how loud or soft you want the sound to be. You can even set a morning alarm, which will be heard via the Sleepbuds.
I put the Sleepbuds to the test for a full week to see if these high-tech earbuds really could improve my sleep. Here’s what happened:
Night 1: I slept through the construction, which makes these Sleepbuds a win in my books already. It was a bit weird having something in my ears, but they were surprisingly comfortable. Putting them on was bizarre — it truly felt like I was shutting out the world around me, which kind of freaked me out, so I kept the volume quite low, just in case.
When the alarm went off it wasn’t jarring at all and woke me up gently. Overall, I had a good sleep, except for the fact that I was hyper-aware there was something in my ears. I was told that this takes some getting used to, so I’ll see if I continue to notice them by the end of the week. What’s interesting is the sleep sound ends up just being background noise. When I woke up during the middle of the night, I didn’t hear the soft waves of the “Swell” track, and for a minute I thought the Sleepbuds stopped working! It wasn’t until I started actively listening that I heard the sounds again.
Night 2: I woke up to the sound of construction and without the left Sleepbud in my ear. I guess I got annoyed of it at night! I decided to switch out the ear tip for a smaller size — apparently, it’s common to wear different sizes in each ear.
Night 3: I tried the smaller ear tip but it was too small, so I stuck to the medium-sized tip. Also, this night marked the partner snore test.
One thing I realized — the Sleepbuds are an extra step to your bedtime routine. It wasn’t like I could just talk to my partner until we fell asleep — I really had to say goodnight, plug in and block him out.
He was intrigued and as soon as I put them in, he started talking nonsense to see if I could hear him. “I’m gonna pick my nose. I’m going to pick your nose. Fergalicious definition make them boys go loco.” He obviously didn’t realize I didn’t turn the sounds on yet.
I didn’t put the sleep sound on too loudly, so I did hear my partner snore faintly a couple of times throughout the night. However, the background noise helped in that it was a nice thing to focus on to help drown out the snoring.
Night 4: I decided to turn up the volume to see if I could really mask my partner’s snoring, and it worked! I also liked that my alarm didn’t wake him up since I was the only one who could hear it. What I didn’t like, however, was how much effort it took to snooze the alarm. Rather than just hitting a snooze button, I had to swipe left on the notification on my lock screen and then click snooze. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but when you’re groggy, that extra step makes a difference.
Night 5: My alarm went off, but didn’t show up on my phone’s lock screen, so I couldn’t hit snooze! This could be seen as a good thing (meaning it forces you to get up right away), but for me, it could be a cause for disaster (for example, if I took the earbuds out, fell back asleep and didn’t wake up until hours later).
Night 6: I set the volume relatively low at the beginning of the night but was awakened by the sound of sirens a few hours later. Unfortunately, adjusting the volume isn’t exactly easy either — I needed to unlock my phone and go back into the app to adjust it, as the volume button on my phone didn’t work. Again, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when it’s dark and you’re half asleep, staring at a bright screen isn’t going to help you fall back asleep.
Night 7: This evening required no alarm be set, thankfully, so I was able to just keep the Sleepbuds on and awake naturally. At this point, I felt like I really found the sweet spot for the volume of the background sound and was able to sleep through the evening undisturbed.
The Final Verdict
The Sleepbuds, although pricey ($330), are a great concept and do mask those annoying sounds that can keep you up at night. However, the app needs improvements. The controlling of the alarm in the morning was a big drawback for me, as was the volume adjustment. In terms of comfort and fit, you do get used to them a few evenings in, however, I felt the left ear tip didn’t fit quite as well as the right ear tip, no matter which size I tried.
Overall, for me, the Sleepbuds themselves are worth it — I did feel much more rested (especially in the following weeks that I continued to use them) and I would imagine they would be great for a long plane ride where it’s difficult to fall asleep with all the chaos going around you. Again, it’s the app that needs fixing, but I feel like that is something that will probably be improved in the near future.
Disclaimer: A pair of Bose Noise-Masking Sleepbuds were provided for testing for this article.
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