Hands-on gadget review: Kokoon Nightbuds
Image credit: Kokoon
Sounds to help you drop off and get a good night’s sleep, in a package you may not even notice you’re wearing.
These are petite Bluetooth earbuds designed to be comfortable even in your sleep, however you sleep. They’re not separate ‘true wireless’ earbuds; instead the two are joined together with a wire.
The design seeks to minimise the size of the buds and ensure that they stay in firmly. Each genuinely fits into your ear without protruding. A spur of silicone points backwards and helps it stay comfortably in place, while the wire goes upwards and then is shaped to loop over the back of your ear. Then the design unusually has a zig-zag of wires leading to a flat, fabric-covered pack at the back of your head. The pack contains controls, an indicator light and no doubt the battery.
There are just three little buttons at the top of the pack. One for power and the others adjust the volume. They’re easy to use in the night but if you’re unsure whether the device is on or off, turning on your phone to check is too wakeful.
The Nightbuds boast a clever design so comfortable you forget you’re wearing them. You can say that about many earbuds… but try lying on your side in bed wearing them and you’ll say something very different. These are supremely lightweight and easy to forget about, while the zig-zag wire means no adjustment. The only bit of the fit you can customise is the buds themselves, which come with four alternative sizes of silicone tips, so you can experiment to find the pair that fits your lugholes best.
The Kokoon Nightbuds also come with a fabric carry case and a USB-C charging cable. The cable is short but if you use an Android phone there’s a good chance you use USB-C anyway, in which case you can simply plug them in at the bedside by day after charging your phone by night.
I’m embarrassed to confess that my dog tried to destruction-test the carry case. He stole it from my desk and hid it. I found it the next day on the sofa, chewed and ugly, but the Nightbuds inside were just fine… so the case did its job very well.
The comfort is outstanding. They’re designed for nights rather than everyday use, but you could also imagine using them on a plane. Headphones are never comfortable when you’re trying to sleep on a plane.
Tech-wise there’s also an optical heart-rate sensor built into the right earbud, to track your sleep. The device connects to your phone with Bluetooth 5.0 and has a battery life of 10 hours plus.
Kokoon Nightbuds are a pair of headphones, with a built-in mic for calls, and more. They pair with an app called MyKokoon that tailors sounds and reacts to your sleep cycles. The app is particularly good at white noise. You can pick from a wide menu of gorgeous sleepy sounds: waves, rain, the crackle of a fire, a forest and more. So far, so relaxing. And the white noise is good for masking other sounds – whether that’s a snorer next to you or traffic outside.
It comes into its own though when you layer on other sounds. For example, I’d put fire sounds on and play an Audible audiobook with a sleep timer. It sounded like someone was reading me a bedtime story at a campfire. Then ten minutes later, the story would stop and I’d be left with the crackling fire lulling me to sleep.
Kokoon offers curated playlists on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. You can also pick from the MyKokoon Library of soundscapes to fall asleep to. The content includes coaching, meditations, stories and music. You can even pick by theme, whether that’s anxiety, getting a good start to the next day or sounds to help with disrupted sleep.
All the sounds can be set to fade out when it senses that you’ve fallen asleep. And you can select a coloured noise that is introduced in the night whenever it senses you surfacing from sleep. Choose from pink, white or brown noise, each with a different tone.
The sleep sensors also track your sleep and the Data section of the app displays last night’s sleep in detail and data for the last week, plotted out and compared with the sleep pattern you were aiming for. You can even see what sounds you fell asleep to each night, so you can see what works. This is great but even more insight would be good: the app should simply tell you what works for you. Better still, what works when you’re anxious, what works when you’re shattered, what works when you can’t stop thinking, etc.
I found the Kokoon Nightbuds uniquely comfortable: you really can sleep in them. Which means you can fall asleep to the sounds of your choice without disturbing your partner. Or without being disturbed by them. The Library of sounds is a matter of personal taste: For me, the various white noise options were best.
Comfort is impressive and it’s good that you can listen to your own choice of sounds. I’d reach for them if I wanted to fall asleep to a book. And if I struggled to get to sleep, I’d reach for them all the time.
True wireless earbuds designed for sleep. They’re affordable but bulkier than the Kokoon. You can play soothing sounds, fade out when you fall asleep and track sleep but you can’t play your own choice of music and audiobooks from other apps.
Bose Sleepbuds II
Again these are bulkier than the Kokoons and don’t stream music or podcasts. They only play content from the Bose Sleep app: a library of more than 50 sounds, including noise-masking sounds and relaxation content.
These don’t play sleepy sounds or track sleep, they simply use active noise cancellation tech to cancel out sound instead of masking it. More high-tech earplugs than headphones, you don’t even need to pair them with a phone.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.