Many of us struggle with sleep, be it because of noisy, snore-shaken bedroom environments (not looking at anyone in particular, dearly beloved wife of mine), runaway thoughts or any number of bad habits. You’ll have to sort out your own bad habits, but British company Kokoon has dedicated itself to personal audio sleep aids that can help with the first two.

Originally, that meant headphones that are specifically designed to be slept in. Because most of them aren’t; big, chunky cans designed to look cool don’t stay on your noggin all night, and there’s no smarts built in to shepherd you into dreamland and help you stay there. We reviewed Kokoon’s ultra-comfy, EEG-equipped, noise-cancelling headphones back in August.

Our man Rich Haridy did that review; I couldn’t, because I’m a side sleeper and even those soft, flattish headphones don’t jive with a side sleeping position. But Kokoon is following up very quickly with an extremely slim and comfy set of earbuds designed to stay in right through the night no matter what you’re up to.

NightBuds, says Kokoon, are “the smallest in-ear sleep audio product currently available,” and at just 5.4 mm (0.2 inches) thick, they’re designed to stick out of your ears as little as possible so you can plonk your head down sideways on a pillow without them pushing into your skull.

OK they look pretty weird if you wear them out of bed
OK they look pretty weird if you wear them out of bed


As with the original headphones, visual design takes a back seat to functionality, and in this case they look a bit like some sort of futuristic binaural hearing aid design in the way their wavy wires extend backward to meet in a flat module on the back of your head. But that’s part of making the buds themselves as tiny as possible; the rear module holds more than 10 hours’ worth of battery, as well as volume and power controls that would otherwise need to be built into the earbuds.

Where the full size Kokoon headphones track your sleep activity using built-in EEG sensors, these buds opt instead for PPG, or photoplethysmogram sensors that use infra-red light to measure your heart rate and its variations. It remains to be seen how well these sensors get the job done, but we did find the EEG tracking a bit glitchy to begin with.

This system can track and report on your sleep over time, and the Kokoon app is dedicated to “sleep coaching” with tips personalized to your sleep profiles as well as a bunch of different audio soundscapes designed to calm the mind and let you drift off.

The NightBuds' super-thin design is designed to be slept on
The NightBuds’ super-thin design is designed to be slept on


But perhaps its killer feature is the claimed ability to work out when you’ve drifted off, bookmark the podcast or audiobook you’re listening to, and then fade out very gradually to sleep-supporting white noise. That sounds great to me, I’ve missed many a chapter by drifting off, then waking up, realizing I’ve got no idea what’s going on, going hunting back for the last bit I remember, and then not being able to get to sleep again because the whole process has woken me up just enough that I can’t drop off again.

“Noise isolation and dynamic noise masking” are said to help block out snoring and external noises while falling short of flat-out noise cancellation. They’ll wake you up gently with a custom alarm clock. And unlike Amazefit Zenbuds or Bose Sleepbuds, they’ll work as a regular Bluetooth 4.0 headset through the day as well, including the ability to make phone calls thanks to a built-in mic.

They’re pricey, at a retail price of US$249. But they’re up for a limited number of early birds on Kickstarter at US$125 or US$149, depending on how quick you get in. We’re interested in seeing how they perform. Pitch video is below.

NightBuds – smart earbuds for better sleep and relaxation

Source: NightBuds Kickstarter

Audio New Atlas