YBLTV Review: SleepPhones Wireless Headphones
Starting in my college years, I developed an awful relationship with sleep. In my youth, I suffered from night terrors; however, in my early twenties, I developed chronic sleep problems. It started out with the inability to go to sleep at night and long naps whenever I didn’t have class. Soon, there were stretches of days where I found myself awake for days, hoping I could fall asleep before the sunlight broke through my windows. It continued into my post-grad life; I was barraged with recommendations for yoga and black out curtains and exercise – none of these things truly addressed the poor quality of sleep I was experiencing. I found myself falling asleep to reruns of Arrested Development as white noise in the background, but soon, not even the TV was a relief. As anyone with chronic sleep problems knows, there comes a point where you feel helpless at night and dread each morning you’ve been awake to greet. I didn’t want to depend on medication, because many OTC sleep aids result in a developed resistance, which makes sleep even more unobtainable.
During my time at CES 2018, I rediscovered a company that I had heard about a number of years ago: AcousticSheep, and their product, SleepPhones. These headphones are specially designed into flexible fabric headbands (a SleepPhones blend fleece and a breathable blend) where flat, minimally padded speakers lay flush with your ears. These headphones allow a person to sleep or lay down comfortably while enjoying music or podcasts without the discomfort that normal earbuds would cause. Having had a pair of wired headphones several years ago, I was impressed with the advancements the company has made – they now include a range of SleepPhones, including a set that allows Bluetooth connectivity through a receiver in the band (SleepPhones Wireless) and another that allows for induction charging (SleepPhones Effortless). Additionally, AcousticSheep also sells CDs for white noise and nature sounds for those that dislike obstructed sleeping, a move I believe helps to widen their audience base substantially.
Given the SleepPhones Wireless to review, I was excited – the SleepPhones Wireless are charged through a silicone pad that attaches to the speakers and charger through a single micro-USB port on one side. Through testing, I found out that this meant that the SleepPhones Wireless needed to be charged throughout the day in order to be ready for bed time; the charge is said to be about 13 hours (above the average sleep cycle) and there is no way to charge while sleeping (probably for safety reasons). There’s also a play/pause button and volume control, allowing for personalized sound levels.
Throughout my testing, I was worried – I don’t like using the television to fall asleep anymore, since screen exposure and unfamiliar noises exacerbate my sleep problems, and music is far from relaxing for me, even classical or jazz. I opted to use white noise sounds throughout the first couple of days, yet I found myself tossing and turning at night and waking up frequently. Taking a different approach, I began listening to a podcast called “Sleep With Me: The Podcast That Puts You To Sleep.” Run by a monotone podcaster by the name of Scooter, each podcast runs about two hours and hopes to lull people to sleep through a combination of a flat voice, uninteresting stories, and various tangents that combine into a podcast where the content of each episodes varies from the next.
Using the SleepPhones Wireless in general allowed me comfort in entertainment while lying down and a sound quality better than my current earbuds, but combined with this podcast, increased the quality of my sleep hygiene. I find that these headphones allowed me undisturbed sleep and comfort while winding down for the night. As a standalone item costing $99USD, these headphones are the mid-range answer between the SleepPhones Classic and the induction charging SleepPhones Effortless at $129.95.
Coming from a reviewing standpoint, I found many positives, but also some questionable design choices with the SleepPhones Wireless. On the positives, I really enjoyed the comfortable band and the ability to move the speakers in order to be flush against my ears. I also liked the play/pause and volume control built into the silicone control pad itself. On the negatives, however, there are some things to consider before dropping nearly $100 on something you think will answer all your sleep problems:
- In my opinion as a writer with chronic sleep problem, these headphones are not an automatic answer to chronic insomnia and other sleep issues. Most sleep problems occur because of a deeper health problem, be it stress or medications or genetic predisposition. This headband on its own did not allow me to sleep better, but acted as an aid for me to relax and find some semblance of comfort at night with the assistance of specialized podcasts or apps. These headphones can be integrated as part of a new sleep routine, but for those with serious sleep problems, this may not be enough to replace supplements or medication; think of it as an addition to a healthy sleep routine, not a replacement.
- The SleepPhones Wireless would shift in the night, but in just the right place to block the sound of my alarm in the morning. I would just be aware that if you have an alarm set for something important, the SleepPhones Wireless may block the sound. I eventually learned to hear past the band for my alarm, but not everyone might be able to do the same.
- Syncing the band is challenging for those who depend on screens for Bluetooth syncing. You have to time the lights with the item you’re syncing, and if you’re syncing the SleepPhones Wireless to, say, a TV receiver or to speakers without a screen, you’re going to have to be patient and make sure that you understand the syncing requirements for both in order to understand the light patterns and colors.
- The instruction manual said that the charge lasted for thirteen hours, but I found it inconvenient to take the silicone charging pad out every morning to charge. The SleepPhones Effortless answers this problem at a nearly $30 (USD) price increase, but just keep in mind that if you fail to charge these throughout the day, you’ll need at least three hours prior to bed time to obtain a full charge.
- Comfortable fit: the speakers are flush with my ears and allow for comfort with my head on my pillow. I’ve even used them while writing and they’re much more comfortable for me than most earbuds
- Nice size: I have a fairly large head for a woman and the band fits snugly without much movement if my head is stationary
- Fabric Options: There are options for the SleepPhones blended fleece and the SleepPhones Breeze fabric, which is a lighter option for those who run hot
- No Cables While Sleeping: Ever since I received an electrical burn from a cord that had tangled under my neck while I was sleeping several years ago, I prohibit any cords on my bed. All of my cords must be long enough so that I can check on my devices in bed, but short enough that they keep me from bringing them to bed with me. The SleepPhone Classic has a cord that plugs into your device and while this may be acceptable for some, I like to be as wire-free as possible to avoid getting tangled in the cord or ripping it out while I sleep. I also have a cat that likes to chew, and adding one more wireless device has helped avoid another costly chew toy.
- Above Average Sound Quality: I was genuinely surprised at the quality of the SleepPhones Wireless; the sound out performed my workout earbuds and without the discomfort I usually deal with.
- Fast Charging Time: Even though I dislike taking out the silicone charging pad, the three hour charge time made turnaround much easier for me
- Doesn’t Automatically Fix Sleep Problems: This may be a genuine panacea for those with infrequent sleep problems, but for those with chronic ailments, these will most likely not be the only answer for your problems. I would just be aware of their purpose before placing too much pressure on the SleepPhones Wireless performance.
- Charging Pad: The silicone charging pads needs to be taken out and disconnected to be charged. This can shift the placement of the speakers and it’s not nearly an elegant design as the SleepPhones Effortless’s induction charging.
- Can Slip Off At Night: Although this isn’t really a deal breaker, the SleepPhones Wireless can shift throughout the night and if you are a light sleeper or a sleeper who tosses and turns, this could be something to consider
- Can Block Alerts: Unless the notification was through my phone, I often missed my alarms and this made my sleep cycle a little wonky. Make sure you have a back up, like a smartwatch alarm or a loud bedside clock.
- Cost: At $99 (USD), the price could be cost-prohibitive for some.
“The SleepPhones Wireless Headphones can be an amazing solution for those with infrequent sleeping problems or those who enjoy falling asleep to white noise, and can provide new assistive technology for those who suffer from chronic sleep problems as part of a long-term plan for improved sleep hygiene” – Katie Hernandez, YBLTV Writer / Reviewer, @khernandezYBLTV
Conclusion: While the SleepPhones Wireless may have some design elements that are better resolved in the SleepPhones Effortless, I found the Wireless version to be a great addition to my sleep routine. The cost is a little steep; however, as someone who understands those struggling with sleep issues, this may be a worthwhile investment to include in your sleep routine. However, I would integrate the SleepPhones Wireless as part of a comprehensive plan that includes physician advice. Overall, the SleepPhones Wireless are a 9/10 purchase for me – the only concern being the charging aspect.