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- Headphones that are comfortable to sleep in are hard to come by.
- AcousticSheep’s SleepPhones ($99.95) are the original, and though they’re not perfect, they’re the best option I’ve found.
- The fleece is thick enough and the speakers thin enough to lay on top of comfortably.
- The battery life is long, the audio quality is good, and the volume has a better range than I’ve found in other products.
- There are cheaper options, but you might have to settle with inconveniences that make using sleep headphones pointless for the lower price.
Whether your neighbor just brought home a yappy dog, your partner snores, or you just really love listening to the measured cadence of an audiobook before you fall asleep, there are few prospective inventions so appealing as headphones that are comfortable enough to sleep in.
Like most people who rely upon audiobooks, podcasts, Orca Whale calls, or sleep playlists to fall asleep, I’ve been looking for such a hero product for a long time. Many high school mornings began with my mom tugging headphones out of my ears and an exasperated, obligatory warning about strangulation risk. Even now, roommates and thin walls prevent me from listening to music out loud at a comfortable volume (too low and you stay up straining to hear, too loud and you stay up worrying you’re being rude). As a result, I’ve woken up with a sore neck, back, and limbs from falling asleep with bulky over-ear headphones or seemingly minimal in-ear pods. I’ve even tried layering my pillows to provide the ideal depression for my ear to fit with a headphone with minimal pressure.
In other words, I’m a good candidate for the AcousticSheep Wireless Bluetooth SleepPhones. They’re the original sleep-friendly headphones, and you can find their Bluetooth version on Amazon for $99.95 or their Classics for $40 (not Bluetooth). The AcousticSheep headphones were created by a family physician to help patients fall asleep faster without relying on drugs. They’re carried at Nordstrom, Amazon, Walmart, and other popular online retailers.
The company recently sent a pair of their Bluetooth SleepPhones for us to test, and I’ve been sleeping with them for over a week. While they’re not perfect, they may very well be the best option available, and I’ve been happy with them.
First of all, it should be mentioned that there are cheaper iterations on the market. You can pick up an eye mask with Bluetooth built-in for $26 if you don’t mind the limited use or prefer the style, and there are other Bluetooth headbands on the market for less money, though with potential trade-offs like lower volumes, a shorter battery life, or bulkier audio pieces that may not be comfortable enough to lay down on.
The AcousticSheep SleepPhones may not be perfect — one Amazon review accurately described their original product as feeling like a "prototype" — but most bed-friendly headphones still feel like an advanced school science project. But of what I’ve tried, the AcousticSheep are the best, and the company has fixed many of the bugs found in earlier versions. The SleepPhones do what I need them to do, and they do it without any of the little inconveniences that would make buying sleep headphones otherwise moot.
The Bluetooth has been reliable and removed the discomfort of cords, the battery life lasts all night (it should go for 1o hours on a full charge), and, most importantly, the ultra-thin flat headphone speakers are comfortable to sleep on even when lying down on my side. In terms of comfort, they are the best I’ve tried. I’ve also noticed that the volume capacity is thankfully louder than other sleep-friendly products. The Bluetooth SleepPhones comes in three sizes to accommodate different head sizes, and if you’d prefer it as a sleep mask, you can use it that way, too.
Unlike many similar products, the AcousticSheep SleepPhones work like any other pair of headphones — letting you play whatever music or white noise you like, rather than being restricted to the same meditation tunes you find in an app. And unless you’re playing them at a very high volume, a partner should not be able to hear the noise. There isn’t a timer or "sleep setting" but you can usually set one on the app you’re using. And while some early reviews mention speakers sliding around in earlier iterations, I haven’t noticed that with my own pair.
In terms of downsides, the SleepPhones are pricey, and while the soft fleece is comfortable and thick enough to cushion against the tech, it might not be ideal for anyone who sleeps hot. There’s no indication of low battery (something you can address by consistent charging), and you have to "gut" the headband each time you want to charge the speakers.
Despite its flaws, the SleepPhones manage to avoid the more obnoxious inconveniences that make buying sleep headphones pointless in the end. For those tradeoffs, I found them to be among the best options for comfort, audio quality and volume, and battery life. If that’s worth $100 to you, you may want to give them a shot.
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