In Review

Bose Sleepbuds review: engineering a good night’s sleep

Insomniacs rejoice! The elite audio brand has turned its attention to solving the problem of sleeplessness

What price a good night’s sleep? Bose is banking on the hope that sleep-deprived customers will be only too ready to reach for their credit cards.

It seems like a safe bet. Biometric apps have increased awareness of sleep-deprivation, but until now technology has offered little in the way of a solution. In fact, the standard advice to insomniacs has been to keep personal tech out of the bedroom. Glowing screens and email alerts are not the best preparation for a restful night.

Now, though, Bose Sleepbuds promise a technological solution to some of the most common nocturnal disturbances, including noisy neighbours, barking dogs and snoring partners.

Unusually, perhaps, Bose is keen to underline what the new products won’t do. “They aren’t active noise-cancelling headphones, they’re not in-ear headphones with an added feature, and they don’t stream music,” the company says. “Every last detail was optimised for one thing - better sleep, all night, every night.”

There are good reasons for these apparent omissions. Music streaming would have added uncomfortable bulk, while noise-cancelling systems, which work well to filter out the relatively consistent background hubbub of planes and trains, are less effective against isolated sounds in otherwise quiet conditions - just the kind of thing that wakes people up.

Instead, Bose aims to seal out as much sound as possible with an in-ear bud (provided in three sizes) and mask what remains with a selection of ten “sleeptracks”, engineered to mirror and mask the frequencies of traffic, snoring, human voices and barking dogs. Each one mimics a more relaxing sound: a waterfall, for example, or a crackling campfire.

A week-long trial of the Sleepbuds resulted in a significant improvement in sleep quality and quantity. Though small and unobtrusive, the earphones do take a little bit of getting used to - but after a night or two they’re comfortable even for side-sleepers. And they successfully masked the sound of amorous foxes, rubbish collections and an early-rising partner.

The buds are controlled with the Bose Sleep app, which lets you set alarms, adjust the volume of the soundtrack or put it on a timer - for example, if you only want it to play for an hour while you fall asleep and then switch itself off. The battery - a tiny silver-zinc cell of the sort used in medical devices - lasts for about 16 hours, and can be recharged a few times from the case.

All this miniaturisation comes at a price - a sizable £229.95. But for the sense of wellbeing which follows a good night’s sleep, that might be a price worth paying.

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