The Kokoon Nightbuds might look like ordinary wireless earbuds, but they’re actually a one-stop-shop packed with all the sleep aids you could ask for. They offer ambient noise to mask background distractions, soothing sound stories, guided meditation sessions, nightly sleep tracking, and (unlike the Amazfit Zenbuds and Bose Sleepbuds) they allow you to stream your own choice of music or podcasts from your phone.
They’re well designed too, fitting snugly against your head and staying securely in place overnight thanks to the soft ‘prongs’ on the silicone earpieces. Even if you have a restless night, they won’t budge, and they’re slim enough to be comfortable regardless of your sleeping position.
The Kokoon app is equally well designed, and a piece of cake to use. Connecting the buds and selecting your preferred ambient noise is extremely simple, and it’s possible to combine the sound of gentle rainfall, white noise or a crackling fire with a relaxing guided meditation, coaching session, or ‘storyscape’ to help you drift off.
In the morning, you’ll wake up to an analysis of your sleep, broken down into light, deep, REM, and periods of wakefulness. Unfortunately there’s not much in the way of analysis here; there’s no timeline to track when each sleep stage occurred, and the app doesn’t advise you on whether you spent a sufficient portion of the night in each stage.
You don’t get much advice on improving your sleep either, though this might be a feature that’s coming later to subscribers. At $ 149 / £ 149 (about AU $ 210) that optional annual fee is a big commitment, so we hope Kokoon is going to add more insights for members soon.
Price and release date
The Kokoon Nightbuds were released in December 2021 following a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, and can be purchased directly from Kokoon. You can make a one-off payment of $ 199 / £ 183 (about AU $ 280) for the Nightbuds and access to the Kokoon app currently discounted from the full price of $ 249.99 / £ 229.99 (about AU $ 340).
Alternatively, you can pay an annual subscription fee of $ 149 / £ 149 (about AU $ 210), which also gives you a lifetime device warranty.
At full price, that’s similar to that of the Bose Sleepbuds II, which retails for $ 249.95 / £ 229.95 / AU $ 379.95. However, the Sleepbuds only offer ambient sounds to ease you off to sleep; there’s no sleep tracking, and you can’t use them as Bluetooth headphones to listen to your own music or podcasts at night.
The Kokoon Nightbuds look similar to running headphones, with a pair of earbuds joined by a cable with a small control unit in the center. The cable has a concertina-like shape, and is springy so it fits snugly against the back of your head at night (Kokoon warns not to stretch it straight out to avoid damaging it). The ends loop over your ears, which helps holds the earbuds firmly in place.
The control unit (which measures 67mm x 29mm) sits near the nape of your neck, where you won’t feel it even if you’re lying on your back. The side that rests against your skin is covered with soft silicone feeling, while the side that lies against your pillow is covered in fabric. This unit contains the headphones’ Bluetooth receiver, battery, and other components, and is where you’ll find the volume and power buttons.
The Nightbuds are charged via USB-C, and are supplied with a power cable. This is rather short, but the Nightbuds are so light, they don’t pull on the cable if you allow them to dangle in mid-air while charging.
You get a choice of different sized silicone eartips to choose from, so you can get the right fit; we found the ones fitted as standard were just right. They have a slightly unusual design, with a 12mm soft silicone prong that helps prevent them from becoming dislodged if you sleep on your side.
In our tests, this worked very well; in fact, we had to be careful removing the earbuds in the morning to avoid the silicone tips being left in our ears.
Comfort and ease of use
Before you can start using the Kokoon Nightbuds, you’ll first need to install the companion app (available for iOS or iPhone) and create an account. Once that’s done, and the headphones themselves are charged, hold down the power button on the control unit to enter pairing mode, and they should be detected automatically. In our tests, pairing was simple and worked seamlessly. We never had any trouble getting the Nightbuds to connect on subsequent occasions, either.
They are comfortable to sleep in, whether you like lying on your back or your side, and unlike some similar devices, the Nightbuds didn’t come loose and weren’t dislodged when we turned over at night – something that can probably be attributed to the silicone prongs on the earpieces.
Unlike the Bose Sleepbuds or Amazfit Zenbuds, however, the Kokoon Nightbuds don’t come with a charging case so you can keep them powered up, so you’ll need to plug them in to charge regularly. You can, however, help them retain their charge longer by enabling battery saving mode, which pauses audio and powers the headphones off when they’re removed. It’s easy to forget to hit the button after taking them out in the morning, so toggling this on is a wise precaution.
If you’re just interested in learning more about your sleep, the Withings Sleep Analyzer may be a better choice. This is a thin mat that slips under your mattress, and tracks your sleeping patterns every night automatically with no need to configure or wear anything; just set it up once, then forget about it and your sleep stats will be synced with your phone automatically every morning.
Similarly, if you just want sound then a white noise machine or under-pillow speaker would be worth considering.
The Kokoon app gives you an impressive choice of ambient sounds to choose from, and because it’s all streamed from your phone rather than loaded onto the buds themselves (like with the Amazfit Zenbuds), you don’t have to decide what you want to listen to. to in advance. Just swipe through the various options until you find something that appeals.
There’s nothing as esoteric as Amazfit’s snoring kitten sound effect, but there are plenty of variations on the rain theme (pattering on an umbrella, a pavement, a lake, a window, and more), plus a cracking campfire, whistling wind, and crashing surf. You can also opt for pink, white, or brown noise, which we tend to lean towards. Whichever sound you pick, you can choose to keep it playing continuously until morning, or gently fade out once the buds detect that you’ve nodded off.
The app also provides an impressive library of music (gentle, abstract synth scores that don’t distract you with beats or recognizable patterns), meditation, and ‘storyscape’ sessions – the latter of which are much like the Sleep Stories found in the Calm app, but without the subscription fee. These can be combined with your preferred ambient audio for an extra relaxing effect, and the meditation sessions give the Kokoon Nightbuds extra appeal during the daytime.
They can’t give feedback on whether you’re effectively controlling your breathing or maintaining good posture like the Muse 2 headband, but when you’re spending this much on a device, it’s refreshing to see that it has multiple uses. We also appreciated the ability to listen to sounds and meditation sessions through regular headphones or your phone’s speaker, which can be useful if ambient noise helps you concentrate at work.
There are also short coaching sessions that help you understand the biology of sleep, but these are more like short informative podcasts and aren’t intended to help you relax.
All narrators are British, and it’s worth noting that some of the content is decidedly British as well. For example, one storyscape is an imaginary version of the shipping forecast that plays on BBC Radio 4 each night. It’ll be relaxing and familiar for many listeners in the UK, but in other territories it’ll be thoroughly confusing to hear a weather forecast for the seas surrounding the UK.
Like most sleep trackers, the Kokoon Nightbuds will give you a sleep score every morning, but this is simply based on how long you spent awake after settling down for the night, compared to how long you were asleep. It doesn’t factor in sleep stages, though these are shown on a pie chart underneath.
Tapping the sections of this chart will present you with a short sentence explaining the purpose of that particular sleep stage (light, deep, REM, and awake), but you won’t get a detailed analysis. There’s no advice on whether you spent a suitable period of time in each stage, or how you can improve it in the future,
Sleep analysis isn’t super detailed, and you won’t get as much data as you would from a fitness tracker or running watch, but we appreciated the ability to track trends over time, which allows you to see the impact of changing your sleep. clothes. You’ll also get some generic tips in the ‘Insights’ section, which can help improve your sleep hygiene (things like getting to bed on time, which can have a dramatic effect on the duration of your sleep).
Overall, the lack of depth in sleep tracking is our only real complaint with the Kokoon Nightbuds. Crafting a set of headphones that can be worn comfortably at night while remaining in place is no mean feat, and coupled with the wide range of relaxing noises, stories and tutorials, it’s an impressive package.
Nothing has been confirmed, but we have a hunch that Kokoon may be planning to roll out more detailed sleep analysis for subscribers, who currently get a lifetime warranty but few other goodies in exchange for their annual payments. We’ll update this review as and when that happens
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This article is part of TechRadar’s Sleep Week 2022 (running from Sunday 13 to Saturday 19 March), a week-long celebration of all things slumber. We’ll be bringing you proven techniques and tips to help you sleep better, and have rounded-up all the top-rated tech to transform your sleep.