Reviews

Gadget review: Bose Sleepbuds help muffle noise that could keep you awake


BOSE SLEEPBUDS $250

Earphones help to muffle the noise

Tech gadgets have helped us work more productively and play more. But they have also exacerbated a problem: poor sleep.

But what happens if there is technology that actually helps you sleep?

Enter Bose Sleepbuds, a pair of earbuds to mask noise and help people doze off. The tiny wireless earphones fit snugly inside your ears and play soothing sounds, like the rustle of leaves or a crackling campfire, on a loop all night.

The Sleepbuds are part of a nascent category of sleep-tech products.

Those include sleep-monitoring wristbands and mattress pads from companies like Fitbit and Withings, and special lights that help you get out of bed from Philips and Verilux.

The verdict on Sleepbuds was mixed.

They are a solid piece of industrial design. A metal hockey-puck-shaped case, while not perfect, slides open to reveal the earbuds. The case holds each earbud in place with magnets. When you remove the earbuds, they turn on; when you clip the earbuds back onto the magnets, the case recharges their batteries.

This clever design is reminiscent of Apple’s AirPods, which also come in a carrying case that doubles as a charger.

The earbud modules are also extremely small — about the size of a pinkie fingertip. You insert them into silicone tips that go into your ear canal and tuck under your ear ridge. Bose provides three sizes.

Because the Sleepbuds were designed to muffle unwanted noise, they specifically play sounds like raindrops or a water stream.

There were only 10 sounds, but for earbuds this pricey, shouldn’t there be more than 10 tracks to choose from?

Brian Mulcahey, a director of Bose’s wellness products, said that to preserve battery life, the sound files are stored on the earbuds, which have limited storage, rather than streamed from a smartphone — hence the few options.

He added that in about a month, Bose would release more tracks that people would be able to load onto the earbuds, including sounds designed to help people ease their anxiety or fight insomnia.

If you buy the Sleepbuds, take notes on your sleep quality for a few weeks. Many people simply can’t sleep comfortably with objects inside their ears, so if these don’t work out for you, take advantage of the 30-day return policy.

NEW YORK TIMES

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