Kokoon Nightbuds Review – Sleep earbuds for side sleepers

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Kokoon Nightbuds Review Rating

Summary

The Kokoon Nightbuds have the potential to be the best sleeping earbuds by a considerable margin, but they are let down by a buggy app, high price and subscription requirements. Flaws and all, I’d still recommend them if you struggle with sleep,

Overall
70%
70%
  • Comfort - 90%
    90%
  • App - 60%
    60%
  • Price - 60%
    60%

Pros

  • Excellent comfort for a side sleeper
  • When the app isn't being buggy, the audio tracks are useful for getting to sleep

Cons

  • Buggy app
  • Expensive and requires a subscription

I am awful at sleeping. I am a very light sleeper, and the tiniest of noises wake me up, and I am prone to anxiety and palpitations when I try to get to sleep.

Nowadays, I am fit and healthy; I also practice good sleep hygiene. I have also reviewed a variety of products to improve my sleep and experimented with all the drugs I can get my hands on.

The Kokoon Nightbuds have two appealing aspects to them for me. Sound blocking earbuds that are suitable for side sleepers and a variety of meditation exercises and white noise for those times I struggle to get to sleep. As an added bonus, you get sleep analysis, but I already have a Garmin Fenix 6 for that and a Withings Sleep Analyzer mat.

Specification

  • Premium audio
    • Balanced armature type drivers
  • Features
    • Volume control buttons
    • Voice call microphone
    • Silicone earbud tip size options
  • Connectivity
    • Bluetooth 5.0
    • USB-C charging port
  • Battery
    • Lithium ion technology
    • 100mAh capacity
    • 10+ hour battery life
  • Sleep Tracker
    • In-ear optical heart rate sensor
    • Monitoring heart rate
    • Monitoring heart rate variability

Set-Up and App

You will need to download the MyKokoon app and sign up to an account. It will guide you through the set-up process, but you essentially have to pair the headphones up like any other Bluetooth headphone. When off, hold down the power until it informs you it is in pairing mode, then pair up.

You can then set up your profile which is basically the times your go to sleep and wake.

Then can either play your own audio like a normal pair of Bluetooth headphones, or you can select one of the many built-in audio options,

App Audio Problems

The first time I tried these, I ran into an immediate problem with audio stuttering. Then I saw a lot of poor app reviews with several users confirming this is a common problem.

One user states:

If you open the app, then go and use audio in a different app, then come back to the app, the sound stutters, and you have to disconnect to fix it every time.

Which pretty much summed up my problem.

It is a bit concerning because the company seems to be expecting that users will be willing to pay a subscription fee to use the app, but over 40% of users have rated the app one or two stars.   

Comfort

The stand out feature of these earbuds is the physical design, and this redeems them from many of the various other issues. It has been reported that 74% of people sleep on their side, so you'd expect this would be the focus when designing sleep earbuds.

Other brands have gone two different routes:

  • A headband which is comfortable for side sleeping but won't block out as much noise (and I am sure it would make my head overheat).
  • Or True wireless earbuds, which, when you think about it, is a flawed design, you literally have to contain all the electronics in the earbud, inevitably making it more uncomfortable than necessary for side sleeping.

Kokoon took an old fashioned approach and wired Bluetooth earphones but then engineered everything to be as flat as possible. I am not saying this is a flawless design, but it appears to be the best design by a considerable margin.

Kokoon claims that the thickness in your ear is just 5.4mm while Bose Sleepbuds are 12.7mm.

The end result is something that is relatively comfortable to sleep with on your side. I find that the earbuds are barely noticeable when I try and go to sleep; they certainly don't cause discomfort. However, when I inevitably wake up, I do have some achiness. It is a similar sort of ache I get from wearing earbuds for too long in general; not painful, but I always have to take them off when I wake.

Meditation / White Noise

One thing I haven't put enough effort into when trying to improve my sleep is meditation, which is probably one of the most effective methods of improving sleep.

I still haven't, and I don't particularly like the spoken sleep guides; someone talking to me as I try to sleep is annoying.

I do, however, like the white noises, I think the Drift track was my preferred option, which provided a calming effect and didn't have any irregular or high pitched notes that would irritate me.

It is worth noting that there is some static white noise from the earphones. This is common amongst most earphones and speakers, normally, ambient noise or whatever you are listening to blocks this out.

However, putting these on in a nice quiet bedroom made me notice it; it's like very mild tinnitus. The only issue here is that if you wake up in the night with the audio off, you may experience this tinnitus like sensation, which could be annoying, and one of the reasons people use white noise tracks in the first place.

Sleep Analysis

Unfortunately, due to my cursed sleeping, I was unable to successfully test the sleep analysis as I always take the earphones off at some point in the night as I usually wake after my first sleep cycle.

Looking at other reviews, it appears that sleep tracking is basic and can be hit or miss with the sync.

I assume other people will be like me and take this off during the night, so for anyone that does that, it is going to be highly inaccurate.

Sleep tracking in general across the industry is quite poor and prone to irregular readings, so it is not something I bother focusing on much. Most wearables will do a passable job, if you don't already have one, I'd recommend something like the Honor Band 6 for an affordable option. Alternatively, the dedicated under-mattress Withings Sleep Analyzer is also an excellent option.

Expensive Subscription Pricing

Earbuds for Sleep - Kokoon Nightbuds - In-Ear Headphones -...
  • SLEEP HEADPHONES: Escape into a Kokoon with...
  • ADAPTIVE AUDIO: Our Nightbuds have been designed...
  • NOISE MASKING: Kokoon ensures you can switch off...
  • UNIQUE COMFORT: The Nightbuds are Kokoon’s new...

The Kokoon Nightbuds work on a sort of subscription-based model; it is a bit odd, really.

You can pay annually for £169.99 and currently 20%, so £135.99 or an upfront purchase, which is technically just two years, for £229.99, currently discounted to £207.

They are just Bluetooth earbuds, so if you didn't want to use the Kokoon app and use something else, they should still work.

On the Amazon page, they provide a bit more information, and I assume this only applies to the more expensive upfront model. After two years, you'll be eligible for free next-generation Nightbuds if you renew. Alternatively, without a new device, it will be £4.99/mo.

I don't see why they can't charge a flat fee, then after a year's worth of free app access, try and charge the fiver per month (not that I particularly approve of this),

However, I regularly state you can't put a price on improved health and good sleep, so if these do work for you, then they are not bad value for money.

Alternative Options

Kokoon has a nice little graphic comparing themselves to a couple of the main alternative options.

As critical as I have been towards Kokoon, I am not entirely sure any of the below stand out as significantly superior options.

  • 1MORE ComfoBuds Z for £90
    • These are basically just lightweight earbuds, there is also an app with 30 soothing sounds, and you play your own audio.
  • Bose Sleepbuds II for £219 or £190 currently on Bose
    • A similar price to the Kokoon Nightbuds but no additional fees for using the app, however, there is no option to play any other audio, which is a bit weird.
  • QuietOn 3 Earbuds
    • These are a bit different. They don't connect to your phone, but they do provide active noise cancelling. They have a thin design, and if you just want noise-blocking these are possibly the best on the market.
  • SleepPhones v7 for £80
    • These are designed for side sleepers and will be more comfortable, but the headband design won't block out as much noise as in-ear earbuds

Depending on what you want from sleep earbuds, you could go with a normal pair of earplugs to block out sound. I personally like the Loop earbuds because the loop design makes them easier to get out of your ear.

Overall

I have mixed feelings towards the Kokoon Nightbuds. I don't have a lot of experience with sleep earbuds, but these do appear to have the best overall design if you are a side sleeper, which most people are. The slimline design is unrivalled from what I can tell, and this could well be worth the price itself.

I did find that the white noise tracks helped with my sleep, and I like the 20-minute timer. So there is plenty of potential there.

I didn't have much luck with sleep tracking, but I think that was inevitable with my poor sleep.

However, the app is buggy which is not what you want for something that is running while you try and fall asleep.

The pricing model is bizarre and, in my opinion, overpriced, made worse by the fact that over 40% of reviewers think the app is awful.  

Overall, I think the company are on to a winner with the overall hardware, but they seriously need to rethink the subscription-based pricing and if they are going to make people pay to use the app, at least make a good app.

Last update on 2022-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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