I’ve never been someone who can fall asleep in just any random circumstances. It needs to be the right temperature, with little to no light and, of course, comfortable. Don’t even get me started on trying to fall asleep in cars or on a plane — it’s just not happening, no matter how tired I am.
I prefer sleeping while it’s quiet, but sometimes you have to deal with the noise. Whether it’s construction work going on outside, dogs barking or, dare I say, a snoring spouse. Or you can drown that out by wearing headphones or earbuds to bed, which comes with its own set of problems.
That is unless you’re wearing specially-designed headphones that are somehow comfortable regardless of whether you’re a back or side sleeper. Yes, they exist — but are these SleepPhones worth it?
SleepPhones Effortless Bluetooth headband
Let me introduce the SleepPhones Effortless from Acoustic Sheep: a Bluetooth-equipped headband with two extremely thin speakers. They have (mostly) one job, and that’s to help you sleep more comfortably while wearing headphones.
That means you can listen to music, your favorite podcasts or ambient noises without waking up looking for your now-missing wireless earbuds or, worse, in pain. And it’s actually not a complicated design.
I tested the SleepPhones Effortless, which consists of a fleece headband (95% polyester, 5% spandex), a rechargeable Bluetooth module and two cloth-enclosed speakers. All the parts are accessible from the backside of the headband through a velcro enclosure.
That module can wirelessly connect to a smartphone, tablet or computer with a range of 15-30 feet away and can last about 10 hours on a single charge. The version I tried is called Effortless because it uses an induction charging method that doesn’t require you to remove the module. It wasn’t exactly “effortless,” but more on that soon.
Getting to know the SleepPhones
Regardless of battery level, when something new arrives, I’m a big fan of charging whatever it is completely before using it for the first time. There wasn’t much to the SleepPhones or charger, so I thought it would be pretty easy to get the process started.
And it was easy to charge the SleepPhones, after about the seventh or eighth try of getting the module perfectly lined up with the charger. It’s nice that you don’t have to remove the parts, but all that cloth also makes it hard to see what you’re trying to do in the first place.
Per the instruction manual, you simply lay the Effortless headband with the module onto the charging base. The module’s buttons have to be facing down, and the plug that connects to the speakers has to be opposite of the cable that connects to the charger. Sounds so simple, right? That’s sarcasm.
The first few times, I thought it was properly aligned, yet the light on the charger told me otherwise by blinking red. There were a couple of false starts where the light would briefly blink green (which is good) before quickly going red seconds later. When I finally had the two properly connected, I still checked back every few minutes to make sure the light was still blinking green.
Fast forward, where you have the solid green light that indicates charging is complete. I powered the Bluetooth module on by holding down the center button for a few seconds until that, too, started blinking red, then opened the Bluetooth settings on my iPhone to pair it. It quickly discovered the device and took seconds to connect.
Do the SleepPhones help this side-sleeper?
Now it’s time to actually try the SleepPhones for, you know, sleep. Don’t just put on the headband and start playing your favorite spring rain or other white noise — take a minute to make a few adjustments before laying down.
Like the Bluetooth module, the speakers just kind of hang out inside the headband, so you need to adjust their location to line up with your ears. That also takes a little fine-tuning, but it only took me a couple of minutes to get the speakers in the right spots.
The headband in designed to go across your forehead, over your ears (obviously) and down near the base of your skull. That’s where the module hangs out and I wondered if that would be a problem when I laid down on my back.
Actually, I didn’t feel it. Yes, I was very aware I was wearing a fleece headband but didn’t feel any parts protruding or making me uncomfortable. That includes when I turned to my side, which is usually the position I sleep through most of the night.
So I opened the Apple Music app on my iPhone, found a playlist for calming ambient music and assumed the position. I could hear the soft music but couldn’t feel the speakers it was coming out of, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for. Something to note: these headphones do not have noise cancellation.
What I liked and what I didn’t care for
After wearing these SleepPhones for a few nights, the results were pretty much the same: no discomfort, the battery lasted the whole night and the speakers stayed in place inside the headband. And for speakers that really don’t look like much, the sound quality was actually far better than I expected.
That’s the good news. My biggest gripe about this particular model is the charging method, although it did get easier as days went by.
The only other thing that I didn’t care for was the material. Remember, this is fleece covering your ears and it gets a little warm. While some folks might appreciate that extra warmth, I do not, but it didn’t keep me up at night, either.
Are these SleepPhones worth it?
A big consideration for any purchase will often be the price, and the SleepPhones Effortless shouldn’t be considered an impulse buy. Because of the induction charging feature, Effortless retails for $149.95.
Yes, you can find similar products with mixed reviews, including some that double as a sleeping mask. I haven’t tried any of those, but I can say this is a premium product actually designed by a doctor to help patients sleep. That’s why I think the SleepPhones are worth it, even with the higher price point, if you have trouble sleeping.
Personally, I would opt for the SleepPhones Wireless. It’ll save you the headache of getting the headband and charger to line up, and you’ll save $50 in the process. Besides, you still have to take the module and speakers out to wash the headband once in a while… or at least you should.
A few other things …
Because the SleepPhones are so small, they can also come with you on trips or use as you take a stroll around the neighborhood. Since they lack noise cancellation, you shouldn’t have to worry about not hearing traffic coming your way as long as you don’t turn them up too loud.
You can choose from three different sizes, although the medium is supposed to fit most people. It did in my case, but check the sizing chart before ordering to avoid a headband that’s too tight or too loose, which could allow the speakers to move around during the night. And if fleece isn’t your thing, you can opt for the thinner Breeze Fabric.
And the last thing: while the battery will last up to 10 hours, set aside 3 hours to allow it to recharge if fully drained.
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