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Bose Sleepbuds Review: This is What Sweet Dreams Are Made of

For all the apprehensions intertwined with the hope when we first saw the Bose Sleepbuds, the experience all this while has been nothing short of excellent.

Vishal Mathur | @vishalmathur85

Updated:February 5, 2019, 2:00 PM IST
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Bose Sleepbuds Review: This is What Sweet Dreams Are Made of
For all the apprehensions intertwined with the hope when we first saw the Bose Sleepbuds, the experience all this while has been nothing short of excellent.
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“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night,” the words of English poet and painter, William Blake. But if the final link in the chain, the sleep isn’t satisfactory, then there could be a problem. One of my biggest complaints I have about life in general is that my sleep never really feels enough. I tend to sleep light, the sleep gets broken often every night, and have the bad habit of waking up feeling more tired than I was when my head hit the pillow the night before. What has not helped are the rather noisy surroundings, which includes a cacophonous cocktail of vehicular traffic, humans in nearby apartments speaking loudly, some animals making their presence felt and more. Incomplete sleep, or less than perfect quality of sleep is acceptable occasionally, but on a regular basis, it only leads to problems such as persistent headaches during the day, coupled with less than pleasant mood.

Which is exactly why my hopes skyrocketed when Bose sent me the Sleepbuds, which the hope that this might help get my sleep quality on track.

Most technology and gadgets are designed to keep us captivated when we are awake. Incidentally, technology hasn’t really bothered much about putting us to sleep, has it? Perhaps good earphones help in lulling you to sleep with some good tunes playing in your ear, but that’s pretty much it. Nevertheless, course correction could be on the way. The Bose Sleepbuds, as the name might already suggest, is designed to help you fall asleep, and in a way, sleep better too. These rather unique earbuds are priced at Rs22,900. That is a price tag enough to give you sleepless nights, also considering this is a device that just does one thing.

Now having spent two full week nights with the Bose Sleepbuds, I am in a position to say that these really do work, at least for me. It doesn’t need to make a world of a difference, because even the slightest improvements to your quality of sleep will make a tremendous difference anyway.

The most critical thing about a wearable that you would wear through the night, or even for a certain amount of time, needs to blend in as well as possible. That has been a problem with most fitness bands that do sleep tracking for instance, and even wireless earphones that tend to hurt if you prefer sleeping on your side. The way Bose has designed the Sleepbuds, it seems to have gotten most things spot on. The earbuds may look a lot like the Bose earphones, but the Sleepbuds are extremely soft, light and comfortable to wear. You get multiple silicone StayHear+ Sleep tip size options as standard, which makes it simple to find one that fits best for your ear’s contours. The way the Sleepbuds have been designed, you wear them and twist them slightly inside the ear to lock them in place. And these stay in and don’t fall out once you wear them properly.

Bose has surely done a great job with the design and the softness of each Sleepbuds earbud. It you do have the habit of tossing and turning around quite a bit during your sleep, the Sleepbuds don’t ping or push back in your ear. I wore these for entire nights at a stretch too and didn’t once wake up because of discomfort or for simply even noticing that I was wearing earbuds while sleeping.

Remember though, the Bose Sleepbuds are not earphones for music playback, even though they may look like them. You cannot stream music through these, except the sounds from the Bose Sleep App (free for Android and iOS).

The Bose Sleep app is perhaps a good reference point to talk about the setup of the Bose Sleepbuds. When you do take the Sleepbuds out of the box packaging, what will emerge is a puck sized magnetic carry case, within which sit the Sleepbuds. These are two magnetic docks within this case, for each earbud. This case also has a built-in battery, which charges the Sleepbuds when you click them in place. Once you have downloaded the Bose Sleep app on your phone, you follow the on-screen instructions to set these up. The pairing process is quite simple, and this gives you access to a whole library of sounds. My favorite is Tranquility, though there are a lot more that you can choose from—the rustle of leaves, the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks or the sound of the forest at night as you may by a bonfire. You can also download a lot more from the collection, though do remember that they take a while to download—on our 100Mbps internet connection, it took about 55 minutes to download individual sound packages. The idea is to put these on download just before you hit the bed letting them download while you sleep.

If you are wearing the Sleepbuds snugly, it does block out the ambient noise quite nicely. And that is even before you tap on play to get the tunes rolling. There are no physical controls for volume, and you can control the audibility level from the phone app itself. there are two ways to get the tunes streaming to your ear. The first is to leave the Sleepbuds connected to your phone via Bluetooth, and play via the Bose Sleep app. There is also a phone-free mode, which you can configure from the app and then go ahead to switch off the phone. The tune you select for this mode will continue to play for the night, without needing phone connectivity.

You can also configure the Bose Sleepbuds to be active for specific intervals of time, depending on whether you need it to simply fall asleep, or need its calming influence to stay asleep the entire night.

To enable this convenience, the robust battery life is a critical pillar. The Sleepbuds last 16 hours of continuous use on a single charge, as per Bose’s estimates. The charging case on its part adds more, whether it be for juicing it up or fully charging completely discharged batteries. In our estimates, the Bose Sleepbuds still retain 45% charge after an 8-hour sleep cycle—nevertheless, you may still need to recharge this the next day, to ensure it doesn’t discharge completely at some point during the night.

You can also configure the alarm functionality to notify you through the Sleepbuds, which is quite handy if you don’t want to wake up your partner or a child sleeping in the same room at the crack of dawn.

For all this great utility, there is one feature that we sorely missed in the Bose Sleepbuds—the ability to track sleep quality. When even the most affordable fitness bands can integrate the sleep tracking feature to work one way or the other, surely Bose could consider that for the Sleepbuds.

For all the apprehensions intertwined with the hope when we first saw the Bose Sleepbuds, the experience all this while has been nothing short of excellent. This may be subjective totally, but the Sleepbuds worked for me. In fact, the very fact that I used these for a few days seems to have clicked my sleep routine back into some semblance of order—on the nights when I choose to not use the Sleepbuds. Everything about them is ticking off the usability boxes, such as the soft design, the slick app and the good battery life. You may still feel a bit apprehensive, considering the experience will depend from person to person, after you see the price tag. Yes, it costs a lot of money, and that perhaps reduces the willingness of risk taking. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bose Sleepbuds kickstart a whole new level of interest in the sleep wearables category, which quite frankly has been grossly neglected till now.
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