The world’s thinnest sleep headphones help you fall and stay sound asleep – and effectively track your slumber too
- Comfortable to wear
- Support Bluetooth streaming
- Useful sleep stats
- Slightly fiddly buttons
- Fairly expensive
- Short battery life
If the Philips Sleep Headphones with Kokoon look familiar, that’s because they’re an updated version of the Kokoon Nightbuds we reviewed last year.
They’ve received a few design tweaks, including the obligatory Philips rebranding, and Kokoon has been working hard to iron out some of the issues that affected its sleep-tracking app. But their aims remain the same – to help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and provide useful information about your sleeping patterns.
Philips Sleep Headphones with Kokoon review: What you need to know
Tech start-up Kokoon has been in the sleep tech trade since 2015, developing its own app and hardware after its founder struggled to switch off at night. The UK-based company released the over-ear Kokoon Relax Sleep Headphones in 2019 after a successful Kickstarter campaign and brought out a second-generation model the following year.
It built on the success of those headphones by bringing the significantly more compact in-ear Nightbuds to market in early 2022 and it’s those buds that the Philips Sleep Headphones with Kokoon are based on.
The Philips Sleep Headphones with Kokoon combine Philips’ expertise in the headphones industry with Kokoon’s prowess when it comes to delivering products to help monitor and improve your slumber. They’re able to mask environmental noise using a range of in-app options, stream audio over Bluetooth, provide data on how well you slept, and offer valuable insight into how you can catch more Zs.
READ NEXT: The best noise-cancelling headphones
Philips Sleep Headphones with Kokoon review: Price and competition
The Philips Sleep Headphones are some of the most expensive sleep headphones on the market at £249. That gets you the headphones themselves, a handy carrying case and 12-month access to the Kokoon Premium app, which unlocks the headphones’ most important features. While that price seems steep, the Philips Sleep Headphones are far more advanced than most other headphones purporting to aid your ability to nod off.
Perhaps the most similar alternative on the market is the Sleep A10 from Chinese audio brand Anker Soundcore. Those earbuds can stream audio over Bluetooth and provide a selection of sleep aid resources in their companion app but take a less scientific approach to sleep monitoring.
American audio manufacturer Bose also had a couple of stabs at sleep headphones but discontinued the SleepBuds and SleepBuds II after they failed to reach the level of adoption the company had hoped.
There are plenty of affordable alternatives out there that seek to offer you a way to listen to audio in bed, including the SnoozeBand, which costs £40, or block out external noise, such as the £249 QuietOn Sleep Earbuds. The latter only offer active noise cancellation, however – they don’t allow you to listen to audio and can’t track your sleep.
Philips Sleep Headphones with Kokoon review: Design and features
Philips says its new Sleep Headphones have three big advantages over the competition: they’re extremely comfortable, offer great noise masking and can track sleep more accurately.
The sleep sensors are located in the earbuds (rather than on your wrist, as is the case with a lot of sleep-focused wearable tech), which Philips claims makes them more accurate. An infrared light shines on your skin, and optical heart-rate sensors and accelerometers built into the earbuds measure changes in blood flow.
This information is then used to calculate your beats per minute and heart rate variability and give an indication of your sleep quality. All that data is compiled in the Kokoon companion app, which displays various metrics including sleep quality, duration and efficiency.
If environmental noises are preventing you from sleeping – noisy neighbours or snoring partners perhaps – then this is where Philips says its noise masking is going to transform your slumber.
The headphones offer passive noise masking – the earbuds physically block out sound from your environment – but you can also use audio to further dampen the impact of the outside world. Here you have a choice: you can stream audio from third-party platforms such as Audible, Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Music and Headspace over Bluetooth or delve into a varied audio library within the Kokoon app. The app offers a wide range of audio files to choose from, including relaxing soundscapes, coloured noise and sleep stories.
That selection of audio aids would be redundant were the earbuds uncomfortable to wear but, like the Nightbuds before them, the Philips Sleep Headphones are designed in such a way that it’s easy to drift off with them in your ears.
Philips says they’re the thinnest sleep headphones in the world, and their slender dimensions mean that side sleepers won’t get earache when they rest their head on a pillow. The earpieces are designed to sit snugly in your ears, with little to no profile outside, and are connected around the back by a flexible wire, with a small panel that sits at the nape of your neck. That panel houses three control buttons via which you can play and pause audio, adjust volume and skip tracks.
READ NEXT: Best bone-conduction headphones
Philips Sleep Headphones with Kokoon review: Performance
I was impressed with the range of sleep data I got from the headphones, and the analysis correlated strongly to my experience overnight. It was interesting to see how quickly I fell asleep in the “Trends” section, and how that related to what I listened to or did before bed, and this allowed me to create a bedtime routine more conducive to sleep. The session timeline provided some fascinating insight too, allowing me to see how much of my time in bed was spent awake, in light, REM and deep sleep, and with the headphones off my head.
I also found the range of audio choices much better than other sleep headphones I’ve tested. Being able to listen to videos on my phone without disturbing my partner before bed was useful, and I liked having the option to listen to soundscapes, audiobooks and guided meditations. It was revealing to see which audio helped me sleep better via the sleep tracking feature and I used this information to adjust my bedtime routine accordingly.
One of the Philips Sleep Headphones’ cleverest features is their ability to have sound fade out when they detect you’ve fallen asleep. This was much appreciated as it prevented me from waking up to the discombobulating sound of the audiobook I’d been listening to the night before.
They won’t ever turn off entirely, however, as the buds need to remain powered on to properly track your sleep through the night. This, combined with a relatively short battery life of around 11 hours, means you’ll need to charge the headphones regularly. I was able to eke out three nights’ use from them but forgot to top them up on the fourth day, meaning I had to go cold turkey that evening. This isn’t a massive problem – they take around two hours to charge – but you’ll need to be regular and reliable at remembering to plug them in the morning.
My other minor gripe relates to the buttons on the unit itself. I found them a bit fiddly at times and reaching behind my head to access them took a bit of getting used to. That said, a lot of the time I didn’t need them, as I was able to control the earbuds perfectly well using the extremely easy-to-use app. Once I’d set a certain volume level and selected the content I wanted to listen to, I had little reason to engage with the physical controls.
And where the comfort of the headphones was concerned, I had no cause for complaint whatsoever. Regardless of whether I was sleeping on my back or my side, I found them very comfortable – at no point during testing did I wake up with any aches or pains and I was able to fall asleep consistently with the buds in my ears.
Philips Sleep Headphones with Kokoon review: Verdict
Despite already having a pair of sleep headphones, the Philips Sleep Headphones with Kokoon have now become my go-to choice for bedtime. They mask noise well enough to use without any audio playing, but I loved that I could listen to an audiobook or podcast of my choosing, or distract myself in the middle of the night when thoughts of work started racing around.
For this alone, I found they transformed my sleep, and I saw a decline in my anxiety around sleep too. The icing on the cake is their sleep tracking, which was at the very least interesting, and, when used to create an effective sleep environment, almost revolutionary.