The idea of headphones just for sleep seems a bit of an extravagance. The idea of spending €350 on headphones for sleep seems even more of one. But Kokoon Sleep Headphones are trying to be a little more than that.
The headphones are not just for sleep but also relaxation, linking up with an app that offers guided meditation, programmes to help get you to sleep and soundscapes to mask background noise. Whenever you want to get a bit of relaxation or meditation in, you simply pop on the headphones, fire up the app and pick your programme. That could be at night before going to sleep, at home when you have a few minutes to yourself, or on the commute to work – when we have a commute to work again.
Kokoon customises itself to your individual needs. It learns what relaxes you, and using built-in sensors it monitors your sleep to see how well the different programmes have relaxed you.
The headphones are the overhead band style, with flatter than standard headphone ear cups. According to Kokoon, they are designed for “ultimate comfort” so there’s a decent bit of padding in that headband. They are noise cancelling too to help out with any distractions. They also have some sensors built in – EEG brainwave sensors, motion sensors, disturbance sensing – that will help monitor your relaxation.
But while the headphones are great to have, the real power of Kokoon headphones is in the app. The app is where all the insights come from, and where you will be able to see all your sleep data from your night-time sessions. It has everything you need to catch a bit of relaxation, from the guided programmes to music sessions that are all designed to make you feel more mellow – and that is something we could all use right now.
I’m not really one for using meditation apps long term, but the Kokoon app had enough variety to keep me interested for longer than normal. Crackling campfires are nice to relax too, and the different music sessions helped to relax me.
The headphones detect when you’ve fallen asleep and switch over to white noise, gradually fading the audio out and the white noise in. It’s a clever trick, and it’s an effective one.
Wearing the headphones to sleep takes a bit of getting used to. Kokoon recommends sleeping on your back on a deep pillow, which wasn’t a natural sleeping position for me. But trying to sleep on my side was practically impossible, because the headphone earcups pushed away from my head. So back sleeping it was, with all the associated snoring dangers, and on with the gentle breathing guided meditation before I drifted off to sleep.
One tip: you can add background noise to the guided programmes, such as autumn rain or beach waves. I would recommend doing this, as otherwise you are gentle-breathing away in the silence, and then getting a fright every time the instructor breaks in to move you on to the next breathing exercise. It is less jarring when there is a gentle pitter patter of rainfall in the background.
The headphones are comfortable to wear, but inevitably with any banded headphones, you begin to feel the pressure. With Kokoon, it wasn’t as bad as normal, but it wasn’t completely absent either.
What about wearing them to sleep? The average time I lasted wearing the headphones before drifting off was about half an hour, and they inevitably came off as I moved around in the night. If they do come off while you are asleep, sensors inside the headphones will automatically shut the power off after 15 minutes so your headphones won’t use all their battery life unnecessarily.
Once you’ve done a sleep programme you can see your sleep data too, with sessions over two hours getting data on stages. It can be quite illuminating to see how your night’s sleep goes based on wearing a set of headphones.
Over time, Kokoon starts to make recommendations on what the best audio is to help you sleep, and suggests techniques to help you get some quality rest in. The more you use it, the smarter it gets.
The headphones are reasonably comfortable and sound good when you are playing your regular music. If you are travelling you can also use one of Kokoon’s programmes designed to help take the stress out of your trip. Otherwise, it’s guided meditation and deep breathing to a bit of tranquillity. The extra information that you get from the sensors in the Kokoon headphones might give you enough data that makes it worth the purchase.
The not so good
Do you really need a specific set of headphones for sleep, or will a guided meditation app do? The Kokoon headphones are more comfortable, and they have a bit of extra technology but if you already have a decent set of bluetooth headphones and a smartwatch with a sleep tracker, you may find the same effect with a significantly cheaper relaxation app.
You can use the Kokoon headphones for listening to your regular music; they aren’t just designed for sleep. The battery life is decent too, so you’ll get a few hours out of a single charge. The headphones take a multifaceted approach to cutting down on outside noise: noise isolating, through the padded ear cups; active noise cancellation, which works quite well to help cut out, for example, a snoring partner; and white/pink/brown noise, to dull anything else that may try to seep in.
If you are in the market for a set of multifunctional headphones and want to focus on your mental wellbeing, Kokoon will get the job done.