The Kokoon Nightbuds have one job to do, and that's to help you fall asleep easier and sleep better when you actually do. There's plenty to like, but these earbuds feel more like a promising start than a polished product.
- Comfortable fit
- Accurate sleep tracking
- Good app support
- Content sounds good
- Play your own content
- Nice carrying case
- Limited content library
- Sleep stats lack context
- Not ideal for music
- Need to charge it often
- Connectivity issues
Sound sleep sometimes needs sound to enter a state of unconsciousness. Anyone who struggles with sleep quality can attest to that and the frustration it brings because, let's face it, restful sleep comes with many benefits during waking hours. It's the kind of problem tech has been trying to solve for some time.
The Kokoon Nightbuds aren't just earbuds, they're sleep tracking earbuds that work with Kokoon's app to lull you into a slumber you can appreciate. There's no rocket science going on here, but rather a matter of execution and interpretation that stands out the most.
Kokoon Nightbuds: Price and availability
The Kokoon Nightbuds initially started as a Kickstarter project that grew to broader availability from December 2021. You can find them online now, starting from Kokoon's own website. The original price is $250, but you may find it as low as $180 whenever there's a sale or price drop. The Nightbuds only come in grey.
Kokoon Nightbuds: What's good
The Nightbuds' odd design owes a lot to how the sleep tracking actually works, which is to say that Kokoon embedded the sleep sensors in the earbuds themselves. While the buds are really small at a mere 5.4mm, the battery and much of the other tech is in the module that connects the two sides.
The squiggly cable is supposed to offer slack to accommodate as many heads and necks as possible. Naturally, you're supposed to feel comfortable — perhaps even more comfortable than you would with other earbuds. After all, you are going to wear these throughout the night and not really feel them. If they prematurely wake you up because of comfort issues, it's already a fail.
The key is to neither judge this book by its cover, nor assume that the first night or two will be a lasting indicator. I felt weird wearing them the first couple of nights, but after that, it was just easy. The smaller earbuds are very conducive to sleeping on either side, and back-sleepers shouldn't find the rear module pressing into their heads, either. I was pleasantly surprised at how feathery they felt.
There are multiple sizes for the tips, so getting a snug fit won't be hard, and the sheer length of the cables on either side all but assure you can wrap the Nightbuds around your head with ease.
So, how do the Nightbuds actually help you pass out? That's where the MyKokoon app comes in with its content library after you pair them with your phone. It splits them into two sections with four categories a piece. At first, you tell the app what you're feeling. It could be as simple as just going to sleep, or feeling anxious or disrupted sleep. Brighter Mornings is when you wake up and want to listen to a quick and short piece of content for a jolt to start the day.
The content itself is laid out under coaching, meditation, music, and storyscapes. They vary in duration. Some have voices, whereas others are melodic, and still others are purely about white noise or nature sounds. I tried a variety to get an idea, and always went back to beach waves, the sounds of crickets on a midnight porch, or a fireplace crackling away.
These are the standard soundscapes, though. The library content is stuff you can layer on top of those sounds, thereby creating a relaxing mix that can knock you out. You can also use your own audio, too. If you prefer something from Calm, Headspace, or even Spotify, just play it directly from any of those apps and it will play with the soundscape from MyKokoon. Kokoon even created its own playlists on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and other streaming audio apps.
What's cool is that the audio fades out as the sleep sensors catch that you've fallen asleep, and will either keep the soundscape/content you're playing or shift to white, brown, or pink noise to mask any ambient sounds that might interrupt your snoozing.
In fairness, I'm lucky in that I generally don't have any issues with sleep, but to test out the Nightbuds, I deprived myself of some sleep and changed some of my patterns and habits to make things more challenging that way.
You don't have to rely on the Nightbuds or MyKokoon to wake you up at your preferred time, but it can try. I found mixed results with that, and not every missed opportunity was because the sound or volume was off. It was because the battery ran out. The good news is I could set my phone's clock app to sound an alarm while using the buds.
Kokoon Nightbuds: What's not good
No matter what happens when you sleep or wake up, the sensors track it all and then give you a rundown on the app. That's all well and good, except the data doesn't say much about how you actually slept. The basics, like a sleep score, duration, and time to sleep are fine, except it's easy enough to find those from other devices.
Kokoon claims the sleep sensors in the earbuds are better than, say, the one on your wrist in your smartwatch. For me, the results I got weren't radically different from what I saw with the Fitbit Sense, for instance. It's what happens after that matters more to me. If the MyKokoon app tells me that I have great sleep efficiency and high consistency, how is that info important to improving my sleep quality?
Kokoon will throw in insights, like how getting up on time reduces the duration of sleep interruptions the next night by about 10 minutes. A pie chart shows how much a night's sleep was in REM, deep, light, or awake. Again, nicely laid out, but lacking context as to what it all means, and why or how to improve upon it.
I also ran into connectivity issues at times that would force me to either restart the app or power earbuds off and on again. This happened with more than one phone, so not an isolated case.
Another challenge here is the repetition. You may not care as much if you find a few favorites and stick with them, but the content library isn't especially deep. That matters when the sheer volume of stuff available in third-party apps only makes that more obvious.
Kokoon will likely expand on it, though it's not clear when or by how much. Playing your own preferred audio from other apps does help, though I wouldn't recommend the Nightbuds as your go-to for tunes during your waking hours. I like that they have mics for phone calls — super convenient if you're woken up by an incoming call — I just didn't feel they stood out for audio fidelity.
Then there's battery life. The Nightbuds are saddled by their very purpose, which is that they need to be on throughout your sleep cycle. Any pair of earbuds you wear while sleeping will come out in the morning with a depleted battery. I got two nights tops out of them before I had to plug them in to charge.
Unlike other earbuds, there is no charging case. Yes, there is a case, and it's nice, but it has no battery, so you would need to keep a USB-C cable handy to charge them every 48 hours. And that's just for what they do during sleep. Never mind if you're planning to use them for audio or calls on top of that.
Kokoon Nightbuds: Competition
When you look at the best wireless earbuds, you won't necessarily find a pair specializing in sleep. The general idea is for you to be awake when listening to tunes. Even so, there is real utility to helping people rest better, and companies have taken notice. The Bose Sleepbuds II are true wireless, yet also more singularly-focused because you can only listen to the audio the Bose Sleep app offers.
The sub-category is relatively new, which explains why other options aren't as readily available in retail. The Moonbow Bedphones and SoundOff Noise Masking Earbuds are out there if you want to buy them directly from their respective sites.
Kokoon Nightbuds: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if...
- You have trouble sleeping
- You want something comfortable in bed
- You can sleep in any position
- You have a partner who snores
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want active noise cancelation
- You want a lot more content
- You want more sleep stats and metrics
- You want something for music too
There is something admirable about a product that genuinely tries to make people's lives better, but doing so also sets the bar pretty high. The Kokoon Nightbuds get key things right, like the comfort, quality, and app support. It is more than possible to knock yourself out with them. It's just that you will also have to deal with limited content and less clarity on what the sleep tracking actually means.
That all matters even more because of what it costs to wear the Nightbuds. They are more premium, and aren't good enough to outright replace your music earbuds. If you're desperate for better sleep, they're worth a shot, but you will also have to deal with the quirks that come with them.
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.
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