Kokoon Nightbuds for a good night’s sleep
April 30, 2022
Trying to get a good night’s sleep is something many people continually strive for. Pressure, anxiety of the times, late nights and Netflix-binging likely don’t help their cause.
For Tim Antos, this was no different. His work-related insomnia was so severe he required the services of a sleep clinic. Realizing that this was not accessible or convenient for everyone, he embarked on a quest, and along with a fellow engineer, came up with a sleep solution – the Nightbuds earbuds, by London, U.K.-based Kokoon.
Smart earbuds designed for sleep
Nightbuds are fully functional earbuds, but unlike others they’re smart and designed for sleep time. When used in conjunction with a mobile device and the MyKokoon companion iOS or Android app, they help you fall asleep, protect your sleep from disturbances and help manage your sleep wellness.
They look unique and connect via Bluetooth 5.0 to your device, but the earbuds themselves are not totally wireless. Each bud connects to a purposefully and cleverly shaped malleable cable to a control module that sits behind your neck – like wearing a mini fanny pack. You loop each one over your ear and snuggly insert the soft silicone buds. Amazingly, they can be worn all night without falling out, and are comfortable even when sleeping on your side.
By moving some of the electronics to the module behind the neck, they’ve been able to design the buds to be a mere six mm thick, about one-third the size of a typical pair. After a few nights, you’ll hardly notice them on.
Nightbuds have built-in sensors, like those found in devices such as an Apple Watch or Fitbit, that gather info and monitor your sleep. They can even tell when you doze off for the night. The PPG sensor can measure blood flow signals, and the accelerometer can detect your movement at night. Within the earbuds themselves is a built-in heart rate monitor, which gives extremely accurate information, as it’s sensing very close to your carotid artery.
Being able to monitor what’s going on when you’re not awake can help you better understand your sleep and help you sleep better. The app produces a daily summary and sleep analysis, which includes data on how efficiently you slept, how long it took to fall asleep, length and type of sleep (light, REM or deep) and awake time. Sleep coach technology also offers tips on how you can improve your sleep quality.
Works with any audio
Helping you fall asleep typically starts with music, or audio to a TV program. The app is compatible with most of your favourite music services, such as Apple Music, Spotify, Audible, YouTube and even specialty apps such as Calm & Headspace. Kokoon also has its own library of selections, albeit limited. It has curated playlists, for example, for when you’re trying to fall asleep, get back to sleep after being disturbed or are feeling anxious. The library includes sleep sounds such as coloured noise, meditations and even binaural soundscapes for an immersive experience and more. Some range from a few minutes to two hours. They can also be looped for continuous play.
What makes Nightbuds really shine is the ability to configure them to fade out and pause the audio once it senses you’ve fallen asleep. Or, even better, it can crossfade the audio out to protective coloured noise that can continue to play throughout the night to mask outside disturbances. The passive noise-blocking audio seal also helps outside noise from coming in.
Coloured noise, as Kokoon refers to it, can be either white, pink or even brown. Yes, this was news to me. Generated white noise (the most common), often referred to as static, contains sound from every frequency we can hear. Pink noise for some can be more relaxing, and the volume of the higher frequencies are reduced. Brown noise reduces them even further, yielding a deeper and an almost roaring wind sound which may work better for some and may just drown out their partner’s snoring.
Kokoon Nightbuds are well thought-out and are much better than I anticipated in improving my sleep quality. And anything that can help me sleep better is a good thing. The auto shut-off and coloured noise generation with its own volume control are invaluable – although I’m still trying to fine-tune my personal settings.
Other handy features include a built-in mic, so you can make and receive calls. Nightbuds will also power off automatically when the earbuds are removed.
The built-in 100mAH battery rated at 10-plus hours. Depending on use, (I use about 55 to 60 per cent per night), you may need to charge Kokoon every day. Two full days of power would be nice. I suspect the smaller battery was to keep the unit small and light.
The control module has three simple button controls (volume, pairing and power) that protrude slightly at the top, but are small enough to not add extra bulk, but large enough and spaced apart just enough to be able to control while it’s around the back of your neck. They stayed on nicely and didn’t seem to interfere with the mask and hose from my CPAP machine I wear every night, as long as I put them in first.
The data provided is not as in-depth as what you might find on a FitBit, but enough to help you with your sleep management – especially knowing how long it took to fall asleep. In all fairness, this is a new product, and the features are constantly being updated.
The Kokoon Nightbuds come with a carry case, four pairs of various sized tips and a stubby USB-C charging cable. They retail in Canada for $329, although I have seen promos for with deals ranging from 20 to 40 per cent off. Kokoon offers free shipping, a 30-day trial and a two-year warranty.
About Greg Gazin
Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger and podcaster, and has been a contributor to Active Life Magazine since 2016. He also contributes to canoe.com and Troy Media. gadgetguy.ca