Bose’s Noise-masking ‘Sleepbuds’ Are a Game-changer for Travelers
Say "goodbye" to waking up from car horns or your seatmate's snoring.
Editor's Note: Bose discontinued its Sleepbuds in October 2019.
There’s nothing worse than spending a night tossing and turning on vacation because you can’t fall asleep. Let’s face it — most of us are high maintenance when it comes to our ideal sleeping environment. (We know you must have your hotel-quality bed sheets!) While being out of your comfort zone when traveling means you’re experiencing new things, sacrificing a good night's rest is hard to justify when you have to go on a long walking tour in Europe the next day or have already lost some Zs thanks to jet lag.
If you’re like me and need to have some sort of background noise to fall asleep even while on the go, it’s sometimes rare to find the ideal amount of white noise in hotels. While I could use an iPhone app to help me fall into a deep sleep faster, I’m now officially obsessed with Bose’s Sleepbuds and won’t travel without them. After just one night of use, I knew this was the tech gadget for traveling I had been missing.
Bose Noise Masking Sleepbuds
To buy: amazon.com, $249
The Bose Sleepbuds look like regular headphones, but they only play soothing sounds and music — 20 different sleep tracks with the option to download more. What makes the Bose Sleepbuds so innovative and different than other wireless headphones, however, is their design. They are super lightweight and tiny in size (each bud weighs 1.4 grams and measures just over 1 centimeter), so they are super comfortable and fit seamlessly into your ear — you won’t even feel them if you’re a side sleeper. Plus, the sleep tracks mirror the frequencies of the most common nighttime noises and hide them beneath a layer of relaxing audio, which means the sound tracks are already better than any sleep playlist you’ve ever made.
The buds are completely controlled by the Bose Sleep smartphone app, where you can choose your ideal track (including streams, waterfalls, airplane white noise, leaves rustling, and more), set alarms, control the volume, and set how long you want the music to play. Included with the buds is a sleek case that not only holds your buds but charges them for up to 16 hours of use. The buds also include three different sizes of the noise-isolating StayHear+ Sleep tips, so you can choose the size that fits your ear best.
While initially testing them, I had three main concerns: 1. They wouldn’t be comfortable 2. They would fall out overnight, and 3. I wouldn’t hear the alarm because I’m such a deep sleeper. But since wearing them for several weeks, they’ve stayed in my ears all night, they’ve never irritated my ears while sleeping on my side, and the alarm’s tone has been loud enough to gently wake me in the mornings — just be prepared to only be able to hit snooze via your phone. If you don’t need to wear them every night, they also work great in situations where you’re sleeping upright, like on a bus or plane, and need to block out unwanted noise.
The sleepbuds have worked so well for me that I also got my mom a pair. They’re a daily sleep game-changer for her since she’s struggled with two sleeping dilemmas over the years: My dad’s constant snoring and trying to fall asleep in silent hotel rooms (she’s a flight attendant, sleeping in constantly changing environments).
And with more than 1,200 five-star reviews on Amazon, most customers use them to mask their partner’s snoring and have said they make all the difference by completely blocking out the sound. The only down side some customers note is these buds don’t play your own music — you can only listen to the preset tracks that Bose has provided. But having the buds does eliminate the need to use your phone (and its battery) all night long or carry along some other sleep sound machine.
If you’re an incredibly light sleeper, a high-maintenance sleeper (like me), or a sleeper who can’t stand to hear your partner snore another second (like my mom), the Bose Sleepbuds are definitely worth the price — they’re essentially an investment in your sleep when traveling or not.