Tech Can Hurt Our Sleep. So I Tried Bose Sleepbuds for Help.


The earbud modules are also extremely small — about the size of a pinkie fingertip. You insert them into silicone tips that go into your ear canal and tuck under your ear ridge. Bose provides three sizes, and I used the small eartips.

The Sleepbuds are noise-masking — not noise-canceling — earbuds. Noise-canceling earphones eliminate low-frequency noises, like the engine of an airplane, but they don’t cancel out loud noises like a snorer next to you or a screaming baby. Noise masking involves playing a background noise that helps your brain stop paying attention to unwanted sounds.

Limited software, with more to come

Because the Sleepbuds were designed to muffle unwanted noise, they specifically play sounds like raindrops or a water stream. There were only 10 sounds, none of which I loved. I ended up choosing the raindrops track, which did a fine job drowning out noise from my pets.

But for earbuds this pricey, shouldn’t there be more than 10 tracks to choose from?

Brian Mulcahey, a director of Bose’s wellness products, said that to preserve battery life, the sound files are stored on the earbuds, which have limited storage, rather than streamed from a smartphone — hence the few options. He added that in about a month, Bose would release more tracks that people would be able to load onto the earbuds, including sounds designed to help people ease their anxiety or fight insomnia.

“We’re hearing from many, many customers that this is a very common problem,” Mr. Mulcahey said about mental issues preventing sleep.

A pricey experiment

In the end, I recommend trying the Sleepbuds if you have sleep problems — with many caveats.

Before considering Sleepbuds, try to determine what is preventing you from sleeping. Experts said a plethora of problems contributed to slumber deprivation, including noise, mental or physical health problems, and diet. And even if noise is your No. 1 culprit and you buy the Sleepbuds, take notes on your sleep quality for a few weeks. Many people simply can’t sleep comfortably with objects inside their ears, so if these don’t work out for you, take advantage of the 30-day return policy.

For me, I’m lucky if I sleep longer than six hours a night without interruptions. With the Sleepbuds, I continued getting an average of about five and a half hours of sleep a night.

I kept a sleep diary and found that I often woke at around 3 or 4 a.m. The common culprits: anxiety about future events, queasiness from something I ate or my cat’s jumping on my chest. So thanks, Sleepbuds, but tech probably isn’t my solution.



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