Review: Bose noise-masking sleepbuds

Good sleep and constant travel usually don’t go very well together. On some trips, sleep consists of trying to catch a few hours on a lie-flat bed up front, and for others it could mean trying to do the same in the back of the plane in a seat with just enough leg room to open the tray table. Regardless of where you try to get your sleep, Bose recently released their first product specifically designed to help with sleep – the aptly named sleepbuds.

The Bose sleepbuds come in a handy little metal charging case with a sliding lid. Once opened, the buds can be lifted off their magnetic base, or placed back in, allowing the magnets to perfectly pull the buds onto their charging contacts.

The sleepbuds actually launched on crowdfunding site Indiegogo as a way for Bose to gauge interest in the product, and to get valuable feedback from the early adopters. That feedback clearly worked, because the sleepbuds are quite brilliant.

Inside the tiny sleepbuds is part noise canceling hardware, and part Bluetooth headset. Unlike the many “truly wireless” Bluetooth earpieces on the market today, you can’t use the sleepbuds like a normal pair of headphones, and all control is handed over to the new Bose sleep app (available for Android and iOS).

Inside the app are the instructions for the initial pairing of the sleepbuds, as well as instructions on how to wear them. The first thing you notice when you pull the buds out of their case is just how crazy tiny they are – in fact, they are at least half as small as a traditional pair of wireless earbuds. Inserting the buds is quite simple – hold them by the small extension, then place in your ear and push gently to create a good seal. Unlike most other earpieces, there is no need to rotate these to lock in place as they are so light that friction alone is enough to keep them in place.

Before we move on to the app, let’s discuss comfort, especially for those of you who prefer to sleep on your side. One of the best features of the Bose sleepbuds is that they are small enough to be worn and not interfere with your sleep if you lie with your ear turned onto your pillow (or airplane headrest). Even when you put a decent amount of pressure on your head, there is no point where the sleepbuds become uncomfortable. I’ve actually had several nights with the sleepbuds where I woke up and didn’t even remember putting them in, requiring several groggy minutes trying to figure out why I hear leaves rustling in my head…

Rustling leaves brings us to the app. The app is what allows you to manage pairing the sleepbuds to your phone, along with the ambient volume and whether or not to play one of the 12 sounds included as background noise. These sounds are the real magic of the buds, and without them they don’t really do much to help your sleep. If you’ve ever used a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones (and chances are you have), you’ll be sad to hear that the sleepbuds don’t offer noise cancellation anywhere near as good as the headphones. In fact, unless you have turned on one of its background sounds, you might not notice a single change in what you hear when wearing the buds. However, with the buds seated correctly and the right ambient sound selected, the sleepbuds really do make for a pleasant sleep experience.

Wearing the sleepbuds is honestly good for your sleep, especially if you are a light sleeper or someone who sleeps with a snorer… With the volume set to its default setting, and your favorite noise picked in the app, you really won’t hear anything else going on around you. No slamming doors, no sirens, no crying babies and no

This brings us to my one real complaint about the buds –  removing them… To pull the sleepbuds out, you pinch the small piece of silicone earbud at the top, then gently pull out. Sadly this doesn’t always work as published, I’ve already had several panicked moments when I felt like I couldn’t get one or both of the sleepbuds out of my ear. For some reason, this experience pretty much freaks you out when it happens, and I truly needed a week before I felt comfortable enough to wear them again. It has since happened another two times where I had real trouble removing a sleepbud in the morning. When you do need to hear something going on around you, the only way to hear ambient sounds is to remove one or both buds. Unlike with some noise canceling products, the Bose sleepbuds lack an ambient button allowing the wearer to “hear in”.

The Bose sleepbuds retail for $249.95, and I’ve yet to see any good retail discounts on them. They are available at, as well as the Bose store and most other retailers that carry Bose products, including and BestBuy.


Bose Sleepbuds


Value for money


Product performance


Travel friendly


Battery life



  • Excellent look and feel
  • Full night battery life
  • Can definitely help with a full night of sleep


  • Often hard to remove from your ears the next morning
  • Weaker noise cancellation than other Bose products
  • No option to stream Bluetooth audio
  • Limited selection of sleep sounds

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