As a 30-year-old renting in London, I’ve suffered through my fair share of single glazing. Despite making a mental note to always check the windows before signing the lease, once again I’m living in a flat with such bad sound isolation, I might as well be sleeping in the garden. If it had one.
Drunken Dalstonites? Check. Random motorbike conventions? Check. Thumping house music from my upstairs neighbour until 8 actual AM? Massive check. Sigh.
So I’m a pretty good candidate for SleepPhones. As the name suggests, they’re headphones you wear to sleep. I’ve had the original wireless ones for a while and have been known to approach tears when they’re out of charge, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on the newer model, called Breeze. The difference between these and the originals is the fabric: Breeze ‘phones are made from a lighter, stretchy wicking fabric rather than the warm fleece the originals used. I like the fleece, but hot sleepers (and summer months) might make for sweaty dreams. Grim.
SleepPhones Breeze review
SleepPhones come in wired and wireless variants. If you can stretch to £69.99, the wireless ones are unsurprisingly much more convenient than the £29.99/£39.99 wired versions. They use Bluetooth to connect to your phone or computer, so you can pipe in whatever sounds help you get to sleep.
Podcasts, audiobooks and music work well, although I’m a big fan of an app called White Noise (there are lots of white noise apps, this is just my personal favourite) for generic soundtracks. For guided sleep meditations, the free Sleepfulness app is excellent.
SleepPhones do have their own app, but it’s iOS-only and I’m not a big fan. It offers the same few tracks as the MP3 downloads page on the website, none of which I’ve found especially soothing, but it’s free so there’s no harm in seeing if it works for you.
Personally, I’ve found the best sound to fall asleep to is heavy rain, although that did put me in the strange position of turning on a rain soundtrack to block a thunderstorm. There’s something much more soothing about a looped, unchanging sound file, though – plus the audio version didn’t have cars driving through it.
Hooking your SleepPhones Breeze headphones up to your phone is no trouble. There’s a plastic panel in the headband (it’s flexible, so you don’t feel it) with a button on it – you just hold that down until you hear the Bluetooth beeps, then find SleepPhones in your phone’s list of Bluetooth devices nearby. Pairing was easy-peasy and after that, the ‘phones connected automatically whenever they were turned on.
SleepPhones charge with a USB cable, so you just pull out the plastic panel and plug it in. Although they don’t need charging after every use, I’ve found the best method is to automatically put them on charge when you get up in the morning and take them off. That way, you’ll never find them dead when the guy upstairs is bowling with rhinos at 3am. Again.
Sound quality is good, but unsurprisingly at this price it’s not noise-cancelling. It’s just kind of noise-drowning. Make sure you’ve got the little earphone pads inside the band shifted to exactly where your ears are (sometimes they move around in the night) and you’ll find it hard to hear anything else. I haven’t found that my partner can hear the sounds unless I’ve got them turned up really high, but of course you’re not going to get a complete seal with fabric pads in a headband. You do get to look kind of like an 80s hair rock star/Mr Motivator, though.
Similarly, you’re not likely to miss a fire alarm or similar with SleepPhones on. And as for wake-up alarms, you’ve got two options: if your phone’s still connected to the band and you’re still wearing it in the morning, the alarm sound will come through to the SleepPhones (make sure it’s not too terrifying!). Alternatively, do what I do and set the White Noise app (or your app of choice) to fade out after a couple of hours. The phone automatically disconnects from the headphones after a period of inactivity (and the headphones turn themselves off) and the alarm goes off on my phone as normal. Plus I jump out of bed a little easier after the better night’s sleep I get with these on.
SleepPhones are an absolutely indispensable part of my night time routine, and one of the only reasons I’ve got decent sleep in crappy flatshares, on long-haul flights, and in other people’s houses over the last year or so. The Breeze adds a more breathable fabric to an already excellent product, and this is the version I’d buy if I was getting some now (fleece is lovely but forehead sweat is not).
The wireless version is quite a lot of cash for most people to shell out (especially if you don’t spend that much on your main headphones), but it’s worth it in my opinion because you don’t have the cable restricting your movement.
Overall, I’m a big fan of this product (I asked to review the new ones purely because I liked the original version so much) and I have them to thank for many hours of sleep I wouldn’t otherwise have got this year. Arianna Huffington would be proud.
SleepPhones Breeze UK price and availability
SleepPhones Breeze are available now either directly from manufacturers AcousticSheep, or through retailers like Amazon UK. The wired versions cost between £29.99 and £39.99, and you can pick the wireless version up for £69.99. They come in pink and navy, sizes XS to XL.
Main image: AcousticSheep. And props to them for not showing a woman wearing makeup in bed like every other product shot ever.