Sleepphones Effortless are Bluetooth sleep headphones with wireless charging. They run almost 11 hours on a single charge and recharging is as easy as placing them on their charging base and having magnets pull them in place.
So that’s the promise.
But do they live up to it? And how do they sound?
In this review I am going to listen to Sleepphones Effortless, sleep on them, and take them apart.
What are Sleepphones?
Sleepphones refers to a whole series of headband sleep headphones. They were originally conceived by Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, a family physician and her husband Jason Wolfe, a game developer to help them fall asleep and listen to meditation music.
The Sleepphones series includes:
- Sleepphones Classic (the original corded Sleepphones).
- Sleephones Wireless: these include a Bluetooth module in the headband, which needs to be removed to be recharged.
- Sleepphones Effortless (in this review): the Bluetooth module can be charged by just placing the phones on a wireless induction base.
As of this review, the actual speakers in these models are the same, so you should be getting the same sound quality regardless of which one you purchase.
The plug for each model is obviously different, to match either the Bluetooth module or a standard 3.5 inch headphone jack.
The headband is available as fleece or breeze fabric. If you live in a colder climate or want to use them outdoors in winter, the fleece fabric may be for you. For warmer temperatures, they also offer a headband made from breeze fabric.
I got the fleece fabric, which turned out to be a bit warm, despite me sleeping with AC on (25 degrees Celsius / 77 Fahrenheit). I live in a hot climate. In hindsight, I probably should have gotten the breeze fabric.
How comfortable are the Sleepphones Effortless?
I have tried several different sleep headphones. I am mostly a side sleeper. All sleep headbands I have work reasonably well with a soft feather pillow but create some discomfort when I sleep on a thick, bulging pillow. I am usually able to alleviate the pressure by changing the position of the speakers, but it takes some wiggling.
Sleepphones’ speakers are the thinnest of all flat headband speakers I own.
Generally, I have found they are comfortable for sleeping on the side, provided I have the right pillow.
With a thick pillow they can become uncomfortable after a while. For me, it is often the wires that put some pressure on my ear cartilage.
At times I start out with a good position and later wake up feeling uncomfortable because the speakers have moved in the headband or the complete headband has moved. I then have to readjust the speakers.
Positioning the integrated Bluetooth module
Sleepphones Wireless and Sleepphones Effortless both contain a small Bluetooth module. This module is somewhat bendable and its position can be changed.
The module contains three buttons: One squared one for on/off, pause, and pairing, and two triangular ones for volume and track control.
As a side sleeper I have placed it at the back of the Sleepphones. As shown in the picture above, I just slide it in and close the velcro-sealed opening. The module is completely contained in the sleep headband.
To control the volume in this position, I have to feel the buttons at the back of my head. This is not very convenient, but works OK after some getting used to.
In this position the module does not bother me during sleep.
However, if you are primarily a back sleeper, a back and a side sleeper, or toss and turn a lot, in this position you might end up sleeping on it:
- Alternatively, you could put it on your forehead by rotating the headband. (The wider side of the headband would then be on your forehead. This is not the way they use them in the instructional videos, but it is what some back sleepers end up doing.)
- Expect some fiddling and some getting used to.
- Please also read the Summary if you are concerned about having the Bluetooth module in the headband.
But on the other hand, because the module is contained in the headband, absolutely no wires are dangling out. So you won’t get entangled in any wires and you won’t be pulling your phone off your nightstand.
What’s more, you don’t have to be concerned about the lack of a headphone jack in your phone.
You can also just get up and go to the bathroom without having to unplug your phone.
By and large, while not being completely carefree, the module works for me.
Battery life and charging
The battery life is great. Playing white noise at a moderate volume, it lasts me for 10.5 hours, which is more than enough to get me through the night.
This is important if you want to run Sleepphones continuously to mask noise or mask your own tinnitus.
Battery charging is wireless, completely hassle-free, and takes about 3 hours. To charge the battery you just place the headband (where the module is contained) on the base station. The module’s control button side has to face the base station, with its USB plug being in the opposite direction to the base station’s plug. Magnets keep the module in the correct position for charging.
How do Sleepphones sound?
Sleepphones have a very good bass compared to other sleep headbands. Most of them sound a bit thin and only when pressing the speakers on your ear, do you get sufficient bass.
Not so with these – the bass response is just fine and doesn’t depend too much on the location of the speakers, as long as you keep the speakers on your ears.
This bass is very helpful if you want to use your Sleepphones to mask lower-pitched noise or male snoring.
Guitar and classical music and most instrumental music as well as audiobooks and podcasts sound good.
Sleepphones have a warm sound. Voices sound full which is nice, but they are a bit too muffled for my taste.
I would like the sound of Sleepphones to be brighter and the highs more detailed. Listening to coffee jazz, I feel the trumpets are just right, but the cymbals should be more present.
So when an app provides an equalizer (not all do), I emphasize the treble. Then they sound fine with both good bass and treble.
Sound quality key points
- If you like a good bass and a warm sound, you will likely be satisfied with these.
- If you prefer a bright sound with pronounced cymbals, you will probably crank up the equalizer or be disappointed.
- They produce a consistent sound that does not depend much on exact positioning of the speakers. (Of course they will become a lot quieter if they are not on your ears.)
- Unlike with other sleep headbands I know, pressing the speakers to the ear doesn’t change the sound much. This is great.
- Please keep in mind that these are sleep headphones. The sound quality is not comparable with good over-the-ear headphones.
My favorite application for Sleepphones
I often play white noise and sometimes ambient soundscapes (ocean waves , rain, water streams) to fall and stay asleep. My favorite white noise app for this, myNoise, allows fine adjustments of the pitch. With this app, I find it easy to get an optimally adjusted masking sound out of Sleepphones.
In particular with white noise, Sleepphones’ bass response is very helpful. Masking lower-frequency sounds is easier to achieve if the speakers provide the bass.
When the noise gets too loud to be drowned out by white noise alone, I add earplugs underneath the headband. This combination allows me to get rid of almost all noise, including loud snoring.
How to block noise with Sleepphones
Sleepphones, like other sleep headbands, don’t block much noise.
The fabric might muffle the high frequencies a bit, but they are not designed to be noise cancelling or noise isolating.
Instead, you have to mask (=drown out) offending noise, using white noise, music, or ASMR.
You could, for example, play waterfall sounds or rain noise to drown out the dog next door or the TV in an adjacent room.
Up to a certain noise level this works fine and can be very soothing. If, however, the noise you want to mask is very loud or “bassy,” you have to play your music or waterfall even louder and would likely not be able to fall asleep.
There is a neat little trick though:
Because Sleepphones feature thin on-ear speakers, you can always add foam earplugs underneath. (You can’t add anything underneath in-ear earbuds)
Combining sleep headphones and foam earplugs is one of the best ways I have found to block snoring noise and most other annoying noises that would otherwise keep me awake at night.
Sleepphones Effortless are completely wireless. They have good battery life (in my tests 10.5 hours of continuous playback) and feature wireless charging.
Sleephones have the most consistent bass of all sleep headbands I have tried. Instrumental music sounds pleasant. Podcasts and audiobooks work well. They are good for noise masking with white noise or ambient soundscapes.
These headphones sound warm but a bit muffled. I want the treble to be more pronounced. I miss my cymbals.
They work for me as a side sleeper, but while the speaker inserts are thinner than those of most other sleep headbands, depending on the pillow, I still have to re-adjust their position to avoid / alleviate pressure points. Put this in perspective though: with most headphones and earphones, I can’t sleep on my side at all.
Living in a warm climate, I should have gotten the breeze fabric.
Sleepphones Effortless are expensive. The premium is for the Bluetooth module in the headband and the wireless charging. Wireless charging is a unique feature in sleep headphones. Still, at the current price this premium is, in my opinion, too high.
Who would benefit most from Sleepphones Effortless? I would say side sleepers who have used and like the wired Sleepphones, but crave to get rid of the wires.
If you don’t mind the wires or are just starting out with sleep headbands, Sleepphones Classic feature the same speakers and cost a lot less.
A cheaper (almost) wireless solution is to combine Sleepphones Classic with a small external Bluetooth receiver that can be clipped to your pajamas or shirt.
I find this a very elegant alternative, which additionally relieves you of tweaking the position of the Bluetooth module in the headband.
This also solves the problem of the missing headphone jack on newer phones and you can still go to the bathroom without thinking twice.
Yes, you still have wires coming out of your headband going to your shirt, but there are no wires going to your phone/nightstand and everything is contained within your body.
Excess cord could be tucked under your shirt. Controlling volume and tracks is also easier with the receiver tacked to your shirt.
But, if you want absolutely no wires, the Bluetooth module has to be in the headband.
Disclosure: I received a Sleepphones Effortless sample in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the company in any way.