Sleep deprivation affects millions of people worldwide, with nearly one in two people struggling to fall asleep once a week. As a result, the market is flooded with sleeping products – from earbuds to headbands – promising blissful sleep. The question is, which ones actually qualify as sleep headphones and, more importantly, help people sleep?

Here’s our guide to the four essential qualities all sleep headphones require to ensure better sleep.


Effective sleep headphones need low-profile earcups (earcups that don’t stick out) to minimise pillow displacement and disperse pressure. To achieve this effect, silicone moulds are sometimes used to create longer, more oval shaped earcups that fit snugly around the user’s head. This is especially important for side-sleeping (the most common sleeping position). Low-profile earcups ensure that when a person sleeps on their side, any pressure from the headphones is evenly spread to other parts of the head and not concentrated through the ears.

Most headphones are made from non-breathable materials like faux leather, due to their audio properties. However, headphones designed to help you sleep should be made from a mix of breathable fabrics like cotton and spacer fabric instead. “We use a cotton blend on some of the contact surfaces to give great breathability and moisture wicking properties,” explains Richard Hall, chief technical officer at Kokoon. “This stops sweat from gathering on the earcups, making them more comfortable for the user.”

Noise-cancelling technology

Pioneered by Bose in the eighties, noise-cancelling headphones reduce background noise by creating sound waves that block unwanted sounds. This active noise control is an essential element for all good sleep headphones: it helps users block out background noise to enable sleep in the first place, and protects sleepers from surrounding noises while they sleep (such as snoring or road traffic) – keeping them asleep for longer. Nosie-cancelling headphones do not block out high frequency sounds emitted from alarms, however.

Sleep sensor technology

Headphones such as those made by Kokoon are equipped with EEG sensors that monitor the user’s brainwaves. By monitoring the user’s sleep patterns and recording their sleep cycles – from light sleep to REM and deep sleep – the Kokoon app learns vital information about how a person sleeps and responds to audio.

“The first few moments of a person falling asleep are very fragile,” explains Tim Antos, Chief Executive Officer of Kokoon. “By using the sensor data that’s sent from the headphones to the app, the app can control the audio to match the person’s sleep stage. So it could turn down the audio they’ve been listening to and bring in some white noise, that will protect them while sleep, for example.”

Ability to play all audio at premium quality

From white noise to cognitive distraction exercises, many types of audio can help a person fall asleep. Sleep headphones equipped with full audio capabilities – as opposed to pre-loaded noise masking sleepbuds – can be used in conjunction with cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBTI) programmes. Premium sound quality is essential too: poor audio quality can lead to the user fixating on sound quality, preventing sleep.


As this guide should hopefully make clear, effective sleep headphones do far more than basic noise-cancelling and playing white noise. The best sleep headphones require a careful balance of:

  • comfort to reduce heat and pressure
  • noise-cancelling to protect the sleeper
  • sleep sensor technology to monitor sleeping patters
  • premium sound quality to enable CBTI and other audio types

FOLLOW @sleepkokoon

  • With the Kokoon Relax mobile app, you can enjoy our spoken word audio techniques which include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and our music and soundscapes. Download it on the Google Play Store and App Store once you get your Kokoon headphones.⠀
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  • Our customers fall asleep 30% faster listening to the spoken word and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques in the Kokoon Relax mobile app when compared to music or white noise. That’s one reason to jump for joy! Find out about Kokoon headphones and the Kokoon Relax app at our website.⠀
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  • “Easily the most comfortable headphones ever and have some pretty mind-blowing new features. I particularly love that it knows when I fall asleep and stops my music.” – Alistar on Trustpilot⠀
Kokoon’s intelligent sleep sensors include EEG brainwave sensors that monitor when you fall asleep and fade out our audio, introducing white noise. Find out more at our website.⠀
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  • “I have been using the Kokoon Headphones for over a year now nearly daily. Initially, I bought them as a way to help me sleep as I was suffering from insomnia during a rather stressful period of my life. They worked like a charm and from day one (or shall I say night one!) I was able to fall asleep within minutes. Since then I have been using them a lot as high-end headphones for their excellent noise-cancellation ability. I have tested different types of music and sounds and I discovered what works for me in different circumstances i.e. when I want to fall asleep, just relax, or be energized in the gym.⠀
So today, my Kokoon Headphones together with my smartphone are my life's companions!” – Vassilis S on Highya⠀
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  • Feel the warmth of a crackling campfire. Our specially composed audio library can be accessed through the Kokoon Relax Mobile App once you purchase your Kokoon headphones⠀
  • Find your inner peace with the soothing sound of a gentle brook meandering through the forest. Kokoon headphones work with any app. But using the Kokoon Relax Mobile App you can create your own relaxing audio experience. Find out more at our website.⠀
  • Want to give Kokoon as a gift this holiday? Our headphones use sensors and machine learning to bring intelligence to the audio experience. Find out how at our website.⠀
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  • Looking to give Kokoon as a gift this holiday? Our headphones combine three noise reduction technologies including Active Noise Cancellation to help block out those annoying disturbances. Visit our website to find out more.⠀
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