“Hello, you’ve reached First-World Complaints, this is Zoë speaking, how may I help you?”
My wonderful ears grant me many, many pleasures: the sound of my baby’s laughter, crunchy toast being buttered, Vampire Weekend’s new album, a fresh mug of coffee being poured… but I fear they are taking their job far too seriously. They think they work for the CIA, and must never dip below Aggressively Vigilant. On the plus side, I do feel like I might save the family if a burglar ever gives it a crack.
Just like my inability to jump on trampolines, I blame the children. It pretty much kicked in the day my firstborn arrived, as did my anxiety and complete loss of rhythm on the dance floor, and it seems to get more powerful with each new child/year that goes by, yknow, like the stench of a Camembert that’s rolled under the back seat.
On any given night my extremely over sensitive ears will run the auditory gauntlet of:
1. My husband’s snoring breathing. It was just occasional snoring , but then I coerced him into sinus surgery to “help” him, and now his basic inhalation and exhalation volume is set to AUDITORIUM thanks to all the new airway space created. So that’s cool. No regrets there. (Fun fact: The thing that stopped his snoring – til he stopped practising – and which stopped his daily use of Ventolin and prednisolone for his asthma, was the Buteyko method. It works. And as the person sharing a bed with him, I can vouch for it.)
2. My five-year old calling out for a drink… or that he is cold… or coming into our bed, or my one year-old crying because she is a one-year old and they do that, especially when they are teething, or sick, or their brain is doubling in size and capability, so, always.
3. Possums fucking around in the tree right outside. We’ve got the goddamn Possopranos out there: it is violent, it is relentless, and I swear I heard the word gabbagool the other night.
4. High-density urban living… i.e.: neighbors daring to have a life and drinking and chatting outside or parties, traffic helicopters flying overhead at 6am, 5am garbos etc etc whatever. That’s life, I get it, let’s all bloody move to Bangalow.
Hotel rooms, of course, are a firm turd out of five for getting a good night’s sleep. Lifts going up and down, the air con vent, party cats, late-night TV viewing next door, housekeeping vacuuming the hallways at 12am (WHY), doors clanging etc. (I am now one of those assholes who checks in and asks for a quiet room away from the restaurant and bar and lift, please.) If anyone can recommend a genuinely quiet hotel room in Sydney, which is where I travel to the most for work: please do. I am six years into my search and still no dice.
Of course, all of this over the top sooking and night waking means I’m a bit of ear plug connoisseur. I reckon if you shine a torch over my Google search bar, you will see the faint words: best ear plugs light sleeper, which I type in relentlessly.
The ones I found to work best I bought in the UK and until my sister-in-law’s dog made off with one of them, I swore by them. Then I found them here in Australia, and discovered they are actually swimming earplugs, and under no circumstances should they be worn overnight for sleeping.
I‘ve tried expensive custom fit ones, and every size and variety of foam plug Amazon reviewers rave about. Yes, before you ask, I tried the Earfoams, and no, they weren’t for me. A friend raves about the Antinois brand, but I generally just revert to 3M or Mack, make sure I insert them properly, and hope for the best.
And that is still kind of the case, even though I bought the Bose Sleepbuds for almost $400 hoping they would be my saviour, mostly with regards to the human sharing a bed with me, and his various, adorable breathing (how dare he) and honking habits. I bought them after a weekend away with my husband, where his snoring was so AGGRESSIVE that I ended up sleeping with my airpods in, and nature music turned up to the point of ear drum perforation.
I’m not gonna go to deep on what these things are/do, the Internet has that covered; they are noise-masking in-ear earbuds, that deliver sounds via Bluetooth from the Bose app in your phone. It’s like a white noise machine, in your ear. You can not use them for calls or music: they only work with the Bose app and the library of noise-masking sounds within. That’s a lotta cash for a very limited job, but Bose aren’t dummies, they know the sleep deprived will pay anything for some zzzs.
This is the case/charger. You get 16 hours of bud charge (cool name for a band?) from a full charge.
The Sleepbuds are good, but also not. They could be better. I was holding out for V2, which is generally the time to buy new shit, cos all the bugs have been ironed out by then, but there was no V2 on horizon, so I dived in. They really need to make a V2.
But not in the most useful way since I can still hear snoring, banging and loud music. Maybe that’s too much to ask from a small piece of plastic or foam, it’s highly likely. We have been gifted the blessing of hearing, and we should be grateful. That said, I find that if you blast the ‘downstream’ sound, it can mask pretty well. But man, it’s intense. I feel like there is a waterfall IN my head. It’s disconcerting and gives me weirdass dreams. I couldn’t do that all night if my partner was a total honker. It’s too full on, and I think it’s unnatural to have that kind of level of noise, even a gentle nature noise or a soft ambient pink noise, funneled directly into your ears.
I do it when my husband’s snoring is dialed up to 10, or when a neighbor is having a party, or when my husband is trying to give me a sleep in and the kids are being VERY LOUD. I use a lesser noise choice and a lesser volume to mask street noise etc.
My buds have saved me in hotels when the people upstairs wake at 5am and stomp around before they leave for their 7am flight, and it’s allowed me to sleep through parties, and it means on holidays where we are all in one room together sleeping, I don’t turn me into a murderous witch.
I’m a side sleeper and they are totally fine. Comfortable. And they stay in.
These are the buds, they are cute, fit well (there are three sizes of cover with each set) and comfy.
You can (finally) download more noise masking sounds. (There was only 10 for ages.)
They do not mask snoring.
Ooof, they try, but they don’t. If I am already asleep with them in, these may keep me from waking from my husband’s snoring, but if I awake because he belted off to dreamland first and started snoring? No.
They don’t seal the ear like a foam plug.
So, yknow, noise is gonna come in.
They’re fiddly as hell.
As an Apple fan, and daily user of airpods, I’ve had the enormous privilege of an instant Bluetooth connection, and efficient retrieval and removal of the earbuds from the charging case. Bose are several decades behind Apple here. It’s not uncommon for it to take me 5-6 goes to carefully align the buds into their charging unit, and there have been many, many nights when I take the buds out and insert into ears, (which is when the connection is meant to fire) and the app cannot find and connect to them. At 2am, in the darkness, this is really fucking annoying.
The app as the controller.
It’s a pest having to fire up your phone and app to use these. Hey, sleepyhead, here is some INTENSE BLUE LIGHT just to soothe you back to sleep. I sleep with my phone on flight mode on the other side of the room, and the whole procedure is fiddly, riddled with bugs, and feels very clunky. Do better, Bose. Please. You are onto something here.
Same family of complaint as above: you have to go into your phone and the app to adjust volume. THIS IS SO DOPEY. Make it work with the volume buttons on the side of the phone, you heathens. We’re tryin’ to sleep and you keep making us light up our dang phone!
Low sound quality
As in, for this kind of money, I don’t want to be able to detect the loop on a nature sound. I suspect my brain’s over activity is part of the reason I am a light sleeper, so if it can find a loop or rhythm in a ‘white noise’ or nature noise, my god it will, and with furious pace, and then it will obsess over it like a tongue with a loose tooth. Several of the sounds I could easily detect where the noise started and stopped. Boo. Hiss. (Repeat.)
You will know they’re there.
By that I mean: I don’t really notice foam plugs, they can stay in all night. But I am aware of these guys being in there, as comfy as they are. They don’t fall out, they’re just… not my ears. And I know that my ears don’t usually have sounds pouring into them. So if you’re a hyper-sensitive weirdo like me, you may feel this is all a bit foreign and it may annoy you during the night, causing more night-waking than if you didn’t have them in… if that makes even a licka sense.
I do not at all regret buying them, esp when I travel for work, and know a noisy night awaits. I pack them every time I go away, and they’re always charged and ready to go at home. But, I think of them as a smash-glass-in-case-of-emergency tool, not a useful, every night solution like foam ear plugs. And, they don’t block out snoring. In my experience, only a spare room truly does, and as we have two kids and a three bedroom house, that’s not really the answer.
Also, if my husband is away, I can’t use them, cos I worry I wouldn’t hear the kids or the fire alarm. So in that sense, they are, um, too effective.
What a brilliant customer case study I am for Bose: “They don’t work! They work too well!”
Anyway. I wrote this not cos I have a tech gadget blog or time to write product reviews, I wrote it for the many other light sleepers or people with snorey spouses who are looking for a yay/nay on these things. Even though of course the whole thing is hugely personal and subjective. I myself read a breathtaking amount of reviews on these things before buying them, like, waaaaay more reviews than on something I’ve paid a lot more money on, (a mattress for example) because I wanted very honest, very specific advice, and also, I’m used to spending $7 on ear plugs, not $380.
In summation: They’re useful, and they have helped me. I feel confident going to bed knowing they’re in my artillery.
If you can afford them, and your sleep is suffering because of noise, I recommend them.
Tikki Tikki Tembo, Recommendo.
PS If you use ear plugs that are game-changey, please, for the love of light sleepers, tell us below!