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Bose Sleepbuds Alternatives: Finding the Best Fit for a Silent Night

Getting a good night‘s sleep is essential for physical health, mental wellbeing, and cognitive performance. However, noise disruptions from snoring partners, traffic, neighbors, or other sources can make it frustratingly difficult to get the restful sleep you need.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, "environmental noise can have a notable negative impact on sleep, causing shorter sleep duration, more nighttime awakenings, and less time in deep, slow-wave sleep stages." Even when noise doesn‘t wake you up completely, it can still result in "microarousals" that prevent you from reaching and staying in the deepest, most restorative stages of sleep.

Many people turn to earplugs or noise-masking headphones to block out bothersome sounds, but finding ones that are effective yet still comfortable to wear all night is a challenge. Over-ear headphones are too bulky, and standard earbuds often feel uncomfortable and fall out.

Bose Sleepbuds II: Premium Noise Masking

Bose, a leader in audio technology, recognized this need in the market and released their Noise-Masking Sleepbuds in 2018. These pioneering "sleepbuds" were specifically designed to mask noise and help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

The second generation Bose Sleepbuds II, released in 2020, improve on the original with a slimmer profile, better battery life, and an expanded sound library. Key features of the Sleepbuds II include:

  • Tiny, lightweight design with a secure, comfortable fit
  • Passive noise blocking with soft silicone ear tips
  • Noise-masking sounds specifically designed to cover up common sleep disruptions
  • Simple touch controls
  • 10 hours of battery life, 30 with carrying case
  • $250 MSRP

The Bose Sleepbuds II use proprietary noise-masking technology, not active noise cancellation (ANC) like Bose‘s other headphones. While ANC uses microphones to detect ambient noise and speakers to emit an inverse sound wave that "cancels out" this noise, noise-masking works by playing sounds tuned to frequencies that overlap with and "cover up" the most annoying and alerting aspects of ambient noise.

According to Bose acoustic engineer Dan Gauger in this interview, the Sleepbuds "combine passive blocking of high frequency noise with active masking of lower frequencies" for optimal blocking of disruptive sounds. This approach works especially well for abrupt noises like snoring, voices, and slamming doors.

While the Bose Sleepbuds II are very effective and well-regarded, they do have some notable downsides. The $250 price tag puts them out of reach for many buyers. Some users also find the buds uncomfortable over a full night or experience issues with them falling out when changing positions. And if you prefer to fall asleep to music, audiobooks, or podcasts rather than nature sounds, you‘re out of luck as the Sleepbuds II can only play content from the Bose Sleep App.

Luckily for light sleepers on a budget, there are now many excellent alternatives to Bose Sleepbuds from both established audio brands and sleep specialists. The global earphones and headphones market size is expected to grow from $25.1 billion in 2021 to $35.2 billion by 2026, with sleep headphones as an expanding niche.

Let‘s take a look at some of the best Bose Sleepbuds alternatives available today across four main categories: headband headphones, sleep mask headphones, wireless earbuds, and earplugs.

Headband Headphones

Headband headphones, also known as "sleep headphones" or "headphone headbands", have slim speakers embedded inside a soft, stretchy fabric headband. They provide a comfortable, low-profile fit without anything actually sitting inside or on top of your ears.

Pros of headband headphones:

  • Very comfortable for side and stomach sleepers
  • Avoid ear soreness and pressure associated with earbuds
  • Washable headband for hygiene
  • Stable fit won‘t dislodge easily if you move around

Cons of headband headphones:

  • Less noise isolation than earbuds, especially for high frequencies
  • Fabric can feel too warm on hot nights
  • Headband may be too tight or loose for some head sizes

Our top pick for headband headphones is the AcousticSheep SleepPhones Wireless. SleepPhones are the original headband headphones, with over one million sold worldwide. The latest Bluetooth version features flat, padded speakers inside a soft, breathable, moisture-wicking fabric headband.

Music and podcast audio quality is very good thanks to an upgraded CSR chip and 4th-generation Bluetooth technology. The 13-hour battery life beats the Bose Sleepbuds, and you can use them with any audio app. A built-in microphone allows them to double as a sleep-friendly headset for hands-free calls.

Although the $100 SleepPhones are pricier than generic headband headphones on Amazon, the thoughtful design and higher-quality components justify the price for most buyers. The company also offers a satisfaction guarantee and free exchanges to get the right fit. If you want to save some money, go with the wired version for around $40.

Sleep Mask Headphones

Sleep masks, also called eye masks, are a sleep aid staple. They block out light to help you fall asleep faster and reduce sleep interruptions. Sleep mask headphones take this a step further by combining light blocking with speakers or earbuds to block out noise too.

Pros of sleep mask headphones:

  • Blocks both noise and light for a distraction-free sleep environment
  • Darkness encourages melatonin production to fall asleep faster
  • More comfortable than over-ear or on-ear headphones
  • Can be used for travel, meditation, and relaxation too

Cons of sleep mask headphones:

  • Combined light and sound blocking can feel claustrophobic for some
  • More bulk than a standard eye mask
  • Easy to overheat, especially contoured and "3D" style masks
  • Can shift around and lose speaker positioning compared to headbands

We recommend the Joseche Bluetooth Sleep Mask for its winning combination of comfort, performance, and price. The ergonomically designed eye cavities and plush, breathable fabric minimize pressure on your face and eyes. The Bluetooth 5.0 module provides a stable, energy-efficient wireless connection and doubles battery life compared to older Bluetooth versions.

The flat speakers are fully adjustable to sit right over your ears. Audio quality is good if not quite on par with the Bose Sleepbuds or SleepPhones. Active noise cancellation blocks out lower frequency sounds, while passive noise isolation from the mask takes care of higher frequencies. The Joseche sleep mask is normally priced at an affordable $35.99 on Amazon.

If you want to splurge for premium sound and build quality, the Kokoon Nightbuds Sleep Mask is worth a look. Developed with the help of sleep scientists, the luxe Nightbuds mask wraps a satin eye mask, silicone-tipped earbuds, and acoustically tuned ANC technology into an all-in-one sleep solution. The $350 price approaches Bose Sleepbud territory though.

Wireless Earbuds for Sleeping

Audio brands and entrepreneurs are increasingly developing earbuds with a secure fit, noise blocking, and other features tailored specifically for sleep. These buds tend to have a lower profile design compared to standard true wireless earbuds. Ear tips and wings are optimized for comfort and stability when lying down.

Advantages of sleep earbuds:

  • Best combination of comfort and noise isolation, especially with ANC
  • Secure fit ideal for side sleepers
  • Compact design barely protrudes from ears
  • Often have sleep-specific features like relaxing sounds or sleep tracking

Disadvantages of sleep earbuds:

  • Can still cause soreness for sensitive ears
  • Easier to accidentally knock out than headband styles
  • Pricier than basic moldable earplugs
  • Not all block noise as effectively as foam or wax earplugs

After testing over a dozen models, our favorite wireless earbuds designed for sleep are the QuietOn 3. These tiny Finnish-engineered sleep buds are a marvel of miniaturization. At just 3.8 grams each, the QuietOn 3 nestle securely and comfortably inside your ears. Four sizes of ultra-soft foam eartips are included to ensure a perfect fit.

Unlike most wireless earbuds which use feedforward ANC, the QuietOn 3 have feedback ANC that‘s specifically tuned to cancel out lower frequency sounds like snoring, traffic, and airplane cabin noise. They work more like earplugs than earbuds, with no Bluetooth connectivity or music playback. The ANC is fully automatic – just pop them in and the hush of sweet silence descends.

Battery life is an insanely good 28 hours per charge – nearly 3x longer than the Bose Sleepbuds! The included aluminum carrying case provides an additional three charges. At around $240, the QuietOn 3 are definitely a luxury. However, their performance impressed us enough to crown them the top overall Bose Sleepbuds alternative for those serious about silence.

Budget-conscious buyers should consider the Soundcore Sleep A10. These Bluetooth sleep buds from the Anker‘s well-regarded Soundcore audio division deliver a lot for their $80 price tag. The lightweight buds feature foam eartips with a "noise lockout" design and adaptive ANC to minimize ambient sound by up to 35dB.

Four soothing nature and white noise sounds are built-in, or you can play your own audio from any app. They even function as a viable Bluetooth headset during the day thanks to 4 mics with AI-enhanced call noise reduction. The claimed 10 hours of noise masking playback beats the Bose Sleepbuds by 2 hours.


With the proliferation of "smart" sleep gadgets, it‘s easy to overlook simple earplugs. Foam, silicone putty, and wax earplugs remain some of the most affordable and effective solutions for blocking out noise to get a good night‘s sleep.

Pros of earplugs:

  • Maximum noise blocking, with NRR (noise reduction ratings) up to 33dB
  • Cheapest option, especially foam earplugs
  • Very small and unobtrusive
  • No batteries to charge or electronics to fuss with

Cons of earplugs:

  • Can gradually work their way out of ears during the night
  • Wax and silicone earplugs can leave residue
  • Obviously can‘t listen to music, podcasts, or sleep sounds
  • Deeper insertion can be uncomfortable for smaller/sensitive ear canals

Our go-to earplugs for sleeping are Mack‘s Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs. The moldable silicone putty conforms perfectly to your ears for a snug, custom fit. Mack‘s says they block out more noise than foam earplugs, and in our experience they do seem to attenuate sound very effectively. The silicone is also safer for your ear canal and more comfortable for extended wear than foam plugs that can exert pressure.

As with any earplugs, be sure to use proper insertion technique for optimal comfort and noise reduction. Roll the putty into a ball, pull your outer ear up and back to open the canal, then gently push in until flush with your ear opening. Each pair of earplugs can be used 5+ times before the material degrades.

Choosing the Best Bose Sleepbuds Alternative

With so many options available across the categories covered in this guide, how do you determine which sleep headphones are right for you? Here are the key factors we recommend evaluating:

Comfort and Fit: Consider your sleeping position, ear sensitivity, and head shape/size. Side sleepers typically do best with slim earbuds, while headbands and sleep masks accommodate all positions. The headphones should stay put and not cause pain or irritation after hours of wear. When in doubt, prioritize comfort over noise cancelling performance.

Noise Blocking vs. Masking: Passive noise isolation works by creating a good seal to physically block sound waves, while active noise cancellation uses electronics to analyze and counteract noise. Noise masking covers up irritating sounds with other more soothing sounds tuned to a certain frequency range. Decide which approach aligns best with the type of noise you need to minimize.

Sound Quality: If you want to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, choose headphones with quality speakers and Bluetooth wireless technology. For pure noise blocking and nature sounds, sound quality is less critical.

Battery Life: Wireless headphones need to hold a charge through the night. 8 hours should suffice for most sleepers, but heavy snorers or people sensitive to charging hassles may prefer a longer runtime.

Special Features: Sleep tracking, app integration, an alarm function, and a selection of built-in soothing sounds are common value-added features. Decide which, if any, you‘d actually use to avoid overspending on bells and whistles.

Price: Establish a budget based on how severe your sleep disruption is and the opportunity cost of lost productivity and wellbeing from lack of sleep. Pricier options from specialist brands tend to have better comfort, noise blocking, and build quality than cheap generic products. That said, you can find good entry-level options for well under $100.

The Verdict

Light sleepers who covet quiet slumber are spoiled for choice when it comes to sleep headphones and earplugs. For Bose-rivaling performance, we recommend the QuietOn 3 earbuds if you want maximum noise cancellation or the AcousticSheep SleepPhones if you need to listen to music and podcasts too. Mack‘s Silicone Putty Earplugs are our top choice for simple, affordable, and effective noise blocking on a budget.

Ultimately though, the right sleep earphones for you depend on individual factors like comfort preferences, sleep habits, sensitivity to sounds, and budget. Don‘t be afraid to try a few different options. Achieving healthy sleep is a highly personal pursuit, so be patient and experiment.

If you still have trouble sleeping after optimizing your eyewear and earwear, take a holistic look at your overall sleep hygiene. No technology can fully compensate for poor habits like inconsistent sleep schedules, too much evening screen time, an unsupportive mattress, or high caffeine intake.

By combining the right Bose sleepbuds alternative with a cool, dark, tidy bedroom and a regular wind-down routine, you can finally start getting the deep, restorative sleep your mind and body need to thrive. All that‘s left is to dream up what you‘ll do with your newfound daytime energy and brainpower!