Jetlag, insomnia, irritating plane passengers, hyperactive children and loud hotel neighbours… just some of the things you don’t want to encounter when you’re away. I’m all too familiar with a lot of these bugbears, and I’d do pretty much anything to avoid them, but a lot of the methods I’ve tried have only been partially effective. Earplugs can be fiddly, eye masks can be uncomfortable, and switching hotel rooms or plane seats is often impossible.
Desperate to find a product that would help reduce noise and distractions whilst travelling, I tried out the SleepPhones® Volume Control Headband Headphones, which offer noise control and allow users to play their own music (preferably something relaxing) through the headphones to help them sleep.
Apparently you should be prepared for ‘no more sleepless nights’, with the headphones blocking out noise and, in particular, snoring, making for a ‘stress free’ experience. It’s suggested you’ll be able to ‘fall asleep faster’ by using SleepPhones®, which certainly appeals to me, as I struggle to sleep when I’m away and I get zero shut-eye on planes.
I was impressed by the product’s eco credentials (it uses recycled fleece and non-lead components) and the website’s page of free music downloads to add to my playlist. It felt like the company had spent a lot of time developing this gadget and getting it right. I was also intrigued by the sister product for runners, called RunPhones, but the only time I run is when I’m late for a train, so that one is firmly out of my remit.
This product is really light and folds up easily, making it much more practical than a giant pair of noise cancelling headphones. It looks identical to the promotional photos, but the fleece is a lot softer than I’d anticipated. However, the lilac colour is a bit too girly for me, and I wish I’d asked for the more subtle grey or black options which would suit most of my wardrobe.
Inside the packaging is a link to a video tutorial explaining more about how to use the headphones, but I manage to work everything out before I’ve even typed the address into my laptop. Connecting an mp3, phone or iPad to the sound system is ridiculously simple. You get a standard 3.5mm headphone jack running from the headband, which should fit any of these devices. The earphones are tucked inside the fleece, so all you have to do is slip the headband on and you’re ready to go.
Putting the headband on was easy, though I had to adjust it a little to prevent a bouffant effect on my hair! Once the music started playing, the sound quality and clarity was impressive, and the volume control on the wire allowed me to adjust sound levels without reaching for my mp3. I picked out some relaxing music by the likes of Ólöf Arnalds, Antony and the Johnsons and John Frusciante, and settled down for a nap.
The only issue I had was with size. Having read the guidelines on the website and measured the circumference of my head (not a glamorous task), I ordered a Medium – it’s designed for 55-59cm heads and mine is a whopping 58cm. In reality the Medium was a very snug fit, and I should probably have ordered a Large, especially as this product is designed to be worn for hours on end. However, the brand does emphasise there’s a bit of stretch with the fleece material, so I’m hoping it will be a bit comfier with continual use, and it’s less restrictive if I wear it as an eye mask rather than just a headband (plus, blocking out light also helps me drift off).
After a little stretching of the fleece, I’ll be taking SleepPhones® with me for night flights and hotel stays. The fabric is washable and non-pilling, so it will last for ages. At £34.99 this product isn’t cheap, but it is undeniably convenient; the system is less hassle than earplugs or cheap ear buds, and there was definitely some outside noise reduction. I’d suggest picking a grey or black colour way unless you’re really into lilac, because a neutral colour will work well regardless of your age or changing taste in clothes.
Disclaimer: I was given this product to review, but retained full editorial control of the resulting blog post. As ever, all opinions are my own, and sadly the man-sized head is my own, too.