Kokoon Relax sleep headphones review: surprisingly soothing, with excellent noise cancelling

The Kokoon Relax sleep headphones offer a wide range of sleep-focused features – but are they worth the high price? Here's our review

Kokoon Relax Sleep Headphones
(Image credit: Jen Allen)
T3 Verdict

The Kokoon Relax sleep headphones are a pricey way to help you sleep but they work well. Offering some of the best noise cancellation we've come across, their bevy of sleep-focused features help soothe you to sleep as well as help you wake up in the best frame of mind.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Extensive sleep related features

  • +

    Incredibly comfortable

  • +

    Great active noise cancellation

  • +

    Decent sound quality

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Very expensive

  • -

    Difficult for side sleepers

  • -

    Takes time to adjust to

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In this Kokoon Relax sleep headphones review, we're going to make a lot of mentions about how expensive they are. One of the most expensive options on the best sleep headphones roundup, they're quite the investment – but they are worth it. Plus, additional features mean they also feature in our best sleep trackers guide. While it'll be a prohibitive price for many, if you can stretch this far, you'll be in awe of how surprisingly soothing the Kokoon Relax headphones (or the Kokoon Sleep Headphones, as they were originally called) are.

Designed to help you switch off and using some well-known techniques such as pleasant white noise, relaxing meditation sessions, and some great breathing exercises, it's a bit like having a therapist in your ears. Even better, the Kokoon Relax sleep headphones also track how well you sleep, providing you with some key insight into how such exercises are working for you.

The issue here is that they're quite bulky to wear, so they take practice. Crucially, side sleepers will probably never feel entirely comfortable with them on so you may need to adjust how you sleep – or perhaps opt for this brand's in-ear option (check out our Kokoon Nightbuds review for the full low-down on those, or head to our Kokoon Nightbuds vs Kokoon Relax headphones comparison to see how the two match up). Put the time into the practices and tweak how you snooze though and there are some rich benefits to be had here, especially if you're prone to insomnia.

Kokoon Sleep Headphones review: price and release date

The Kokoon Sleep Headphones were released for general sale in August 2019, and are priced at $350 / £310. That's the price if you buy directly from Kokoon, with third-party retailer availability relatively limited.

Colour-wise, you have a choice of grey or black. Given the focus is on you wearing them at night, the choice of colour scheme shouldn't matter so much – although note that you are able to use them in other situations as the Kokoon Sleep Headphones work pretty well for all audio-related situations.

Kokoon Sleep Headphones

(Image credit: Kokoon)

Kokoon Sleep Headphones review: setup and use

The Kokoon Sleep Headphones are quite straightforward to set up. Like with any Bluetooth headphones, it's a matter of tapping the relevant button and pairing it up with your smartphone. You'll need to install the MyKokoon app too to be able to access all the features that these offer although you could always just pair them as regular Bluetooth headphones (don't do that. It would be a waste). 

There's a brief set up process within the MyKokoon app but it's pretty simple stuff. Crucially, you'll be spending a lot of time within the app getting to grips with the wealth of features available through it so this is a good time to look around. The app is a bit dated looking compared to other audio products but it's clear and well-laid out so you won't exactly get lost seeking anything out.

Kokoon Sleep Headphones close up of controls

(Image credit: Jen Allen)

Kokoon Sleep Headphones review: features

The Kokoon Sleep Headphones are packed with features. On the hardware front, they feature EEG brainwave sensors built into the earcups. These come into contact with your ears while you sleep, aiming to work out when you've fallen asleep, how long it took, and how deeply you're sleeping. 

Once it's figured that out, the headphones and app work to recommend programmes and audio that – in theory – will work out best for helping you rest and sleep. What does that mean for you? Nice sounds, basically. As with any kind of sleep therapy, it takes time to adjust to music, noise, or a voice speaking to you as you try to sleep but it does work. 

Kokoon eases the process by guiding you through a number of short sessions where you can listen to a narrator as they guide you through breathing and relaxing exercises. These aren't solely limited to sleep either with some aimed at soothing you when you're feeling anxious or for when you're struggling to wake up in the morning. 

person in bed wearing Kokoon Sleep Headphones and looking at app on their phone

(Image credit: Kokoon)

There's always the option of peaceful white noise too with oceans, babbling brooks, and the usual bevy of background noises you'll have experienced if you've used apps such as Calm or Headspace. The advantage here is that you don't have to worry about a subscription fee. Once you've bought the Kokoon Sleep Headphones, you're done financially. The app is free and you can use it as much as you need or want to. Best of all, the Kokoon Sleep Headphones are smart enough to fade your audio to quieter levels as you fall asleep, proving far more useful than using regular earphones or headphones that stay at the same volume all night long. 

In a way, it's like having your own personal trainer for your mind and your sleep. Much like a personal trainer, such features don't have instant results but over time and providing you put the work in, there are definitely results to be gained here. It will take willpower though which is where some people may understandably falter. 

Kokoon Sleep Headphones review: sleep tracking

The premium side to the Kokoon Sleep Headphones is its sleep tracking. This is why people consider buying them and stick with them. 

If you're only napping, the Kokoon Sleep Headphones tracks how long you were awake and asleep for. For a 'proper' night's sleep, you also get more detailed sleep tracking such as how much of your sleep was light, deep, or in rapid eye movement (REM). We compared it to how a Fitbit tracked things and it was far more effective, at least when it came to longer sessions. Shorter sessions were a little harder for the Kokoon Sleep Headphones to pick up but we're not convinced that's a big issue when snoozing. It's likely you'll be using these most of all for perfecting your sleep hygiene before a full night's sleep (or at least as much of it as you can manage). 

The way in which audio decreases as you rest is a particularly neat feature here with the extensive coaching tools soothing you to sleep once you get used to the different way of doing things. 

Kokoon Sleep Headphones review: comfort and fit

The Kokoon Sleep Headphones are some of the comfiest headphones I've used. Lightweight and not too bulky, the oversized earcups cocoon your ears nicely. Inside are flexible silicone linings that mould around your ears well with the aforementioned sensors there but hardly noticeable. The outer casing of the cups use a breathable fabric to prevent overheating and I certainly didn't feel too hot with them on. There's no risk of sweaty ears here, even on a hot night. 

The issue then is how you sleep. If you're a side sleeper, you'll need a plush pillow to feel good about wearing the Kokoon Sleep Headphones. In the end, a half-side angle sort of worksheet or – ideally – sleeping on one's back. It definitely takes a bit of time to get used to depending on how you sleep. Fortunately, if you give up, taking them off switches them over to a sleep mode to save on the battery life (about 13 hours) but it's worth sticking with because, of course, you won't benefit from the sleep tracking tools otherwise. 

Kokoon Sleep Headphones close up of controls

(Image credit: Jen Allen)

Kokoon Sleep Headphones review: audio performance

In terms of audio performance, the Kokoon Sleep Headphones are pretty good as long as you don't push them too far. Even if you take out the extensive sleep tracking and assistance side of things, they offer excellent active noise cancellation. If you need a pair of headphones to use on your commute to escape the monotonous noise of people around you, these double up well for the purpose although can sound a bit quiet compared to regular headphones. Passive noise cancellation is also pretty good. The headphones can also be used with a 3.5mm cable (included) which could prove useful when on the move. 

Understandably, if you're after some bass-heavy headphones for listening to loud and energetic music, these aren't it. The soundstage is reasonable but more for crisp mids rather than anything bassy. Nor can you take calls from them unless you're using the audio cable, so they're not as feature-rich on that front as a regular pair of headphones but they're still useful away from the bedroom. 

It's a bit like expecting a fitness tracker to work as a smartwatch. The features may be similar in places and overlap but there are very different aims here too. 

Kokoon Sleep Headphones

(Image credit: Jen Allen)

Kokoon Sleep Headphones review: verdict

Like a lot of devices targeted at wellbeing and improved mental health, the Kokoon Sleep Headphones require a time commitment. These aren't headphones you'll put on and see as miracle workers within one night. It takes time to adjust to wearing them and even more time for the MyKokoon app to learn how best to help you.

Stick with it though and the benefits are clear. Besides providing you with a generally useful set of statistics about your sleep patterns, the meditation and relaxation side of things is incredibly soothing, especially if you have a busy lifestyle. Of course, you can gain some of that through free apps and websites but as a complete package, the Kokoon Sleep Headphones has a lot to offer here. 

They feel great too – even if they're a little bulky for side-sleepers – and you'll never want to wear a different pair of headphones again. At least not until you want some stronger audio for your favorite music, that is.

Kokoon Sleep Headphones review: alternatives to consider

The Kokoon Sleep Headphones have carved quite a niche for themselves but there are alternatives out there.

Notably, if you're simply looking for a way of tracking your sleep, the best sleep trackers contain many great wrist-based devices from Fitbit and Xiaomi. They won't help relax you, but they will keep an eye on how you sleep and offer some simple advice on how to maintain more REM sleep.

There's also the Withings Sleep Analyzer which is placed under your mattress. It's no good for soothing you to sleep but it's the ultimate solution for pure sleep tracking.

The other angle is to consider one of the best wireless headphones in conjunction with a subscription to Headspace or Calm. None of these headphones will be quite as comfortable as the Kokoon Sleep Headphones but you'll be able to use them for your regular music listening and even the more expensive options still tend to be cheaper than Kokoon's offering. 

Jennifer Allen

Jennifer Allen has been writing about tech for nearly a decade. Her specialisms include fitness wearables, Bluetooth speakers, and all things Apple.