Good sleep is vital for keeping people healthy, and everyone, without exception, strives for it. However, even with the best will, it sometimes isn’t possible. NHS Digital research found that over half of Britain’s young people suffer from poor sleep. Could the QuietOn upgraded 3.1 earbuds be the solution to the ever-growing problem?
Everyone over a certain age knows that a lack of sleep results in poor health, but many don’t realise just how damaging poor sleep can be—in a recently published study involving 650,000 people, the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) revealed that getting less than five hours of sleep a night increases the likelihood of developing peripheral artery disease by a massive 74%.
The ESC and most health bodies worldwide state that we should all strive for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to help keep our health in tip-top shape. However, for some people, it is easier said than done.
I am pretty sure that everyone reading this will have experienced more than a few nights of poor sleep in their lifetimes, and the effect of this the following day will be engrained in memories; the foggy head, which results in difficulty concentrating, dizziness and irritability, a lack of enthusiasm and, of course, the longing for nightfall when one can try to make up for what was lost the night before.
Although the symptoms I have mentioned do not seem duly concerning, a continued lack of sleep can result in severe health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and Cancer.
Although, in the main, I sleep okay, I sometimes go through periods when no matter what I do, I don’t get enough, and believe me, it’s not through lack of effort.
During the past few years, I have purchased a few white and brown noise generators, which have produced mixed results. Although some might consider more than one of these machines overkill, I rarely think of price when it comes to my health. I have also tried a few foam earbuds brands; however, they invariably fall out during the night.
As I have gotten older, my health has become a significant focus in my life. Nowadays, I always eat healthily, regularly walk/hike in the countryside and up mountains, and drink absolutely zero alcohol. The one thing I am yet to achieve in my health drive is mastering the art of consistent, good-quality sleep every time my head hits the pillow.
I was contacted recently by a representative of QuietOn, a Finnish company founded by two former Nokia engineers specialising in wire-free noise-cancelling earbuds.
Frequently, wagging fingers are pointed at tech firms for damaging aspects of one’s health. QuietOn, like the Canadian mediation headband company MUSE, are more deserving of applause than wagging fingers and scowls as they produce products designed to aid health.
How they work
Given that the QuietOn founders were formally at Nokia, I expected something technologically special and wasn’t disappointed. Visually, QuietOn’s 3.1 Earbuds don’t look too different from the earbuds most people use for making calls and listening to music on a mobile phone; the only noticeable difference is that they are much smaller, approximately a third of the size of the Apple Airpods Pro™ earbuds.
The QuietOn 3.1 earbuds, the version used in our tests, were launched in November 2022 as an upgrade to the QuietOn 3.0. The added features are a transition period between hearing mode to noise cancelling, which is said to upgrade user experience, and a change in the ear tip material to improve comfort.
The new ear tip material is an upgraded memory foam formula that is softer and features less bounce back than previous versions. Unlike traditional foam earbuds, these don’t increase in size when they come into contact with sweat or water; they are also said to offer improved acoustic abilities.
Stress and noise are two things that cause poor sleep; stress can be dealt with by meditating and dieting or something as simple as not watching or reading the news. The good thing about stress is that it is something one has a semblance of control over. However, exterior noise is another matter as you, more often than not, have no control over the source.
The most common types of a noise interrupting sleep are low-frequency ones, including traffic, home appliances, noisy neighbours and even a partner who snores. The QuietOn 3.1 earbuds deal with all these by generating opposite waveforms, nullifying the low-frequency noises mentioned above.
It does this by using an in-built microphone to sample the sound and, via a speaker, creates a phase-shifted sound that cancels the original sound.
Although I tend to portray myself to some as a bit of a tech expert, the truth is I am not, which is why I am invariably the last to purchase the latest mobile phones etc. I frequently find new technology confusing; however, the QuietOn 3.1 earbuds were very straightforward to use. They started working as soon as I took them out of the case and popped them into my ears.
My wife, Natasha, tried them a couple of times whilst we were driving up and down the motorway, and she, who can sometimes be very sceptical about new technology, was impressed by how effective they were. However, the true test came when it was time for bed.
I popped them into my ears, and for the first night, I did notice them, particularly with the side of my head on the pillow. However, my body soon adapted, and they became far less noticeable. The big question is, “Did they take me into blissful slumber?”
Once I had fallen asleep, I did have an uninterrupted night, and I’ll admit that getting used to complete silence wasn’t quite as simple as I thought it would be; it made me feel like I was in a sterile environment. Unfortunately, I don’t live in the best location to test the efficacy of the earbuds as I live in a detached property with no passing traffic, next to fields, and none of my near neighbours has children or pets.
In fact, the only noise I hear at night is the fleeting screech of owls visiting my trees. My sleeping problems stem from being unable to turn my brain off at night.
As far as producing quiet is concerned, the earbuds are excellent and no doubt will prove extremely valuable for those living in places close to a busy road, or those with noisy neighbours etc. However, if people expect them to ‘Put’ them to sleep, they won’t. Much like the MUSE meditation headband, they are a tool that is designed to help. They do not have a hidden trick up their sleeves to force you into sleep.
If you want to know how to put your body/mind in the best state for sleeping, we would recommend reading the guide by Dr Rebecca Robins and a further one focusing on sleep syncing by Martin Seeley.
The earbuds come with a rechargeable case; mine was white, matching the earbuds with a brushed aluminium insert and six LED lights, three for each earbud to indicate the charge level. The earbuds are small enough to fit inside the ear and boast an exceptional battery life, which according to the manufacturer, is 28 hours on a single charge.
I am always keen to write about technology that can positively impact health, and I am happy to report that the QuietOn 3.1 Earbuds did meet my high expectations. I should mention that they are only a useful tool at night; they can also be used during the day in busy environments such as the office and on the train etc.
QuietOn 3.1 Earbuds – Where and how?
QuietOn first came to prominence in 2015 thanks to a hugely successful Indiegogo funding campaign. In the same year, the company launched the first iteration of its earbuds and since then has been on a refining and improvement program, which has led to its current flagship product, the QuietOn 3.1 Earbuds.
The QuietOn 3.1 earbuds are supplied with four different-sized ear tips, allowing users to find the ideal ear fit. The supplied charging case provides up to 28 hours of use from a single charge.
As the earbuds do not feature transmitters, receivers or connectivity options, they do not generate an electromagnetic field (EMF), something that the World Health Organisation identifies as a health concern.
The earbuds are priced at $289.00 USD and can be purchased at quieton.com. I realise that some people reading this might baulk at the thought of spending more than a couple of pounds, euros or dollars for silence; however, if alertness and productivity are part of your everyday life, work out how much a poor night’s sleep can cost you financially.
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