We're not sleeping very well. That's not a confession from the Stuff team, although we have been playing Sea of Thieves into the early hours lately. No, it's more the conclusion of a national study that shows we're in the midst of a sleeplessness epidemic.
This is partly because of our long working hours culture, but also down to tech – who hasn’t lay in bed scrolling through their Twitter feed “just quickly” before closing their eyes? While you’re at it, you may as well check your emails, see what the weather’s doing tomorrow, oh and Jessica Jones series two is now available on Netflix…
Thankfully, tech also has a solution: the QuietOn Sleep. These little wireless earbuds promise to block out noise – specifically snoring – helping you get a good night’s kip.
So do they work? We put on a mug of cocoa and bedded down to find out.
Design: a work in progress
Something to note before we get started: our test model was a pre-production sample. The final version – which will ship in October 2018 – could look a little different.
They’re smaller than most wireless earbuds – the makers claim you can fit 21 of them side-by-side on a single credit card. Though why you’d want to is beyond us. Their petite size means they’re also light, and hence comfortable to wear (this is helped by their foam sleeves).
They fit well in the ear, too, thanks to the foam ear tip. And once they’re in, they stay in, which is good news if you tend to thrash about in your sleep.
They come in a carry case, whose magnetic lid closes with a satisfying click. The noise-cancelling is disabled when in the carry case, so unless you put them away in their rightful home, you’ll run the battery down in no time.
You also need the case to charge them, using the microUSB port on the back. In other words, don’t lose the case.
There are no lights, which means no distractions. But that also means you can’t tell how much juice they’ve got left. They’ll provide 20 hours of noise cancellation on a full charge, which takes just over an hour.
Features: you could use them in your sleep
The QuietOn Sleeps' functionality is pretty foolproof – just put them in your ears and let them do their noise-cancelling thing. Which is a plus, because we don’t want to be navigating a complicated UI just before bed.
As well as being smaller than the previous QuietOn model, the Sleep claims to be particularly effective against snoring, as it blocks out low frequencies.
There’s also a talk mode. Press the earbud and it opens the airwaves, so you can hear your significant other ask why are you wearing those ridiculous things in bed. You have to press each earbud in turn to activate talk mode on both – they’re not linked.
In fact, there’s no Bluetooth or any wireless tech onboard at all, so you can’t listen to music on them. That’s about it in terms of features. So now the crucial question: do they work?
QuietOn Sleep: do they work?
They do. Unfortunately – or fortunately, actually – our significant other doesn’t snore, so we couldn’t test them against their snoring claims. But we took them for a spin on the London Underground, where they significantly dulled the rumbling of the tube train.
With everything muted, it felt a little like walking around underwater. While a lot quieter, station announcements were still intelligible, so the tech does go easier on higher frequencies. That means you won’t struggle to hear higher-pitched noises like alarm clocks or fire alarms. Which is handy if you intend on staying employed/not burning to death in your sleep.
In bed, their quiet hissing was just the blanket of white noise we needed to drift off. Though it did feel a bit awkward going to sleep with something in our ears, especially when we lay on our side and the pillow pushed one further into our lug hole.
Pressing the earbud didn’t activate talk mode every time – on numerous occasions, we had to try repeatedly to make it work. Hopefully this will be improved for the final consumer version.
QuietOn Sleep verdict
Would we recommend QuietOn's Sleeps? Sleeping with something wedged in your ear might take some getting used to. And the RRP of $239 (£171) is enough to give you sleepless nights – even if, at the time of writing, its Indiegogo campaign is offering them for $129 (£92) on an early bird.
But the noise-cancellation is superb, and they are comfortable, and smaller than most other wireless earbuds. The ability to play music would’ve been most welcome, but that would mean making them bigger – not to mention more expensive – and employing acoustic tech, which isn’t QuietOn’s area of expertise.
As they stand, they’re a niche product, sure, but one that could help couples tolerate each other’s presence in the bedroom. And what price can you put on that?