Excessive noise has long been a burden on our daily lives. Throughout the years, various means have been employed to try and deal with the problem. Today – as the industry continues to evolve – new methods are being developed to reduce noise disturbance as much as possible, such as widespread use of soundproofing materials when building housing. But there are other ways of cutting out the distractions of our environment, and it’s worth remembering the benefits of silence – vital in allowing you to rest and regain your balance. Indeed, an intense work schedule and a busy personal life sometime mean a person simply needs a chance to disconnect, providing them with a break from the constant barrage of noise that is the modern world.
A few words on the history of noise
In literature, the first mention of attempts to counteract the negative impact of noise exposure appeared in antiquity, in the work of Homer. In Book XII of the Odyssey, during the hero’s encounter with the Sirens – mythical beings that lure men to their death with their singing – he has his men stuff their ears with beeswax, in what is perhaps the first recorded use of makeshift earplugs. In terms of our world, it is said that noise was born in the 19th century with the Industrial Revolution. In the twentieth century, to help people fight it, earplugs as we know them today were created, with their basic design and purpose having changed little since.
It is worth mentioning here that in the early days of their use, many were skeptical of their efficiency in muffling sounds from the environment, let alone the need to do so in the first place. Thanks to the persistence of the chemist Ross Gardner and his team at the National Research Corporation, however, an enormous number of experiments led to a resin, then a polyvinyl-based foam, which were found to absorb noise, making earplugs far more effective and trusted.
Since the 1990s, our world has become ever more chaotic, the constant hustle and bustle of inner cities meaning many of us are now constantly surrounded by overwhelming levels of noise at decibels that can cause real harm. Thankfully, the problem can be dealt with in many ways.
How should we deal with excessive noise levels?
The most effective solution is to change our place of residence to somewhere quieter, but this is off course far easier said than done, with the cost and effort of moving home very high.
Many people try to get used to the noise, setting aside time to let off steam, relax and unwind, e.g., by doing yoga, or going to fitness, Zumba or Pilates classes. This kind of physical activity massively boosts the production of endorphins, also known as the happiness hormone. Fatigue (in the positive sense of the word) can also make you pay less attention to the world around you – and all the noise that comes with it.
Massages are another great way to relax and find peace. Most often, however, we tend to spend our leisure time at home, surrounded by equipment, people and sounds that we find familiar and comforting. As such, it’s also a good idea to devote yourself to your hobbies – dedicating time to the things we love can have a big soothing effect. Further useful tools in achieving mental calm include the use ambient recordings (like instrumental music, whale song, or running water), or to surround yourself with nature.
Modern earplugs – Hitting the 21st century!
Nowadays, earplugs are a necessity for many of us, an ideal alternative means of isolating ourselves from the world when we need to. Stoppers are used in many situations in which we are unable to eliminate the source of the noise itself, like concerts, or even street parties that can be heard through a window.
Earplugs are useful not only against unwanted noise at home, but also in the workplace when you need great concentration (or to protect your hearing, if you work on a building site for example). With the majority of us currently working from home, we need to be able to focus when there are often other people coming and going. As such, the use of earplugs when working remotely allows you to cut out the distraction of other household members.
We therefore distinguish between two types of stopper: work-at-home and office plugs. Throughout 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to find new ways of guarding ourselves against unwanted stimuli, and to maintain mental balance. For many, this facilitates the need for silence; snatched moments of solitude from the hectic world around us. But that’s not easy with a house full of children also having to study from home, equally in need of quiet and concentration.
Even by night, we are surrounded by noise. The long-term impact of excessive noise exposure can really knock someone’s mental wellbeing, however, which can in turn reduce our physical health. With rest and recuperation from daily stresses a must, earplugs are also popular while sleeping. During light sleep, we are still vulnerable to noise, often disturbed by the presence of our partners or the nightlife beyond our windows. This can make you wake up and cause difficulty getting back to sleep. No wonder so many people wouldn’t be without their earplugs!
When is it worth using earplugs?
We mentioned several of the scenarios in which you should consider using earplugs above, but there are many other instances in which they prove themselves invaluable. The first is to reduce the irritation of pressure spikes when travelling by plane. Appealing to children and adults alike, colorful earplugs have been created to ensure there’s something on the market for everyone!
Earplugs can be used to drown out the sound of traffic and fellow passengers when travelling, and with waterproof designs available, they can also be used to protect the inner ear when swimming.
Earplugs are useful when practicing many sports that expose you to loud noises, like shooting and speedway. They are also reached for by employees of large factories and industrial enterprises, and by musicians and DJs. You can even pop them in when you’re heading to the mall for a spot of shopping, shielding yourself from the barrage of background noise that awaits in busy public spaces.
Earplug manufacturers (including us) carefully categorize the plugs during production based on the selection of materials. Noise protection plugs are an important aid for people who are hypersensitive to sound, including many children and people living with disabilities. Even the most common every day noises like those mentioned above can cause such people physical pain and mental distress. This is why it is always worth showing patience and understanding, and why custom-made earplugs sculpted for each individual are becoming more and more popular.