As someone who is oversensitive to touch, I find headphone to be painful. I can't wear an "on-hear" headphone and even the "around-hear" can be painful if I wear them for too long. Worst, if I need to use my glasses at the same time (to be on the computer for example), I'm unable to do so because of the pain.

I'm also oversensitive to noise (but less than to touch) and I would like to have some solution to "cancel noise" in everydays situations (in the open space, in a crowded place, etc...).

Due to my oversensitive touch, a noise-canceling headphone isn't a solution. However, I think something similar to an Ostrich Pillow could be a solution (but not the real version since I want to be able to see things).

Ostrich Pillow

So, I was wondering if you had some DIY tutorial I could follow to make a comfortable noise-canceler (or just a product that fit my need I could buy)? It doesn't need to be for making some kind of Ostrich Pillow, I'm open to other solution as well. I'm also open to solutions for a noise-canceler that you can't easily cart around and who isn't supposed to move after you have installed it (for an open-office scenario for example).

Note and clarifications:

  • Earphones are even worst than on-hear headphone and, for this reason, I'm pretty sure earplugs won't do.

  • If you want to have an idea of how oversensitive touch is like, here are some example:

    • I hate slim and believe they are the most uncomfortable thing ever. For this reason, I only wear large trousers (and cloth in general).
    • Tights are awful, they feel too weird and I can't focus on anything else while wearing them.
    • I don't use nail polish on my fingers because the sensation of having this on my fingers feel too weird (but my toes are fine with nail polish).
    • I don't tie my hair because "they don't like" being bent another way. And, when I do tie them, it becomes painful after a time.
  • Here are some parts of my body that are more fine with touch:

    • The top of my head. I don't mind wearing a hood and winter cap are fine (but, strangely, sun cap are less fine).
    • My shoulders. I'm used to wearing a backpack and so, I believe that something who would weigh on my shoulders will be fine.

The big point to remember:

  • My ears are the most sensitive part of my body and anything putting pressure on them is a big no (I even have a system to be able to sleep on the side without my ears touching the pillow).
  • 1
    I kinda know what you mean with the nail polish thing; feels like my nails are suffocating/can't breathe when I wear nail polish – Caius Jard Nov 13 at 20:42

Would simple earplugs help? There are a variety of designs, including memory foam plugs that gradually expand in your ear. You may be able to find a set that fits gently and doesn't bother you.

memory foam ear plugs

  • As earphones are really painful for me, I'm pretty sure earplugs won't do :/ – Noon Nov 7 at 14:39
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    Out of experience, (I can not stand earphones but I am indifferent to the foam earplugs,) try earplugs at least once. The foam plugs @BrettFromLA mentions are not bad, but even less a problem will be wax earplugs. You buy them as little balls of wax and form them yourself to your ears. They do fit perfectly without putting on pressure on your ears. (If they do put pressure, just take them out and shape them a tiny bit smaller on that point to take away the problem. – Willeke Nov 7 at 17:50
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    Considering how cheap earplugs are (I often see them handed out at events; they're cheaper than pens usually), I would second that you should at least try them. They are designed for workers to use for long periods of time (whereas earbuds and headphones usually aren't). – Graytr Nov 7 at 23:27

This is not really an answer, but something for you to bear in mind:

Sense tend to adjust; the more you try to spare them the more acute they become. If your sensitivity to sound isn't that bad (if it is just unpleasant, but doesn't give you headaches, for example) I really wouldn't advise you to block everyday noise. This would make your sensitivity even worse eventually.

  • Noise tends to exhaust me, so blocking long and strong noise is definitively something I want to do. – Noon Nov 9 at 15:21

Use noise-cancelling directional loudspeakers (once available).

I looked into this technology around 2010 when I tried to find a noise-cancelling solution for a friend who had to sleep in a noisy environment. There were some scientific studies and experiments, but no products for "noise-cancelling speakers".

Maybe you have more luck now, but I'm not aware of any ready-made products yet :( I found only a working prototype called SONO. It was presented in 2013, but is not available on the market yet. Also it's not a directional loudspeaker but meant to filter / cancel noises coming in through glass windows – but it would be a partial solution already.

But technically there is no reason against this. Earphones are also "just" small loudspeakers, and the noise-cancelling ones produce the opposite phase for each sound wave. This same principle can be used in directional loudspeakers. There are attempts to create highly directional loudspeakers from the interference of ultrasonic sounds. Not a DIY solution though …

  • That's a really interesting solution. Unfortunately, as you noted, there isn't any ready-made product yet. But I will definitively keep an eye on that! – Noon Nov 10 at 7:39

If the only issue with the ostrich pillow is that you can't see, why don't you just cut eye holes into it?

  • It cost 100€ and I don't want to pay that much for something that I might ruin afterward (by cutting into it). Also, I'm a bit afraid that the pillow will be too tight and that I would need to do even more of cutting. – Noon Nov 12 at 19:58

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