So for about a month, I have been doing this very very weird thing. It’s called “sleeping.” You know, as in lie down, close your eyes, wake up a few hours later all “rested” and stuff? That thing? That thing that I had completely forgotten existed and thought it was simply one of those things that passed once childhood fell away, like running after the ice cream truck or actually expecting a reward from the tooth fairy (and not having to provide said reward).
I was going to say I wasn’t sure when the whole “sleeping” thing stopped, but I suspect it was early on in college. I didn’t want to miss anything, so I would go out with friends, party, then come back to the dorm and try to study, and then still get up to get to my very strict, tough 7:30 in the freaking morning graphics design class (which I loved). (Had that been math? Or chemistry? I’d have slept in.) I started functioning on about three hours of sleep a night, if I was lucky.
Then, not terribly long after that, I met my husband, got married, had a baby, and the entire concept of sleep seemed like a dim hallucination. Luke (first born) screamed for nine months with colic. There wasn’t that much that we knew to do then–there weren’t the solutions that moms have now with some of the medications you can give infants for colic. I’d go days without real sleep, and got to the point of such total meltdown exhaustion, I’m genuinely surprised I wasn’t a soggy, drooling heap of crying human curled up in a fetal position in the corner of the room. Well, you know, more than that couple of times there toward month #9.
The problem was, by the time Luke started sleeping regularly, I’d trained myself not to. I’d gotten so used to sleeping three hours a night, that I just could not sleep longer than that. I would occasionally take about an hour nap in the middle of the day, but that was it. And four hours a day just isn’t healthy. Duh. Still, that’s what I did… for about 25 more years.
Fast forward through a lot of attempts at a lot of different solutions to the one I finally found that fit me last month. A doctor friend suggested white noise, which I think I’d tried once before and had only felt agitated, but thought that surely there had been improvements since then. I wanted to try something before committing, so I found a waterfall recording on iTunes. Now, I just sort of stumbled across this and downloaded it for a whopping 99¢ — it is only 9:15 long, so I set it to loop continuously, plugged my nice soft earphones in and tried it out.
I slept like a rock. Completely zonked out.
Woke up rested. Holy moley, people, this is what normal humans feel after sleeping? I could play every position on a football team with this sort of great energy and alertness. After a couple of days, I thought–hmmm, ya know, I’m not real happy with the looping because there’s a moment of silence at the end of that “music” as it loops back again, and sometimes, if I’ve just drifted off, that moment of silence kinda clicks, I wake up a little, and then it takes another full round to fall asleep. So, being the clever girl I am, I thought, “I’ll go find something that’s an hour long, loop that, and by the time it gets to the looping part, I’ll be sound asleep.” Sounds fairly reasonable, right?
So I find this ocean waves recording, and the album cover even has a photo of a sleeping baby. I listen to the sample that iTunes has and it sounds lovely. Peaceful. So I buy the album, download it, and trot off to bed, confident that I was going to fall asleep even faster.
By minute forty-five, I wanted to commit murder, I was so tense. Seriously. The waves were CRASHING and then CRASHING SOME MORE and then a pause and just when you thought it was safe, there was MORE CRASHING. Holy geez, that thing was stressful. I kept flinching and bracing myself for the next onslaught and how in the world anyone actually sleeps with that stuff is beyond me.
I immediately went back to my silly waterfall and conked out.
Upon further investigation, I had completely lucked up on that waterfall. It’s modulated at 7Hz, and apparently, that’s the sound wave level that helps a person relax. (I am not going to get all technical here because that would require actual research. All I know is, it works.) There apparently were other waterfall sounds from that same album that were modulated at other Hz and were designed for “inspiration” or “creativity” or “jumping jacks.” I may have made that last one up. But the point is, I got lucky. Had I started off with the ocean wave one, it wouldn’t have worked for me and I probably would have written off the whole experiment. The waterfall sounds like a beautiful rainy day to me. No thunder, obviously, but just that slow, steady, soothing rain. Nothing dangerous. For some people, the most soothing sound in the world might be the ocean waves (weirdos) or trains or traffic or whatever is true white noise for you.
[Per the advice of my doctor friend, I also changed my sleeping time back to my original body-clock time, which is very very late in the night/early morning. I am a night owl, and fighting that wasn’t doing me any good.]
So, do you sleep? I am here to tell you, it’s pretty cool. Have trouble? Are you one of those terribly lucky people who just lie down and fall asleep? Do you have a routine that helps you? If not, I feel your pain. I’ll be curious if I’m the only night-owl insomniac here. 😉
(If someone can tell me how to find the link on my iTunes, I can link to it. I can see it on my list of purchased items, but I don’t see a link that I can share.)