I started wearing foam earplugs at night when we were trying to get Dylan to sleep through the night. They didn’t block the noise, not by a long shot, but they gave me a slight sense of removal from the situation that helped me grit my teeth and bear a few extra minutes of crying (before I inevitably got up and dealt with him because OMFG ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN THIS SHITUATION) (please enjoy my upcoming sleep training/potty training/bedwetting/disciplinary books: Consistency Is the Key To Success!).

I can’t sleep without them, now. There’s something about the ritual I go through every night — folding over a page in my book and stacking it on the nightstand, turning off the light, and scrunching up the earplugs before settling them in my ears — that’s like putting a cover on a birdcage. I like the muffled, fuzzy way I hear things, as though I’m buried deep in a soft pillow, or already half-asleep and dreaming. Our house isn’t loud, exactly, but it’s set up just like our old home: all three bedrooms are clustered together at the end of a wood hallway. Every snort and snuffle is magnified, and the instant I hear a kid shifting around in bed, I’m sent right back to those no-sleep nights of Dylan’s, instantly bathed in a full-body anxiety, waiting for someone to erupt into wakefulness with a blurry, rising cry: eh-heh, eh-heh, eh-heh, EHHHHHHHHHHH.

Not that anyone wakes up like that these days, but I guess I haven’t quite shaken the memories. This is the same reason I jump like a startled forest animal when someone coughs, because YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BARF ARE YOU????

Anyway, I’ve also found that earplugs an essential item for tent camping, because they make all the difference between lying there wide-eyed and straining to hear the hook-handed psycho killer/slobbering grizzly that’s surely lurking just outside the flap, and actually, you know, sleeping. Too bad they don’t eliminate that 3 AM appointment with stumbling out in the pitch-dark and nervously peeing on your own foot, but I guess you can’t have everything.

I forgot them a while back when we were visiting JB’s parents’ house, and it was awful. AWFUL. I honestly felt like my nerves were lit up like a Christmas tree. I could hear people breathing. Molecules were banging around and the fibers of the sheets were making noise and ugh. The worst. Clearly they’ve become a habit, and I guess that’s not great … but I’ve had worse addictions, is all I can say.

This is the part where it probably seems like I’m going to wrap things up by saying this thrilling post was sponsored by Sealy Posturepedic Mattresses or something, but really, I’m just curious: do you have any sleep requirements? Something you absolutely must have — a pillow, a sound machine, a fistful of Unisom — in order to fall asleep?

Screen shot 2012-10-23 at 1.25.47 PM

Pink! Because like the Bic for Her, they’re for LADIES.


175 Responses to “Shuteye”

  1. The Other Megan on October 25th, 2012 6:46 pm

    No Must Haves, but when I need to sleep for serious, I get out the earplugs, too. I never snooze more deeply than when I’m wearing those suckers. The only reason I don’t use them every night is that I just can’t get over the icky “there’s something in my ear get it out GET IT OUT” feeling they give me for more than a night or two.

    When my brain is spinning and clawing like a squirrel in a box, nothing shuts me down like the Andrew Johnson hypnotism apps. They’re on both Apple and Android now, I believe. Side effect: whenever I hear a Scottish man speak, I get a little sleepy.

  2. threewildthings on October 25th, 2012 7:44 pm

    I have a bedtime habit that also comes in the form of two pink things (yikes, that sounds pervy). Two Benadryl tablets. They put me out so quickly and into such a deep sleep, I’m hooked. I figure they’re pretty harmless. If I don’t take them, I’m staring at the ceiling for an hour, going over and over the trivial minutiae of my life and trying to turn my brain off.

    I might have to try the ear plug idea. With three little boys at home — heck — I might even try them out during daytime hours too. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Stephanie on October 26th, 2012 9:28 am

    I need to stop reading this thread at work because I am laughing my ass off! SO great to see people as jacked up as me.

  4. Jennifer on October 26th, 2012 10:52 am

    OK I have to get in on this. I’m a pretty easy sleeper – can sleep through noise, lights in the room, cars passing by outside. Can sleep in camping tents, in planes, passenger seat of the moving car etc. But the one thing I MUST have: my night-guard (fits over teeth, minimizes damage from overnight mouth/tooth grinding). And I can’t snap it into place without first brushing, flossing, and gargling with the fluoride rinse. I guess I’m a bit of a tooth-obsessive.

  5. Joanna on October 26th, 2012 5:07 pm

    Body pillow! I need something to snuggle with or I cannot sleep.

  6. Michelle on October 27th, 2012 6:48 am

    Eye mask and one (just one) ear plug, which I take out and put in the other ear when I roll over. I started doing this back in my single days when I lived next to a freeway and a car dealership – wanted to drown out the L.A. traffic but still be able to hear the ax-wielding maniac entering my apartment.
    Now I use it to drown out my husband’s snores without completely deafening me to any cries of peril from my 4 year old in the night (we *just* got through a round of croup which ended in a dash to the ER because he literally couldn’t breathe, so I’m still a little shell-shocked)

  7. Fidi on October 28th, 2012 12:38 am

    The husband! I don’t sleep well when he is away, much better when he is in the house and best when he already sleeps and I hear his peaceful breathing next to me. (I have one of the rare species who rarely snore.) Oh, and I need a blanket and a pajama. Otherwise I will dream that I am naked whih is almost as annoying as dreaming of having to pee.

  8. Shawna on October 28th, 2012 4:48 pm

    I’ve only become aware of it relatively recently, but I suspect I’ve always been this way: I cannot fall asleep without the backs of my hands pressed to something (pillow, mattress, my own shoulder, etc.) I think I may also need a pillow or blanket snugged up against my belly too (spooning with me at the back also works for this).

    I know it’s weird – especially the first thing – but what can you do?

  9. joaaanna on October 28th, 2012 7:06 pm

    I always, always must have a fan blowing. Freezing cold house, don’t care, the stagnant air drives me insane. Now that I have a baby, I have a monitor on, but a sound machine in his room set at wind or ocean or something… third one down on the left is the only thing I know. Now I must have his sound machine playing coming on over the monitor. A pillow between my knees, a cuddle pillow, start on my right, eventually turn on my left, then return to my right. Zzzzzzzzz. (I always get excited when I turn from my left to my right because I KNOW I’m about to fall asleep.)

  10. Telegirl on October 28th, 2012 8:46 pm

    I agree with the ibuprofen PM to get to sleep. And I have used the pink earplugs but don’t be as freaked as I was the first time you used a Q-tip afterwards. :)

  11. Jennifer on October 29th, 2012 7:14 pm

    My fan.. every night … even when it is freezing in the winter.

  12. Steph on October 29th, 2012 11:05 pm

    I have to sleep with a box fan on. Every night, no matter WHAT the temperature.

    It all started a few years ago when I kept getting woken up by my husband getting ready for work (2 hours earlier than I needed to be up). It would drive me crazy, so eventually I turned to a box fan for white noise. It’s very helpful.

    I’m pregnant now, so I’m not sure if I’ll be using it once the baby is here… but we’ll see.

  13. Jenn on October 30th, 2012 4:11 am

    I didn’t like ear plugs, but I always wear a sleep mask to block out light, and nearly always have a fan on near my head for white noise.

  14. anne on October 31st, 2012 7:58 am

    I have to have NPR on. My station plays BBC news from midnight till 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday; I leave it on all night. Weekends are problematic because there’s a jazz show on from midnight to five and I can’t stand jazz… so I tend to resort to scratchy a.m. talk radio. Cannot sleep without the voices.

    This comment section has been very funny to read! Thank you. :)

  15. sooboo on November 2nd, 2012 9:58 pm

    I swear I am not high maintenance in any other arena except when I sleep. Must haves: earplugs (must be wax, not foam), dark room, door 3/4 closed. I always sleep on my side and I need something small (like a t-shirt or small blanket) wedged in the small of my back. I also take 1/2 a generic sleeping pill most nights. I started wearing the earplugs because my husband snores but even when he got a c-pap machine, I cannot live without them. Earplugs are definitely habit forming. So many noises at night!

  16. sofunny on November 5th, 2012 3:09 pm

    (oh my, these were so funny to read. I agree with honeybecke that someone needs to start a book on this topic, complete with pictures.)

    1) Closet doors closed ALL the way
    2) Entire body in bed; No appendages hanging out.
    3) Have to change into clean, no thong, underwear, and tank top.

    Business time:
    I have to start off reading a book on my back. When I turn on my left side, I know I’m getting sleepy and I bookmark (no folding!) my page, turn off my light, and fall asleep on my stomach. Happens every time.

  17. Kim on November 18th, 2012 12:41 pm

    I remembered my own weirdness (on top of the blessed, blessed earplugs (and I do stillhear my kids, promise)) I need an extra pillow perpendicular for my top arm, and I tuck the blanket and comforter under the other hand. Partly that’s a blanket steal preventer, but it also makes a sling on those nights when I get shoved to the edge of the bed by little people.

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