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.

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Heather
Heather
10 years ago

White noise machine set to “ocean” on full blast in our bedroom. This is also left over from when our children were infants. I cannot imagine sleeping without it, the silence keeps me awake, I totally need noise to sleep.

Kate
Kate
10 years ago

I’m with you. I had to sleep without earplugs the other night (because the last pair in the box had been used waaay too many times – they no longer sprang back after I squooshed them)and it was the loudest, longest night of my life. I had to go downstairs to the sofa and I could still hear my husband snoring, the clock ticking and chiming every gd half hour, the traffic, the dog shifting and sighing. I am addicted as well, and I will never run out of them again. NEVAH!

jennb33
jennb33
10 years ago

I can not sleep without our sound machine. Conversely, if I am still reading when my husband turns it on, I become like Pavlov’s best dog and my eyes start slamming shut automatically.
It is awesome.
And I love my tempurpedic mattress, too.

Chloe
10 years ago

So just to be clear, you can just LEAVE your earplugs sitting adorably on your nightstand like that, and the cat doesn’t hijack them without 30 minutes and eats or knocks them irretrievably under something? Because I can’t ever leave earplugs out. Just sitting there. Not even in a bowl. Huh?

Erm… I really hate to sleep in pants. Undies only, please. Also my feet must be covered by the blankets, and either a ceiling pan or stand fan on. But I generally manage to fall asleep in the rare cases where I can’t have it my way (but camping trips = worst sleep EVAR).

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
10 years ago

I sleep with a stuffed Humpty Dumpty over my ear (don’t judge). I cannot sleep without something over my ear, if I don’t I hear EVERYTHING. I wore ear plugs for awhile, my Husband has sleep apnea and snores LOUD but they gave me bad ear infections :(

Erica
10 years ago

I have a white noise app on my phone that MUST be running a combination of rain and crackling fire. Oh and the ceiling fan. I can’t stand for the air to be still.

Sheryl
Sheryl
10 years ago

Oh, yeah. Law and Order (either SVU or Criminal Intent) playing on Netflix on the laptop on my nightstand. I must have the dulcet tones of rape and murder investigation on in the background or sleep isn’t happening. Also: window open, ceiling fan on the “gale force” setting.

Michelle
Michelle
10 years ago

So glad I’m not alone in my earplug addiction! I swear that since having kids every sound is magnified, of course only while I’m trying to sleep. Including my husband’s snoring. I also became addicted to my body pillow during pregnancy (7 years ago) and an extra pillow over my head to block out even more noise, and any light that creeps through the blackout curtains. Whenever I’m sleeping away from home it’s so embarrassing to have an extra suitcase just for my pillows. But not embarrassing enough to wean myself off of them.

Lisa
10 years ago

I’ve slept in ear plugs since about two days into our marriage (so almost 22 years). My husband breathes like Darth Vader, and triggers my misophonia like whoa. Which ALSO triggers my anxiety about HAVING misophonia, which means no sleep for me.

Even if I’m by myself, I have to have my earplugs in. Even when I had babies: earplugs. I can’t sleep without them.

Penne
10 years ago

Window open, fan on low, Get Some Zzzz’s tea. Which I recently noticed “can be habit forming.” No duh.

pam
pam
10 years ago

white noise machine (stole it from the kids) set to beach noises, which i don’t even hear anymore, but i know if i turned it off i’d never sleep again.

but the big one is my breathe-right nose strips. i buy them in bulk off eBay, and must wear one every night, lest i wake up thinking my nose is trying to smother me (thanks a lot, small nostrils.)

Janet in Miami
Janet in Miami
10 years ago

Fan. Loud old fan. Can’t sleep well without it.

Emily
Emily
10 years ago

The nights when my husband goes away I sleep with my cellphone & house phone on the nightstand, and a flashlight and dandelion weeder under the pillow next yo me. And if he’s home, I can’t go to sleep if he turns out his light before me.

Ang
Ang
10 years ago

Every summer I become addicted to the fan and then in the fall I have to TRY to wean off of it. This year it was easier than usual. Plus Bennadryl for nights when I know I won’t sleep without it, about once a week, sometimes more. And my daughter is addicted to her white noise machine too!

JudithNYC
JudithNYC
10 years ago

Noise machine for me and if I am feeling specially tense a fan too. And I have to be sure all the windows and doors are locked. I don’t obsess over the windows and doors, it’s not like I have to check them but if I know one is open cannot sleep.

Cindy
Cindy
10 years ago

Must smear lips with chapstick and have hands lotioned. You’d think I’d have baby-soft skin, but the dry air of SE Washington leaves me feeling/looking like an alligator.

Jan Ross
10 years ago

I don’t judge anyone ( but stuffed humpty dumpty – hee) because my husband and I both must have a fan to sleep. It’s really a pain because we are travel writer/photographer so have to pack our fan. No small carryon only for us because that sucker holds the fan. If anyone else needs a small, loud travel fan, we found the Vornado from Target is perfect after much experimentation and telling sales people that we wanted a loud fan, not a quiet fan. Thank God we are married because nobody else would have us. If the power goes out and the fan turns off, we both snap awake instantly.

Lucy
Lucy
10 years ago

I work nights, so I’m asleep while the rest of the world is busy going about life. Sound machine on “Babbling Brook,” ceiling fan on medium, phone set to “Do Not Disturb,” and 3mg of melatonin.

I used ear plugs for a few years, but the sound machine is far superior. I sleep like a hibernating bear when I’m camping, but probably has something to do with that babbling brook I always try to camp by…

Lindsey
10 years ago

I like a fan blowing right on me. I can hardly sleep without it. When I travel I bring the same foam earplugs you talk about, and those kind of help, but I always miss my fan. I can’t believe how rigid I have become in my old age about sleep!! Sort of glad to know I’m not alone :).

KateB
KateB
10 years ago

http://www.amazon.com/Howard-Leight-Earplugs-Uncorded-NRR33/dp/B0013A0C0Y/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1351026205&sr=8-6&keywords=earplugs

These are the best and I’ve tried them all. The box is HUGE.

I take nightly sleeping pills, use a white noise machine, must use the ear plugs AND a face mask (the slightest hint of the sun wakes me up), and my husband uses a C-PAP machine so his snoring doesn’t wake me up. I am a peach to sleep with, let me tell you.

Laura
Laura
10 years ago

I have to have some kind of sound- radio, tv, podcast, whatever. I’ve been like that since I was a kid and I know it is because my parents used to listen to a radio show at night and it was soothing. I also have pretty bad anxiety and night times are hard so the sound is distracting. I cannot fall asleep if it is quiet.

Ashley the Accidental Olympian

I not only am unable to sleep without ear plugs (once took toilet paper and wadded it into my ears when I was without those blissful babies) I am also becoming obsessed with using a sleep mask. The whole midnight sun in Alaska thing in the summer was irritating the first summer, so this summer I got an eye mask. Now it feels so lovely in my no hearing, no seeing world I am still using the mask in the WINTER. When it’s dark always.

I am so cute to sleep next to.

Francesca
10 years ago

Any dark material over my eyes. Often a t-shirt of some kind but I have been known to try and fit a pair of size 2-4 Spider-Man undies over my eyes in pure desperation. I’ve had this idiosyncrasy for some time, before children. It’s strange for sure but it works and it leaves my husband rest assured that no one else would want to share a bed with this freak!

charlene
charlene
10 years ago

I have my cpap machine, my feather pillow to snuggle/pluck/twist maim to calm me and my face mask. I have scared my 8yr old with this look. I’m a freak sleeper and there is no apologizing for it.

Valria
10 years ago

OMG, this thread is killing me. I keep coming back to check the comments. Gold Linda!

I got nothing to add however, no earplugs, no noise machine, no clothes. I’m the person you hate, closes eyes and falls asleep in 5 min. Anywhere with any light/noise combo. (Yes I realize I just jinxed myself)

liz
liz
10 years ago

Interestingly,.I can do either earplugs or white noise, preferably a fan. I have 6″ fan that travels with me for this purpose. I was forced to try earplugs at burning man (lack of electricity and lots of noise) and was surprised at my success. I still haven’t completely solved the foreign travel conundrum – in Germany I fried the fan inside of 2 minutes (220v outlet fail), followed by forgetting my ipod at my cousin’s apt; in Morocco I didn’t even try for a fan, but the earplugs did me fine for every night after the first, when the sunrise call to prayer jolted me wide awake at 5 a.m. The other reason for the fan is that I don’t like the sealed-in-tupperware feeling without moving air, whether it be an open window or a fan or whatever. That will keep me as awake as noise or utter silence.

pdxhadey
10 years ago

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I HAVE to wash my face and brush my teeth before I go to bed. (Does this count?) If I happen to fall asleep without having done that first, I will actually wake up with a start, and not be able to get back to sleep until I get up and do those two things. What can I say, I’m HYGIENIC…

NancyJ
NancyJ
10 years ago

I only use earplugs in the summer if the air conditioner HAS TO be on at night. Sometimes my hub and I have a standoff on that issue. If it was on at night when i went to bed, the rule before the earplugs was – if I wake up in the middle of the night, it goes off. But between intense heat and hot flashes this summer even I needed it on. So I used earplugs. Totally did the trick!

Elisabeth
Elisabeth
10 years ago

We live in Southern California, where people can survive comfortably for most of the year without air conditioning, but in the summer months, we leave our fans running 24/7.

Our first winter here we learned how deafening the silence can be when trying to sleep that first night without the humming of the fans. It took forever to get used to! Thankfully, I was able to solve this the same way I solve almost any other problem in my life: by looking for an iPhone app. The white noise app saved me!

Amy
Amy
10 years ago

I’m addicted to the same pink ear plugs. They’re what has kept my mouth-breathing-like-a-pipe-organ husband alive the past seven years.

I prefer a cool room, dark, and quiet (thus, ear plugs).

Julie
Julie
10 years ago

A fan, always a fan, or a white noise app if I’m traveling. I can’t sleep without something making consistent noise, but it can’t be waves or anything that’s not constant. This is even if I’ve taken an ambien, so I’m really screwed when it comes to sleep.

Julie
Julie
10 years ago

Oh! And I can’t do ear plugs because I then hear my heart beating more and it drives me CRAZY.

Melissa
Melissa
10 years ago

Uh, my husband snores like a freight train and sleeps on the couch. No animosity, but we are very well rested.

I sleep across the foot of the bed on a room darkened by blackout shades with the alarm clock face down (watching time tick away makes me tense). I must fall asleep with the sleep timer set to 30 minutes starting at Jay Leno’s monologue. No socks ever and one foot sticking out from under the covers. Also, bathroom fan running. I also have a pair of “sleeping glasses” that are mangled and bent that I wear as I drift off (I’m pretty blind) that I take off and set on the pillow next to me. That way if a kid cries I don’t have to search for them. I can be ready to go. I wish I could add a picture so you could see how mangled they are.

I’m glad we are a a little crazy.

Brianna
Brianna
10 years ago

Fan on high, pointed right at me. Four pillows. One for my feet, one between my knees, one to hold onto and one for my head and I must be able to hear the Pink Floyd Rock A Bye Baby CD over the baby monitor. We recently went to Italy and my husband and I couldn’t fall asleep until we put on the kids music (no, the kids weren’t with us). We’ve listened to that CD every single night for 4 years.

Morgan
Morgan
10 years ago

My #1 necessity is a sleep mask. I started using it in college, and even in a dark room with blackout curtains, I still have to have it on. My boyfriend and I also sleep with our window AC unit on all year. Even when the heat is on, we still have our AC set to 61 degrees to keep the fan running all night for the white noise. I swear, I am so lucky he’s a silent sleeper, or I would banish him to the guest room. Also, I HAVE to fall asleep laying a certain way: mostly on my stomach with one knee bent so one leg is at a right angle, and with one hand curled into a fist under my chin. Sounds completely insane, I know, but what can I say? I’m a little OCD.

Katharine
10 years ago

1. as dark as possible; light-emitting CLOCKS don’t work, or even the rising/falling glowing light from a Mac laptop

2. closet door CLOSED, not cracked, not ajar, not all the way open, CLOSED (since childhood)

3. certain bouncy pillow

4. husband sleeping peacefully beside

5. tempurpedic mattress, everything else unfortunately feels like a board

6. pants, not shorts

If I’m missing some of these elements, a white-noise app on my phone or Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats” on my laptop will sometimes do it, but to sleep soundly through the night, I have to have all six. (Camping AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA did that ever suck.) It makes me feel like Marie Antoinette, but here we all are, right?

willikat
10 years ago

I need my two pillows, and I arrange them crosswise so my arm can go around one and the other arm goes underneath. And now my sleep requirements are changing, as I get more and more pregnant. I do prefer the sound of a fan but I can go without it. I also like to sleep like a burrito in my covers, which makes me a terrible sheet-stealer. Oh! And feet tucked in, always. But fantastically, I am a really good sleeper. (I thank my lucky stars every day).

Courtney
Courtney
10 years ago

Eye mask. Bought it for flights to Europe last fall, and now it’s like my security blanket. I just can’t seem to shut out the external stuff in our very dark bedroom without it. Downside: sometimes I get sweaty and it results in pimples.

Earplugs anywhere but at home. I’m usual fine at home (for now, ask me in a month when I have a newborn), by in other places I’m all *whatsthatsound!?” Ticking clocks are THE WORST.

willikat
10 years ago

Oh! Yes, my bedroom door MUST be closed.

Shannan
Shannan
10 years ago

TV. Every night. But I must go through each channel to find something even though I usually end up with The Family Guy or an old movie. The channel flipping part usually takes longer than falling asleep. Even when I am soooo tired I can barely channel flip, I MUST channel flip.

Catherine
Catherine
10 years ago

white noise app on my iphone!

Lucy
Lucy
10 years ago

Have to start my night lying on my left, then turn onto my right just as I’m about to go to sleep. Cannot sleep at all if my husband is facing me.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago

Must have my ears covered. Can not sleep if I feel air breezing over my ears. This is unfortunate because my husband can’t sleep unless a fan is on. Solved by wearing hoodie to bed (v. sexy btw). Also must go to sleep on my side and have blanket tucked between my knees because I’m getting old and the joints hurt stacked on each other. Phew! Feel a little less weird now.

Donna
Donna
10 years ago

Oh, this was fun — I’m feeling pretty ‘normal’ now about my little orange foam-y earplugs. I may have to force my “Earplugs? Why on earth do you wear EARPLUGS?” friends to read these entries! :) I started wearing them after many many many nights of ruined sleep and escalating levels of resentment because of my husband’s snoring. But a couple of years ago, he lost some weight and the snoring gene, too! :) I’m now able to sleep without the earplugs most of the time but still sometimes use one in the “outward facing ear” just as a . . . .security blanket, I guess. (Have to fall asleep on my stomach with my head on my right arm.) And an extra packet or two ALWAYS stay in my travel make-up bag so I don’t have to worry about forgetting to pack them — just in case there is snoring or weird noises in strange hotel rooms!

Krissa
Krissa
10 years ago

HOW do you sleep in ear plugs?!?! Because I love that fuzzed-out sound/feeling, but I cannot abide the pressure in my ear canals. The weird latex ones that…I guess it kind of lays OVER your ear hole? That was even worse. Maybe it’s because I sleep on my side?

I need a sound machine, now that the apt complex has turned off the swamp coolers and I can’t sleep in the silence with my love snoring/shifting/breathing SO LOUDLY GAWD. I actually shushed him last night, much to our mutual morning amusement.

honeybecke
honeybecke
10 years ago

One foot out at all times.
A “u”neck pillow to support my side sleeping neck, two flat as hell feather pillows stacked juuust so under my head, and two fat pillows for between my knees. Fluffy down duvet gathered and hugged in my arms which also must be under the flat feather pillows. All of it. Every night.
Oh I love this thread. We’re all a bunch of nuts. But! Sleep is not to be fucked with!

Megan
10 years ago

I’m also one who needs an eye mask, a very specific one that won’t brush my eyelashes. When I travel I pack it in my carry on just in case I get stuck in a strange city without my carry-on luggage and I have to stay overnight. I have backups and I fear the day they stop making the one I like.

melanie
melanie
10 years ago

I have to sleep in sleep pants and tank top which my husband finds ridiculous in the winter (as your legs stay covered more than your arms), but i dont like how restricting sleeves feel LOL… other than that and a fairly firm mattress I am pretty good to go. OH except I cannot sleep wearing socks and often in the winter one foot will be hanging out of the covers, my Dad always did this too so maybe its an inherited quirk.

And on my gosh can I second the cough OMG are they gonna puke part… my daughter is pretty darn good at that particular trick, and I just gotta say on the rare out of town nights where I sleep in the same room as my children, I cannot help but wonder about all the co-sleepers out there, I mean how are they not walking zombies??

Cynthea
Cynthea
10 years ago

cool/cold-ish room, a blanket at least (not for warmth necessarily, it’s more like I need the weight of it to snuggle with), foot sticking out of the covers to regulate body temp, on side curled up and preferably it’s raining for real. If not, may I present my iphone.

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