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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Kelley O
Kelley O
10 years ago

1. teddy bear I’ve had since 1990 whose head is smooshed from sleeping between “the girls” for 22 years (I’m almost 49)
2. bayou sound track on old MP3 player all night
3. tempurpedic pillow, left arm underneath it straight out
4. a down pillow behind it for my left hand so it doesn’t get cold sticking out in the open air
5. preferably at least one cat between my feet, two if it’s really cold
6. NO SNORING BED PARTNER!!!! (not even a snoring cat is allowed)

Sande
Sande
10 years ago

Socks on feet because I can’t afford a pedicure and snagging the sheets is not an option. Closet door closed, bedroom door open. Fan on medium or high blowing on me. Sound machine in baby’s room coming through the monitor. Video monitor on all night making a nice nightlight. Preferrably a non-snoring husband beside me, but that NEVER happens. I have to fall asleep before him or else I am up all night. Vaseline on my lips. Body pillow against the rail of the waterbed…yes people I just referenced the 1970’s waterbed. Brushed teeth and washed face…and empty bladder. LOL

Kim
Kim
10 years ago

Xanax. But now also, after years of having trained the husband I require NO LIGHT, NO SOUND, NO SENSE STIMULATION in order to sleep, we ended up with a great new TV in the bedroom and now we fall asleep to the ID murder channel every night. I don’t get it.

beth
beth
10 years ago

try wearing your earplugs in walmart! Totally improved experience!

Meagan
10 years ago

I’m a horrible sleeper. I’d love some random sleep requirement that let me sleep consistently. Instead I end up with dependencies that become MORE variables contributing to insomnia.

Sarah
10 years ago

A fan, even in the dead of winter. I cannot sleep without it and I’ve now created fan addicts out of my husband and two small children. We’re a nightmare when we visit somewhere…

Gigi
10 years ago

Ha! I loved this! And may have to add ear plugs to my routine.

I need three pillows – one between my knees, one to hug and one for my head. TV on, but on very, very low and no other noise. In the summer no pants, just undies and a top. In the winter; long pants tucked into socks because holy hell those sheets are cold in the winter.

(Long time reader; VERY bad commenter)

deanna
10 years ago

I worked 12-hour night shift (7pm to 7am) for years, thus necessitating frequent daytime sleeping. i lived in NYC at the time, so i had a lot of street noise to deal with. i tried plugging my ears, but because i am apparently a houdini when i sleep, they always came out. i tried white noise (fans, tv/radio to static, iphone apps) all to no avail because the street noise was still too loud. i ended up having the best luck sleeping with the tv on (i would usually end up falling asleep to the today show! ha!) and have been unable to sleep without the tv on since. there were a few trips where i slept in a room with no tv…thank god for my iphone! not the best thing, but also not the worst. im just happy to have been able to not have to need meds… and now that i work a normal 9-5 type job, i sleep solid….with the tv on!

Nicole
10 years ago

Yeah, I suck at sleeping. 1-2 glasses of red wine… Body positioned on my left side… Vornado fan set to high and blowing directly up my nose… dense pillow between my knees, feather pillow under my head and light foam pillow on top of my head – eyes covered by the pillow and nose and mouth exposed to the wind tunnel that is my room. The temp should be below 70 (preferably 65) and the blankets should be down. All that pomp and circumstance and I still wake-up 5 times a night for no apparent reason. Add 1 husband with severe sleep apnea and a 4 year old with asthma and it’s a wonder I sleep at all. I’ve decided that sharing a bed is highly overrated.

Rhea
Rhea
10 years ago

No advice, I’ve got my own issues with no successful answers. Question though….night stand, where from?

Maureen
Maureen
10 years ago

I’ve slept with earplugs since 1984. I used to live on a farm that had air cannons to keep the birds away, so I started using them then. I am addicted and can’t sleep without them. Probably why I was able to marry my husband, who snores like a bear!

Laura M.
Laura M.
10 years ago

Mack’s purple ear plugs. All the other brands I tried made my ears itch something awful all day. My man snores and sometimes gets told, even if I have ear plugs in, to “turn the other way!” But I shoot out of bed screaming nonsense when I have nightmares some nights and he said that one night he was worried I would jump out the window. (We are on the 3rd floor.) There are no ear plugs for your lady going bonkers in the middle of the night and then wanting to be comforted, so I guess my little purple ear plugs ain’t too bad. :D

Amie
10 years ago

ME TOO!! OMG this post made me feel validated in a way – I thought I was the only closeted earplug addict out there! That soothing sound of the foam expanding in my ear canal takes my heartrate down and turns my brain off so to speak. LOVE.

Now if only they actually blocked out the marching band at the nearby high school that has decided to practice outside at 6AM. SERIOUSLY.

Kim
Kim
10 years ago

My cat is 18. About 12 years ago, he started insisting on covering my eyes while I sleep. It can be by his tail across my eyes, him laying across my eyes, his paws shoved up in my eye sockets, etc. At first, I thought it was annoying as hell. After about 2 years of this crazy, Then I started to notice when I travel for work that it’s hard to get to sleep without the furry eye mask.

Randy
Randy
10 years ago

If I don’t have my glock by my bedside, I get all nervous-like.

Kelly
10 years ago

I started wearing earplugs because one of my dogs LICKS. He LICKS and I can’t deal with the sound of his tongue LICKING and it’s the worst, most terrible sound on the entire planet. He might not lick anymore, actually. Or it might be the other dog that licks now. I don’t know. Like you, I can’t sleep without them, and I won’t.

I’m going, with Pen, to stay at my parents’ place for a month and was thinking of not taking any (mine are orange!), because they don’t have any dogs, so why would I need them? I think I know now that it would be ridiculous of me to leave them behind.

Melissa
Melissa
10 years ago

So I didn’t bat an eyelash at your sleep requirements, because apparently a lot of people have very specific ones. What I keep going back to is that you FOLD YOUR PAGE. That is a high crime in this household, which is why it’s littered with bookmarks.

Jamie
10 years ago

My husband and I lived by a hospital ER and then by a railroad. White noise machine AND fan plus blackout curtain, no glowing light or clocks (electrical tape covers pretty well). He also takes melatonin each night but I get weird dreams from it so none for me. Must have plain Chapstick. No touching or breathing on each other. This was difficult for the five years we slept in a full sized bed, but now with a king size it is magic.

jobonga
10 years ago

Fantastic mental pictures going on here! My favorite is @Kim with the codependent cat rituals – I’d like to hear from the cat, too.

I can sleep anywhere with all kinds of noise. Maybe this is because I fall asleep within minutes of being still and I love sleep, but I have to coach myself through the torturous process of getting ready for bed each night. It’s just five steps (remove contacts, floss, brush teeth, wash face, pee), but if I don’t do them all, I will end up dreaming about flossing all night. I break it down to percentage points and once I get to 60% I am flooded with relief that it is highly likely I will unlock pillow victory once again.

kelli
kelli
10 years ago

Couldn’t help but ask – are you reading A Visit from the Goon Squad? Do you love it? I read it this summer and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it!

Tessa
Tessa
10 years ago

No socks, left side, 1 foot out, mypillow, noise machine, ceiling fan set to “helicopter”. Yeah, buddy.

Christine
10 years ago

I have to brush my teeth and wash my face. Then thick layer of lotion on my feet and hands. And I’m talking like Eucerin, none of that pansy ass body lotion for me. Even when I was binge drinking in college I would wake up in the middle of the night to wash and lotion up.

Diane
Diane
10 years ago

My white noise machine and two body pillows I became addicted to during pregnancy 2 years ago. and no socks no matter how cold it is. This is so awesome how ” normal” this thread makes us all feel.

Kate
Kate
10 years ago

There are lots of things I like when I sleep or when I’m going to sleep but I HAVE TO HAVE chapstick on or I’ll lie awake thinking how tight my lips feel even though they’re not chapped.

Grace
Grace
10 years ago

A fan most definately. Sleeping on my right side in the fetal position with my husband’s knee pressed up against my rear end. I ask if I “can have a knee” when going to sleep.

Mary
Mary
10 years ago

This guided sleep meditation by Andrew Johnson has saved my very sleepless soul. I don’t know who Andrew Johnson is, but I have a lovely picture of him in my mind as basically perfect and angelic, and pretend he’s actually speaking directly to me with his soft little Scottish accent. “Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleeeeepppp.”

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/deep-sleep-andrew-johnson/id337349999?mt=8

kim
kim
10 years ago

Wow! 75 comments and counting. I guess I am not alone!

I, too, need earplugs to sleep. (A few months ago, I bought several packages of the rubber kind, with a post attached, from the internet). I also need a sleep mask. I have extras of both, and I keep them in my travel toiletries bag at ALL times, so I am never without. You should do the same!

I also, most of the time, must listen to an iPod (audiobook, the same one over and over) while I am trying to fall asleep. (I switch out the iPod for the earplugs during the inevitable first pee break of the night). I also need a pillow between my legs. And a smaller pillow below the small of my back. And, of course, a nice high layer (which usually means 2) of pillow for under my head.

My dirty sleep secrets are now exposed.

Kami
Kami
10 years ago

Fan, pitch black, and husband in bed. This only happens twice a week, therefore I sleep shitty five nights a week. Sighs.

Lisa
Lisa
10 years ago

I’m a really light sleeper & my husband snores like a freight train. I seriously worried when we were dating that I might never get a decent night sleep again when we were first together. I started wearing earplugs & it helps, for sure. Like you, I can’t sleep without them now- even when he’s out of town or when I travel for work. Why is it that the person in the relationship who snores is also the one who sleeps like the dead? A tree could fall next to my husband when he’s sleeping & he wouldn’t stir, whereas me, I can hear a spider walking a block away and not only do I wake up, but then I can’t go back to sleep for hours. Not fair, I tell ya!

Deb
Deb
10 years ago

My hubby used to snore so bad I would wake him up cursing at him. I wore earplugs for a while, but they gave me horrid ear infections. Then I made him get his sinuses roto-rootered and that helped.

But I must listen to Old Time Radio as I fall asleep. Dragnet, Gunsmoke… can’t sleeep without it, have been listening for 15 years. It’s comforting. I listen to one 30 minute story, get up and pee one last time, and fall asleep. If I don’t pee, then i just lay awake knowing that I will soon have to pee.

Lillian @ Elle The Heiress

I have to have my feet covered, even if it is freaking 100 degrees inside (which happens), I have to have them covered. I also like to sleep with either just one sock on or both socks only partially on (up to my arch). And I can’t just go to bed with them like that, I go to bed with both socks fully on then decide which way I’m going to do it and use just my feet (under the covers) to fix the socks the right way. I also have a pre-bed routine which includes setting the security system before going upstairs, then getting everyone ready for bed, then going back downstairs just to make sure I really did set the alarm, then I can go to sleep.

Jennifer
Jennifer
10 years ago

I love this! I had no idea there were so many fan users out there! I’m feeling so normal. :)
I must have a loud fan on. It just drowns everything out. I cannot sleep without it — even in the middle of winter. If i dont have it, I hear every god damned little noise, breath, grunt — and it makes me want to rip off faces.
Also, no pants. Hate pants. Only panties and a tank, please.

Kim
Kim
10 years ago

I love my children and my husband, but DO NOT come between me and my earplugs. THe big ol’s neon orange ones. I’ve been known to make 11pm trips to strange drugstores when I realize I’m without them.

Victoria
10 years ago

QUIET! I NEED QUIET! And cold (coolish, at least) and comfortable (read: smooth) sheets, and nakedness (pyjamas get all wrapped up around me) and earplugs if it’s not completely silent (WHY MUST PEOPLE BREATHE SO LOUDLY?) and my nightguard, and.. sometimes, it’s not dark enough so I have to cover/hide the light and omg I’m crazy aren’t I?

Jessica V.
Jessica V.
10 years ago

Fan on, 3 pillows (2 under my head, one between my knees), shorts and a tank top with a shelf bra (must. have. boob/stomach separation). Oh and an Ambien.

BTW – whoever it was that admitted having used a pair of Spiderman underwear to cover their eyes is my new favorite person. I snort-laffed loud enough to scare my cat.

Monique
Monique
10 years ago

Winter I must be cocooned in my blanket like a burrito, with the blanket tucked under my feet. Summer I must have only the sheet, and only between my legs. I don’t know why. I position myself on my left side, almost on my stomach, arms under the wadded up feather pillow, fall almost asleep, startle awake, then roll over to exact same position on right side and fall asleep for the night. Why don’t I just start out on my right side, you ask? Because when I do, I startle awake, roll over to left, startle awake and back to right. Which is when I sleep all night. WTF, Brain? Also, here’s my guilty admission. As a young child I worried about the vampire under my bed getting me in my sleep. My child brain reasoned that he could only get me if one of my body parts was hanging over the edge of the bed – finger, knee, foot, whatever. So I couldn’t fall asleep unless every part of my body was completely on the mattress and not in danger of hanging over any edge. Now I am 48 years old, 5′-10″ and I STILL cannot sleep if any body part is near or (gasp!) actually hanging over the edge. Shudder.

Lola
Lola
10 years ago

I must have the noise of a fan and 2 pillows. It used to be awful when I travelled, no fan! Until I found an app to simulate.the noise. :-)

Denise
10 years ago

I have a bizarre one. I have to sleep with a pillow over my head – not covering my entire head, just the top down to my nose. That started when I was a teenager, and the sun would come in and wake me up at dawn every day in the summer. I’d put the pillow over my head to block it out so I could go back to sleep, and it became a habit. Now I absolutely can’t get to sleep without it!

cakeburnette
cakeburnette
10 years ago

I PREFER to fall asleep with the TV on, but hubby doesn’t love that, so it isn’t a daily necessity. (Although at home, we do compromise and I fall asleep with the TV on a sleep-timer.)

But I wanted to comment on the fact that my oldest child was a TERRIBLE sleeper for the first 6 weeks of his life (would only sleep about 20-min at a stretch) and I STILL am not over it…even though he’s FIFTEEN now. And we STILL ask him if he’s going to throw up, EVERY TIME HE COUGHS, ESPECIALLY IN THE CAR (because he threw up all over the place and in the car A LOT).

Hillary
10 years ago

I have to have a fan. Seriously, discovering the power of a fan to drown out all the background noises that constantly woke me up changed my life. I am totally dependent on it now though, even for naps.

warcrygirl
10 years ago

I need a dark cool room and my pillow. Whenever I travel I take it with me. I also need my CPAP but I’m hoping that will be temporary.

H
H
10 years ago

When I read the post but before I read the comments, I thought I didn’t have any bedtime routines. After reading these and thinking more about it, I do. Wash my face, floss, brush, mouthwash, Burt’s Bees on my lips, wash my feet, lotion feet, lotion hands, read – then turn out the light, lay on right side with sheets/blankets pulled tightly around my neck, then turn on my stomach, feet pointed inward with right tucked under the left foot, hands under my thighs – and sleep.

My favorites here: Spiderman underpants, cat eye mask and dandelion weeder. LOVE!

Melissa Anderson
10 years ago

My only question is do these ear plugs block out enough snoring for sleep? My husband snores…it’s awful..I find myself on the couch a little too often and sometimes I can still here him down there (2story). I’m also worried if I go to ear plugs..I won’t hear my children in the next room if they need me or start to hurl. I LOVE these stories, LOVE them!

ericka
10 years ago

my sleep necessity used to be (pre-children) a sleep mask, but like many others here it is now a white noise machine. in fact, last saturday in the wee hours of the morning we had a power brown-out and the noise machine turned off and i sat straight up in bed. power came back on and back to sleep i went. so bizarre.

MEP
MEP
10 years ago

I started wearing earplugs at night for the exact same reason!! I have always slept with a fan, but because my daughter and I slept in the same room, the white noise was not enough — I needed SOUND BLOCKING. I eventually broke myself of this habit, because the insides of my ears were raw, but it was difficult. The fan helps. I don’t use earplugs at home anymore, but I keep a box (not just a pair, a box) of them in my suitcase so I am never without them while traveling, or I would never sleep.

Katie
10 years ago

Yes, earplugs here, too. CANNOT sleep without them, even if I’m exhausted. I feel like an old woman packing them everywhere I go but when I used to travel with college basketball teams on buses, I even used to break them out then. If that doesn’t scream “old woman” I don’t know what does.

akofaolain
akofaolain
10 years ago

I have to have the white noise machine set to “waterfall.” But now I earplugs!

akofaolain
akofaolain
10 years ago

i meant…now I WANT earplugs. :)

Mandy
Mandy
10 years ago

Stuffed animal hugged up to me (I am 39, I have no shame), closet door closed (so the demons can’t get me, again, no shame)& some type of white noise, either a fan, air conditioner or white noise sleep app.

cagey (Kelli Oliver George)

My #1 requirement is that I have to read. Even for just 10 minutes, I HAVE TO READ.

I do prefer to have some sort of noise and currently have a ceiling fan and regular fan serving duty.