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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Tricia
10 years ago

Cool dark room, Squishy pillow to hug. hair off my neck, cool pillow on neck to fall asleep (ive been known to flip it several times). Ear plugs — husband snores. pillow over my head if husband still dares to watch tv when ive decided its time to go to bed.

oh, and melatonin.

Im pretty sure i could sleep without the melatonin, but who wants to take that risk!

Claudia
10 years ago

Yes. I have to have some kind of white noise thing going – the fan (at home) or this wonderful device I bought for traveling because you can store a rotating fan in the overhead bins when flying. :) I use earplugs at night for awhile but they hurt and once my husband turns off his noisy stupid book light, I can sleep. They don’t block the snoring anyway so no need to keep them in. I also have to have complete darkness. No seeping light from around the shades, no blinking electronic lights. This is hard to do and it killed me when I realized I’d left my sleep mask (which was wonderful) at the beach house last summer. Need to buy a new one.

Jen
Jen
10 years ago

I cannot sleep without a fan. And it can’t be a fan that makes clunky noises or anything…it has to be a smooth, white noise. Thank God I have a smartphone now with a white noise app for when a fan isn’t handy. Sleeping at other people’s houses used to be MISERABLE if I couldn’t find a fan to haul into wherever I was sleeping. I’d hear every creak, breeze, tick of the clock..ugh.

Sarah
Sarah
10 years ago

I wear hearing aids and take them out at night. On the nights I have to sleep with them in (to hear the baby, or I am the only parent home) I have a really hard time sleeping.

Kizz
10 years ago

Wearing earplugs terrifies me. Instead of me letting go of the idea of the freaky monster or the sick dependent or whatever it amplifies them. I have earplugs in ANYONE COULD SNEAK UP ON ME AND THEN WHAT! GAH!!!!!!!

I like to have some kind of light available when I sleep. Really don’t like having open eyes and closed ones be the same amount of vision. That’s it, though.

Maggie
10 years ago

Between having kids and my husband starting to snore a few years ago, I seem to have developed a number of sleep rituals/habits that I find it difficult to sleep without. I used to need a sleep mask and earplugs. Then it was sleep mask and sound soother or fan on. Finally, I managed to combine them into a fuzzy headband with built in speakers to play soothing wind sounds that also covers my eyes. Sometimes I feel like the princess and the pea with this stuff, but without it, I don’t sleep because everyone else is making so damned much noise. Why is it that men are so noisy and yet sleep through everything? Unfair.

Redbecca
Redbecca
10 years ago

Ha ha haaaa. Loving this one!

White noise machine – the big heavy duty one, mind you, no wussy apps here. I’ve got tinnitus and without the white noise I’d go completely batshit in two days. Also the lip balm, and I now have to sleep with a small blanket over the covers draped over my thighs or those muscles cramp in the “cold” under the quilt and sheet by morning. I also loathe drafts on my neck and our bed is under the window so I sleep with a pillow between the top of my head and the headboard.
My husband snores like crazy and some nights I don’t even notice it and others I want to commit murder. Ear plugs don’t work so must think of other ways to fix this problem.

My kid is also a hair-trigger barfer and like you every time he coughs total panic sets in. He’s had allergies/sinus problems the last three weeks…it’s been very stressful!

artemisia
10 years ago

I love falling asleep with earplugs, but wake up an hour later with hurty ears. The only ones I can tolerate for longer are the Howard Leight Max LITE. (Same as the link above, but smaller.)

I used to require the covers be over and tucked under my head. I slept in a cocoon. I’ve gotten over that, but only recently.

I MUST floss, lotion up hands and feet, and smear mint chapstick on my lips before crawling into bed. MUST.

jen
jen
10 years ago

fan blowing light breeze, ear buds in with white noise on ipod, sleep mask, no light! we have blackout shades and use our phones for alarms. must have loose blanket, wear long leggings (no shorts!) and cold pillow.

you’re definitely not weird for having a certain way you need to sleep! :)

Melissa
Melissa
10 years ago

I can not sleep with clothing on. I sometimes start with just socks on but before I fall asleep they must come off. When I change the sheets I always unearth 3-4 pairs of socks. I also wear the sexy pink earplugs. Not due to children or my husband but my husband’s dog. She sleep in another room but she is an English Bulldog that snore louder than any human on the planet. I also have a post it note over my alarm clock because the lighted numbers annoy me.

Halyn
Halyn
10 years ago

Huh, this is fascinating. For me, I hate having anything on. Always naked. If for some reason I have to wear something, it’s panties and t-shirt. Anything else might bunch up or pull or just annoy me. Even if it’s very hot, I have to be covered up to sleep. A sheet works. White noise? NO. NO. A thousand times, NO. We’ve tried that, and I lay awake wondering if the noise of the fan or the dryer or whatever is drowning out the sounds of the zombies clawing through the door, or my daughter calling for me. I haven’t tried earplugs, because I imagine the muffling effect would cause the same reaction.
When I’m done reading and ready to sleep, I take three or four deep ten count inhales and exhales, tell myself to relax all my muscles, then I mentally repeat to myself “I will sleep deeply and well. I will relax into a deep, restful sleep…” over and over again until I’m out. It works for the most part. I’m still exhausted when morning comes all too soon, but I don’t have that feeling of laying there frustrated because I can’t sleep. As soon as I start feeling panicky or annoyed that sleep is not coming, I cut off those thoughts and switch to the mantra. If nothing else, it forces my heart rate to slow and my breathing to ease.

Courtney
Courtney
10 years ago

I used to be the girl who would be asleep before my head hit the pillow and sleep soundly until morning. Until I had kids. At 5 and 3, they are still sleepkillers.

My weird ritual has now become that I MUST fall asleep on my stomach. No matter how pregnant, no matter how sore my neck feels from the awkward straining. It’s bullshit, but yet, the only way to go for me.

Megan
10 years ago

Up until I was 18 or so, I HAD to pray before I went to sleep or else I would just stay awake forever. PRAYING WAS A MUST. And then I went to college and became a godless heathen, and now I can sleep anywhere, anytime, on a train, on the street, whatevs. I’m like a hobo!

Assuming I’m in my bed like a normal person, I need some kind of blanket covering me. Ideally I’d like the room to be as cold as possible so I can curl up beneath many blankets. Currently I live in an apartment where the building controls our heat/AC, so right now the heat is always blasting even though it’s been upwards of 70 degrees outside for the past few weeks. My room is a consistent 85 degrees, so I’ve spent a LOT of nighttime hours wrestling with a tower fan and blankets and wahhhh, lame. Last night I finally just pulled my shirt off and slept with a sheet over me, and it was the perfect magic combo!

There’s like a 75% chance I shirtlessly wandered into the bathroom in our hallway, where my roommate’s boyfriend might’ve seen me, but whatever, I’ve got good boobs.

Jane K.
Jane K.
10 years ago

ZzzzzQuil … magic.

Julie
Julie
10 years ago

Off subject..I didn’t go through all 113 comments to see if anyone asked, but where did you get that awesome lamp? So perfect for bedroom ambience.:)

Melanie
10 years ago

Noise and darkness. We have blackout blinds but the streetlight still bleeds through around the edges, so I really have to put up those curtains that have been sitting around for three years. (I’m a procrastinatrix and I am proud.)

I use an air purifier, and a white noise machine. Mom bought us a fancy-schmancy Sharper Image multi-setting noise machine, but I have to use it in conjunction with something. Because I CAN HERE WHERE THE SOUND FILES BEGIN AND END, and will be up all night listening for JUST where they begin to repeat.

I also cop to a bit of misophonia, as my husband will occasionally fall asleep with his mouth open and I’ll be treated to the sound of his PALATE CLICKING as he inhales.

In short, white noise has saved my marriage.

Jen_Ann_W
10 years ago

Until college, I couldn’t sleep with ANY amount of light in the room. I put a pillow over my alarm clock, had blackout curtains, the works. Now the light doesn’t bother me, but any repetitive noise makes me CRAZY. A fan or white noise is a must just to drown out any noise coming from the neighboring apartments. But if the fan ticks or wobbles or anything, I can’t deal with it.

Antropologa
10 years ago

I need earplugs sometimes, but what I absolutely require is white noise that sounds like a fan. At home I have an actual fan and when traveling I have an app on my phone.

Also an eye mask in the summer is a must(here in Sweden it’s light almost 24 hours a day in the summer). Actually, now that I am in the eye mask habit I wear one year-round. I recommend the Daydream brand in case anybody is in the market.

Furthermore I need at least three pillows.

I get a lot of flak from my husband about all my picky sleeping habits, but they work and they aren’t all that hard to come by, so.

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

We have been listening to Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s “Ambient Music for Sleep” for 10+ years. We keep in on the iPods, iPhones and iPad so can listen to it anywhere! I also have to read to get sleepy, but not required…

Karen
10 years ago

I used to be a Benadryl junkie, till I got pregnant. Now that we have the baby I have developed this super weird (to me) habit of sleeping with a pillow over my face. It drowns out the baby-anxiety I constantly feel and muffles the house noises but still allows me to hear her if she cries. The downside besides possible asphyxiation is that I wake up with a Sally from Peanuts-style pile of fuzz in the front of my head every morning from my bangs rubbing against the pillow.

Emily
Emily
10 years ago

This post just reminded me I need to buy my husband fresh ear plugs!

Angella
10 years ago

I wear earplugs because of the chickens. Or, more specifically, the roosters.

adequatemom
10 years ago

The tiny melatonin pill I take before bed helps me turn off my brain. And I have a pretty hard time falling asleep if I don’t get to read for a few minutes first. But the strangest requirement is Mooey – a stuffed cow I got as a gift when I was pregnant with my daughter, that I put under my chin every night before sleeping. Daughter has her stuffie to cuddle, I have mine …

Olivia
Olivia
10 years ago

I’ve been wearing ear plugs lately and I think I’ll be dependent on them pretty soon. My baby actually sleeps pretty well most nights, sleeping 5-6 hrs and then waking twice before morning. But, I was waking up multiple times a night. When my husband came to bed, with his snoring, the cat coming in and out, cars driving down our street…Earplugs help a lot, and listening to my own breathing helps me fall asleep, too.

Rachel
Rachel
10 years ago

It sounds so basic, but: a clean spot. I’ve traveled a fair bit for work, doing some really varied stuff, and I have learned to sleep under stages, below sound boards, on top of road boxes (those big wheeled cases you’ll see if you ever watch a concert load in or out), in tiny tour bus bunks, in ancient drafty travel trailers, and on convention center floors. As long as what is touching my skin is clean and free of dust (a tall order when your trailer has been in a dust storm for 2 weeks), I’m happy and comfortable.

I really, really like reading before sleep, but it’s not a requirement.

Suki
Suki
10 years ago

Yeah, I went into reading this comments feeling like a pretty low-maintenance sleeper, and I came away feeling like the easiest sleeper on the planet, and incredibly grateful for it! We live between a fire station and a hospital and on a busy bus route, but have become so inured to the noise that we are legitimately surprised when people stay with us and bring it up. I am surprised though that I can still sleep in very quite settings. I have joked that God gives everyone a special gift and mine is sleep. My only quirk is that I MUST empty my bladder as the absolute last thing before bed- if I’m lying in bed and start thinking about it, I HAVE to get up and pee.

I love how so many quirky sleepers have discovered that they are not alone through this thread, but I would also love to hear from the comically good sleepers out there- what’s the craziest place you’ve fallen/stayed asleep? I can’t decide between a Tool concert and a large-scale sporting event.

Ali V
Ali V
10 years ago

Love all these comments. I need three pillows (two for my head, one to hug) and my ipod with an audiobook playing at low volume. If I’m very relaxed (ha) I can sometimes make do without the audiobook, but the story is usually necessary to distract me from nighttime-doom-worry-spiral.

I do sometimes use earplugs for working at home – but I have to guard them with my life from the cats as they are apparently the Best Toy Ever. I’m amazed you can leave yours on the nightstand.

Jennifer
Jennifer
10 years ago

I’m so sexy at night: my mouth guard, my earplugs, my heated rice bag, my heating pad…I might as well add some vick’s vap-o-rub to the routine and just be an old lady aleady.

Laura S
Laura S
10 years ago

What an interesting topic! I have to fall alseep with the tv on. Before I set the timmer for 30 minutes I flip through the channels until I find a channel that doesn’t have extra loud commercials (or even better, no commercials). The program should be interesting enough to hold my attention and distract the voices in my head, but not so interesting that I want to stay awake to watch it. Once the tv goes off there should be no light and no noise, but I can’t sleep with earplugs or an eye mask.

I also have a certain arrangement of pillows to support various body parts and/or snuggle with, and I don’t use sheets (just a light quilt under me and either a light quilt or comforter on top depending on the season)

MUST sleep nude, I cannot stand to have clothes on in bed!

DH and I have seperate bedrooms and after we made that switch a few years ago we both started sleeping so much better!

Karl
Karl
10 years ago

Another vote for a white-noise source. I built one (many!) years back to block out a crying baby. That baby is 26 and has her own baby now, but we still need the noise to sleep.

I can nap with clothes on, but for a serious night’s sleep nothing but nudity will work.

Eve
Eve
10 years ago

These comments made me understand why I couldn’t sleep well since the boyfriend became an ex-boyfriend. He talks in his sleep/when he is falling asleep (pretty entertaining since he can also answer your questions). I tried a white noise app on the iPhone last night, made me realized that withtout him, it was too quiet, had a much better night of sleep :)

Caitlin
10 years ago

I’m exactly the same way! I started wearing ear plugs because my husband snores a lot, and now that we’ve moved to a place where his allergies don’t flare up as much, he doesn’t really snore. But I still NEED my ear plugs! (Mine are those pink ones, too!)

honeybecke
honeybecke
10 years ago

So I’ve been thinking…I think this thread could be the topic of a great coffee table book. I’d totally read it. We’d need pictures to go along with it of course, all instagram-collage-esque.
Someone get on it.

perl
perl
10 years ago

I also do the eye mask (thought it might help me convince myself “hey it’s time to sleep now”) and have done the white noise/fan thing since having kids (eight years now). But I have a super, super weird one that I haven’t seen mentioned here.

I fall asleep *so* much more easily if I have been in the company of Indian friends or have been watching BBC earlier in the day. I can just hear nonsense voices chattering away and they lull me off to sleep so beautifully. Sometimes American voices work but usually not. I know it sounds creepy, it is very strange, and there is no explanation that I know of (other than the fact that I am very, very weird).

goingloopy
10 years ago

I’m glad I’m not the only page folder (although I mostly use my Kindle now)…Also, I can’t stand the light being on anywhere in the apartment (it doesn’t matter if the bedroom door is closed, I can FEEL it being on), and I have like 5 pillows and they have to be arranged in a certain order. I need my own blanket/comforter because my boyfriend has dubbed me “the Human Burrito.” I personally do not see this as a problem, but he does. Heh. Also, it’s hard to sleep without a cat nearby….when I visit other people with no cat. Finally, Ambien, or I don’t sleep. Sometimes I don’t sleep even with it.

Nolita
10 years ago

I have been considering getting earplugs so I can sleep through anyone else in the house getting up to pee in the middle of the night. I was worried I wouldn’t hear emergency calls for me but now I’m sold on just muting the sounds. Love the camp noise descriptions! I think I am also going to invest in a sleep mask but those don’t block out the images leftover from AHS and TWD, do they? I don’t have any must-haves to go to sleep but then again I am constantly sleep-deprived. I have made the Little Ones reliant on their lullaby music (2 hrs) for sleep and naps, so now they can’t sleep if the volume is not just right and they have trained themselves to wake up when the music is off or at a certain song. Time to add more songs!

I need to set up a household whitenoise machine so we can all sleep more soundly(and not hear the hook-handed psycho killer/slobbering grizzly or zombies outside our windows).

sharon
sharon
10 years ago

I don’t think those nights of waiting for the eh-heh, eh-heh will ever completely leave my mind and my son is 11. I find Benadryl to be quite helpful.

Sara
10 years ago

Oh My God YES

Everyone makes fun of me getting ready to sleep. I don’t even know how it started but I know it came in stages. Sometime when I was a kid I realized my sister in law slept with a fan in her face and I tried it and liked it and some 20 years later I now MUST have a fan in my face. I even take them with me on trips. I also have a sound machine that I started using about two years ago, on what I can only describ as the roaring setting. It lulls me to sleep. Sooo soothing.

But, by far the one I take the most rap for is, I have to have an eye mask.

It all started when we moved in here about 3 years ago and the fire detector has a green flashy light that flashes all friggen night long. I don’t really care about most constant lights, like the time on the clock or what not, yes I know it changes but it doesn’t flash. This one flashy light drove me insane. My first thought was to cover the light up, but we have really tall celings and no ladder and so yeah. As a joke a friend got me an eye mask that said something about a princess and I tried it and it worked. Since I’ve bought several others settling on one favorite.

Recently on a trip I left mine at home and had to go purchase one at 1am because I couldn’t fall asleep, everything was so bright and my eyes needed their comfy pillow!!! wow

Just call me princess Sara

Kristin
Kristin
10 years ago

Also earplugs, I love the 3M orange ones and buy them in bulk. Sleeping without them is virtually imposible, I don’t understand how people can sleep with all the noise, even though technically, there is hardly any noise at all. Lip balm is also important to me to fall asleep and putting in the ear plugs and putting on the lip balm are signals to my brain that it’s bed time, I’m asleep less than a minute later.

Rosie
Rosie
10 years ago

Earplugs saved my marriage. I see that commenters will know that I am not kidding. I was also told by an my early childhood family education teacher (I’m in MN, and we have these amazing classes)that my kids are not going to quiet down – I needed to wear earplugs when I could not take their *normal to other people* noise that would drive me to insanity. I took her advice and became so much less yelly. Earplugs. Who knew they would be so key to my life.

Nolita
10 years ago

Lip balm! I didn’t realize it was a thing in my bedtime routine until I read that last comment. If I am not on my belly, my eyes don’t want to be shut for some reason so I’m am going to add earplugs and a sleep mask (pillow) to my routine starting tonight! P.S. Love that lamp!

Janet
Janet
10 years ago

I have the exact same set of earplugs, Linda. Could not live without them. Like many of the other posters, I have to have the room cool, dark, and quiet but my husband snores so I have to wear the earplugs or I would have to kill him!

I use to have issue with my ears not being covered (when I slept) due to a bad experience I had with a damn spider climbing into my ear when I was a child. To this day I still get kinda creeped out if my ear is uncovered. I guess the ear plugs do double duty for me.

Em
Em
10 years ago

Like so many others, I NEED white noise. NEED IT. Usually it’s a fan or an air purifier. I also liked to be tucked under the blankets, and my husband will tell you I steal them regularly.

Your description of wearing ear plugs intrigues me though, because it reminds me of what snorkling “sounds” like, and I really like it. I might have to invest in some. (And they will definitely be pink.)

Kristiina
Kristiina
10 years ago

White noise machine, ear plugs, lip stuff, hand lotion, pillow between knees….and when my husband gets the “jimmy legs” or loud snoring, I escape to the guest room (it’s stocked with earplugs and it’s own noise machine!)…and I always hear the kids when they need me. It’s the supersonic mom ears ;)
Love this post!!

Sonia
Sonia
10 years ago

Cool, dark room, body pillow to throw a leg over, lorazepam, and a fan. I used to throw a leg over my snoring husband, and take diphenhydramine. Since he left, diphenhydramine seems to make me remember my nightmares. Lorazepam either stops them from happening, or keeps me from remembering. Now that I’m not listening to someone snoring, I LOVE sleeping alone!! Still need the fan for the white noise. I started my son on that too, and now he uses a noise machine set on ‘waterfall’.

Rosie
Rosie
10 years ago

As a kid, I used to be able to sleep anywhere, anytime, in any position (you’d be surprised).

Alas, no more. Now, take an over-the-counter sleeping pill, read for a while, then turn on the TV to something that’s only mildly interesting but not annoying (the Discovery channel is GREAT and the History channel used to be before they went all apocalypse and ancient aliens all the time) at a low volume that I have to strain to understand, a noise machine set to white noise, and a face mask. And my feet have to stick out from under the covers because they get hot. And lately I’ve added a pillow over my head to block out any other noise and light. I rarely fall asleep in any time less than an hour. Oh, and I haven’t slept in the same room as my husband in months because he snores.

Do I win?

Rosie
Rosie
10 years ago

Also, in reading this thread, I’ve added several things to my Amazon shopping cart. I love sleep, sleep does not love me.

Rosie
Rosie
10 years ago

I keep thinking of more things. The door must be shut so that the cats can’t come in. About this time of year, the air gets so dry that I have to have the humidifier on. Sometimes, I still get a dry cough and have to have a cough drop, which can last for half a night if you tuck it just right (I’m sure that’s terrible for my teeth, plus I’ll probably choke on it some night). If there’s nothing on TV that fits into the mildly interesting category, I put on a mildly interesting podcast. I haven’t yet found earphones that are comfortable enough to sleep in (and again, I’ll probably strangle myself on the cord some night). And my pants must be adjusted just right on my stomach or hip so that I can’t feel it when I’m lying on my side. My phone charger has an annoying blue light, so I have to block it with a coin.

Nancy
Nancy
10 years ago

Box fan for white noise, fluffy comforter year round, generally need to sleep with my fist tucked up by my mouth. Earplugs on nights when I really need to sleep – or I’m sick. Or just want to tune out the world or potential wake ups from the kids. We just retired DH’s giant old rusty box fan – turns out a new one from Walmart is even louder!

Willa
10 years ago

I have, sadly, become addicted to ibuprofen p.m. I had gotten to where I would wake up several times during the night and just lie there worrying about everything under the sun, and had a *horrible* time going to back to sleep. With 1 ibuprofen p.m. (generic), I can sleep ALL night, usually waking up about 5:00 to go to the bathroom, then fall back asleep. I hate to admit the addiction, but like you say, there are worse ones. :)