Tossing and Turning

sleep-maskSleep…..ah, sleep. It should be oh so simple. After a long, hard day, a good night’s sleep should happen instantly; jump into bed, and the minute my head hits the pillow..zzzzzz. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty rare occurrence in my world.

Even as a young girl I had trouble sleeping. None of the rest of my family could understand it. They’d all go to bed and instantly fall asleep. I, on the other hand, would regularly spend big chunks of each night awake, tossing and turning, and trying to get some sleep.

I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time reading every piece of information I can get my hands on about sleep problems, and have talked to several doctors about my symptoms. I’ve also made all kinds of changes over the years to try and sleep more soundly. Go to bed at the same time every night? Check. Don’t drink caffeine in the evening? Check. Get regular exercise? Check. Comfy bed linens? Check. Did these and many other changes help? Well, a bit.

Each time I’d make one change, I’d sleep a bit better for awhile, and then suddenly, out of the blue, I’d be awake at the dreaded 3:00 a.m. A few years ago I noticed that I slept better in hotel rooms with light-masking drapes than I did in my home. I did some investigating and purchased my first sleep mask (not as big as the one in the picture above). The first night I put it on, I couldn’t believe how dark everything was. It truly blocked all light in the room. I was afraid it would feel funny and actually stop me from sleeping, but it was very comfortable, and I slept soundly for nights to come. Was it a cure-all? No, definitely not, but it has enhanced the quality of my sleep immeasurably.

But for the last few months, I’ve been having major sleep-problem episodes once again. Each time I’d wake up, I would either hear my cat Princess crying for attention, or a neighbor tromping around in the apartment above mine. Finally, this past week, after more research, I picked up a package of sleep ear plugs. According to the packaging, they offer “32 decibels of noise reduction”  (and I have absolutely no idea what that means).

Once again, I was skeptical. The things are really odd, made out of some kind of foam-type material. You squish them to practically nothing, and then put them in your ears. They gradually plump back up to their original size, and fill the cavity in your ear. They don’t hurt, and honestly, I don’t feel them at all. And, amazingly, they block out almost all noise!

One of my friends was afraid that if I used them, I might sleep through a fire alarm. That’s really not an issue. While they block, or muffle, most noise, they don’t block everything. Two mornings this week, I actually awoke to my alarm, and yes, I could hear it through the ear plugs. What they do seem to block is noises from the apartment above mine, the sounds of the air conditioning or heating going on and off, and most of my cat’s demands for attention in the middle of the night.

So, fingers crossed that the ear plugs keep working, but in the meantime, I’m always looking for sleep tips. Any suggestions? Do you have problems sleeping, or are you one of the lucky ones who falls asleep the minute your head hits the pillow, and doesn’t wake up until your alarm goes off?

LinnieGayl

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7 Responses to “Tossing and Turning”

  1. LeeB. says:

    I occasionally have trouble sleeping and do have ear plugs — especially to block out people talking on their lanais in the apartment complex across the street — but I only use them on weekends because I too am afraid I’ll sleep through my alarm.

    I also have a sleep machine that I set to the sound of rain falling. You can adjust the sound controls and when you want the machine to shut off (30-60-90 minutes) or let it play throughout the night.

  2. Missie says:

    I have intermittent problems sleeping. When I’m having trouble, I like to take melatonin — the chewable kind, because it gets into my system more quickly. I like to let it dissolve against my gums.

    Happy Camper (an herbal supplement) can also be good at calming nerves and helping to quiet your brain. I will take one (the “dosage” is 2, but 2 make me sleepy) during the day if I’m feeling tense or badly stressed. If I’m having trouble falling asleep because my brain is racing, I’ll take one at night…or, if I haven’t had any at all that day, I might take 2 at night.

  3. LinnieGayl says:

    Lee, I’ve been curious about sleep machines, but haven’t gotten one yet. I used to have a radio/CD player that would play for as long as I wanted, and I’d go to sleep listening to music, which seemed to work.

    Missie, haven’t tried melatonin, although I know lots of people who swear by it.

  4. Joe says:

    The Dreamhelmet combination sleep mask sound suppressing pillow has a large eye mask as well as a pillow with sound blocking material inside. It is a patented American made invention and was just featured on Good Morning America – Here’s the link:

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/JobClub/sleeping-job-employers-tired-workers-power-nap/story?id=11659597

  5. LinnieGayl says:

    Really interesting, Joe. I’ve never seen one of those before.

  6. kathy says:

    I know a few people who have a fan running all night and they swear by them. It blocks out noise and is soothing.

  7. CindyS says:

    I love sleep but falling asleep is the bane of my existence. Although a definite time for bed and getting up time would probably benefit me, I have a hard time sticking to either.

    I didn’t know there were people who didn’t struggle with sleep until I met Bob. Bob’s head hits the pillow and he’s out. And there is the story of him being in a hotel and it being evacuated as he slept soundly through the alarm blaring over his head (a co-worker knocked on his door until he finally got an answer thank goodness but it was also a false alarm)

    And I used to think only old people or babies fell asleep sitting up. Nope. Bob does it, one of my friends husbands does it and on and on.

    My family were late to bed and late to wake – except for those pesky work hours. But staying up until 3am on a weekend at the age of 10 was nothing we blinked at.

    Thankfully my family and friends have just adapted to who I am. I can either be up when they need me or I’m down for the count. The good news is I normally know ahead of time what’s coming.

    I wish I had things that help – but I do take sleeping pills so there’s that. And I did use a mask a few years ago and loved it – the problem is with the replacement masks I tried the elastic was too tight – the silly things that bother me.

    I won’t go into my Princess and the Pea syndrome. Bob could sleep on a bed of nails. I need perfection.

    cindys