Sweet Sleep in an App

Sleep is often my fickle friend. She’ll visit three nights in a row and then not again for a week. It doesn’t matter how I’ve spent my evening or what I’ve eaten for dinner or watched on the evening news. Sometimes, though, there is a correlation between my late evening internet usage and my ability to fall asleep, so I do try to put my phone away an hour or two before bedtime. Even then sleep isn’t guaranteed.

Staying in strange hotel rooms adds to the likelihood that I won’t sleep, and last week when I traveled to Austin from Doright Manor I spent a sleepless night in a Drury Inn in Lafayette, Louisiana. Now, that’s when my gastric pain started, but even once it tapered off I could not fall asleep, instead tossing and turning until the sun rose.

I wearily went about the business of getting ready to travel on to Austin, showered, and turned on the morning news to keep me company as I packed. Lo and behold the panelists on one of the morning news shows were discussing sleep apps. I listened and jotted down some notes before leaving the room.

When I got to my Austin hotel I read over my notes and picked one of the apps to try. It’s called “Calm” and I’m here to tell you it’s working wonders in my life. I slept beautifully both nights in Austin, and only struggled with sleep one night afterwards–and that was most likely because I took a nap that same afternoon.

I chose the “Calm” app for a couple of reasons. First, because it’s also a meditation app, and I seem to respond well to meditative exercises. But the main reason was that in addition to offering calming music and white noise, the app has different narrators read excerpts of books as bedtime stories for grown ups.

Studly Doright laughed at me when I told him about the app, but now he’s noticed a change in my sleeping habits that’s resulted in me being a happier spouse. Even dealing with whatever is going on in my digestive tract, I’m able to fall asleep listening to these stories.

I was afraid the narration would bother Studly, but he claims he can’t hear anything other than my breathing. That’s an unexpected perk of growing old, I suppose. I tuck my iPhone under my pillow and most nights I fall asleep within just a few minutes of the story’s beginning.

So far I have some favorite stories: Matthew McConaughey reads a piece called “Wonder” that I still haven’t heard the end of. Astronaut Terry Verts tells of seeing earth from space, and his words are beautiful and peaceful.

There are many stories I haven’t gotten to listen to yet, but right now I’m sticking to a few tried and true tales.

I tend to find the deeper male voices more calming, or maybe the women’s voices just make me want to listen longer. Regardless, this app has made a huge difference. (Hoping I’m not jinxing my progress by typing this).

The initial week of “Calm” is free, but it costs right at $60 for a year’s subscription. That almost turned me off, but after the week was over I was convinced the app was worth it. If you’re struggling with sleeplessness, you might want to give it a try. Let me know if you do. I’d like to compare notes.

Peace and good sleep, people!

A Little Cat Music

In my never ending search for a good night’s sleep I’ve tried everything short of prescription drugs: Melatonin, teas to promote sleep, putting my phone away a couple of hours before bedtime, deep breathing exercises, and meditation. Nothing really works. Occasionally I’ll take a dose of a nighttime cold medicine, and sometimes that helps, but I don’t like doing it.

Often I’ll ask my Alexa to play relaxing music, but whoever programs such material must not understand that up tempo songs with abrupt changes in instrumentation do not foster relaxation. I’ll just about doze off only to have the mellow tones of a cello be replaced jarringly by a clang of cymbals. Note to Alexa–just because a piece is classical, doesn’t mean it’s soothing. I’m fairly sure nobody ever fell asleep to the strains of the Willam Tell Overture.

Finally, though, I believe I’ve found music that might do the trick. It happened quite by accident when on a whim I asked Alexa to play music for cats. I was trying to foster affection, or at least acceptance, between my two antagonistic felines. They both were hanging out in my bedroom, and I had the wild idea that perhaps music could help.

It was an instant hit, and now they expect me to play their music every morning. I’ll wander into the bedroom and find them snuggled into my bed with just a couple of cat lengths between them while a little cat music plays softly in the background. That’s a major improvement.

Last night Studly Doright was out of town. After going to bed I tossed and turned for an hour before wondering if the cat music could work for me, too. I asked Alexa to play it, and the underlying purring sounds set to low strings lulled me to sleep. Now, I woke up around 1 a.m., and again at 4, and had to repeat the process, but it seemed to work fairly well. This leads me to believe I might be a cat. Meow.

Here’s a sample from the album, Music for Cats by David Teie. It’s titled “Lolo’s Air.”

https://youtu.be/yDPHPYbM_K8

Peace, people.

Some Nights

Some nights my dreams evaporate into waves of self-recrimination with little transition from sleep to wakefulness. A weight settles onto my chest, my heart races, and my thoughts chase one another in an endless loop.

Other nights I fall into peaceful slumber, amusing vignettes keeping me company through the long night. I stretch luxuriously upon waking, and a smile remains on my lips.

I wish there were a vending machine into which I could insert coins for either choice A or choice B. I really need a B night.

Peace, people.

But I Don’t WANT To Write

I write something for this blog and post daily. I’ve done so for several years now, but last night the toddler in me was balking. Toddler Nana didn’t WANT to write anything, and nobody could make her.

When I crawled into bed I said to myself, “Self, you don’t have to write anything tomorrow if you don’t feel like it.”

I congratulated myself profusely. Then my brain spent the next hour and 20 minutes churning out one forgettable blog post idea after another.

“Okay!” I snarled at myself. “I’ll write SOMETHING, but I won’t enjoy it.”

Good news: I purchased some new eye liner and will most likely be able to find humor in the application process for a future post. Grasping for straws, folks. Ooh! There’s a title.

Peace, people.

Learning to Sleep Again

I overthink everything, even managing to overthink my tendency to overthink. Lately I’ve been overthinking about my inability to sleep. Granted, I do sleep better now than I did a couple of years ago, but there are still many nights when my brain refuses to shut off, nights when I feel like I have twice as many arms as a normal human and none of them can find a comfortable position in relation to my head or torso or legs.

As I engaged in overthinking I realized that part of the problem stemmed from the acres of clothing I seem to wear to bed. My simple nightshirt magically turns into a parachute-sized garment around midnight, and no matter how I turn or twist or reorient my body, it bunches up beneath me. Plus, my pajama bottoms ratchet up to my knees causing my calves to rub together and causing all sorts of unpleasant irritations. 

I liken my dilemma to that of the princess and the pea. No matter how small the annoyance, it becomes a boulder as I ache for sleep. 

I tried sleeping in the nude, but none of my body parts like touching each other. They need their own space, little divas that they are. Ideally, I should be allowed to sleep like a starfish taking up the entire bed; however, Studly Doright wouldn’t have a spot, and since he pays the rent I can’t very well shoo him away.

And honestly, I’m a side sleeper. Fetal position works best, but again, those darned body parts come into play. What I need is a mummy wrap. But then I’d get too hot, or I’d have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I can picture me in the throes of a hot flash or doing the potty dance, trying to unwind my wrappings as quickly as possible, and ultimately failing. 

So today I bought a sleep bra, and tonight I’m going to pair it with a pair of yoga pants. There’ll be no excess material to speak of, and just maybe I can prevent my arms from coming into contact with each other. I wonder how a straight jacket might work? 

Anyway, wish me luck. Better yet, wish me sleep. 

Peace, people.

It’s Raining Benadryl!

Last night I had a dilemma. I could take the anti-inflammatory drug prescribed by my doctor to fight the pain in my lower back, or I could take a sinus/allergy pill in order to breathe. 

Since the anti-inflammatory cautioned against taking anything with acetaminophen or ibuprofen I was forced to choose. Did I want to lie awake all night due to an excruciatingly painful back or due to a headache from the depths of hell? Decisions, decisions. 

Then I remembered that Studly Doright had just bought an economy sized bottle of the antihistamine Benadryl. While it wouldn’t necessarily help with my congestion, it might just knock me out enough that I didn’t care about breathing.

Studly has his own medical stash separate from mine, a tradition started back when he once accidentally took the menstrual cramp reliever Midol and subsequently tried to puke them up lest he develop feminine attributes. Since then our drugs don’t occupy the same space. It’s a rule.

His nearly full bottle of Benadryl was front and center among his medicine collection. It took a couple of seconds to negotiate the child safety cap, but soon I had all those little pink pills at my disposal. 

That’s when Studly chose to surreptitiously come up behind me and playfully demand, “What do you think you’re doing?”

I shrieked and lost control of the bottle, sending it on a vertical trajectory aimed for the bathroom skylight. Little pink pills went everywhere. Everywhere. I was still finding them behind perfume atomizers and cosmetic jars this morning. 

And since my back wouldn’t let me bend over, poor Studly had to pick up all of the pills that landed on the floor. That’ll teach him to sneak up on me when I’m thieving. 

Fortunately I salvaged a couple of pills last night ensuring a deep sleep. Of course I still have the same dilemma tonight, and Studly has declared his medicine cabinet off-limits. I wonder how many glasses of wine equal two Benadryl?

  
Peace, people.

I Hear Music

Sometimes in the early morning
after my man has left for work,
but before I have left our bed,
I hear a melody playing behind
my eyelids, soft yet insistent.

Instantly, though, once I open
my eyes, the sweet strains are
dissipated, music diffused all
throughout the greater cosmos,
and in vain I seek the source.

Creeping stealthily from covers
I tiptoe through our quiet home
pausing with held breath hoping
to surprise the makers of music,
but at hide and seek they excel.

The tiny musicians, for they must
be faeries, or related small folk,
lurk just outside of my eyesight’s
range, giggling giddily of that I
am sure; mischief is their nature.

So I return to bed, to the comfort
of my blankets and snuggle down in
a cloud of cool cotton and fleece.
My breaths lengthen, my eyes close,
and the music begins playing again.

  

I actually do hear phantom music, and have my entire life. Until I mentioned it to someone else I just assumed everyone heard it. While that used to freak me out, now I just accept the music as a quirky blessing. It’d be nice, though, if I could get a number one hit out of it.

Peace, people!