Finding Sleep

I’ve been focusing on getting a great night’s sleep for the last year. I’ve struggled with epilepsy my entire life, and when I don’t sleep well, I risk having seizures. Not cool. When my sleep routine is clicking, I can be seizure free even without medication. So sleep is of ultimate importance to me.

I struggle to fall asleep because I have a hard time shutting my brain off. I know I’m not alone in that, especially in this day and age. When I was in graduate school and a newlywed, I discovered the power of being read to when John picked up a book one night and started to read aloud. His soothing public-radio-announcer voice lulled me, and soon it was dawn.

After taking a sleep study two decades ago (OMG, that was 20 years ago already?!), I discovered Delta sleep, the deepest sleep, was not happening. My sleep medicine doctor referred to this as restorative sleep, and since I wasn’t getting enough, my fibromyalgia flares, migraines, and chronic fatigue were all affected.

Since making all those discoveries, I’ve made sleep a priority. But it’s still not easy and I’m always on the lookout for helpful tools, like the new pillow I bought last week. I’m not sure that was worth what I paid for it yet; I’ll get back to you in a decade to see if it lasted.

For years I’ve been falling asleep using Voice Dream Reader, an app that will read any book you can open on it (if it’s protected by DRM, then you’re out of luck, but anything else is fair game). I have to be careful which book I select, however. If it’s a brand new story to me, I’ll be up listening all night rather than falling asleep. If it’s filled with errors or poor phrasing, I’ll be editing all night. 😂 No, seriously. I use this program to edit, so my brain just goes there.

Some nights I’ve listened to podcasts of news, but talk about stress-inducing! So, nope. I had to stop that.

But having a voice buzzing in my ear is key for me when I can’t turn my brain off. Somehow I ran across the podcast. Sleep With Me, which is designed to help you fall asleep. Literally, Dearest Scooter goes out of his way to talk and talk and talk about nothing so your mind finally gives up and you drift off to sleep. I also love the way he signs on. You have to listen to appreciate his all-inclusive love that makes me smile each episode.

It’s free too, so bonus!

It might not be for you, but give it a try for a few nights before you judge it. Dearest Scooter’s voice is gravelly, filled with the type of vocal fry that can put me off of listening to certain audiobooks, but his voice eventually became soothing to me. Now he sounds sleepy to my ears, which makes me sleepier. And he talks about topics that are just interesting enough that you want to keep listening, but they aren’t interesting enough to keep you engaged for long.

On my trip out to North Dakota this autumn, I played this in the car. At first, John gave me really funny looks, then eventually he laughed. “What the hell is this?” he asked before I explained the concept. And I picked the perfect episode because Dearest Scooter was talking about a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, and my hubby is a huge Trekkie. Perfect.

Despite his initial reservations, John now listens to Sleep With Me too, so I don’t even have to use ear buds at night anymore! Another bonus since I recently discovered all my ear issues are likely caused by an allergy to some preservative companies are putting in ear bud rubber, so there’s that too. :)

Finding sleep is just one of the ways I’m trying to renew my commitment to . . . well, life. I want to make my life richer. I want to write more words. I want to settle into middle age feeling good about my life so far while still working toward those things I want to achieve. A good night’s sleep is one of those foundational pieces I need to be slotted into place in this Tetris puzzle of life.


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