So as I was saying (back on the main blog), I sometimes need some help getting to sleep when it's noisy outside.
But before I tell you what's so nifty about the SleepPhones system, I'd like to whine a bit about other available methods of dealing with this problem. Because if there weren't some whining and complaining, how would you know that you were really still at Cranky Fitness?
Other Solutions to Night-Time Noise That I've Tried:
A "sleep soother" machine like they sell at Sharper Image, the kind that play white noise or various other sounds that are supposed to lull you to sleep.
I hated it.
Not only did it prove I am a schizophrenic because I heard voices in it, but the sound quality was really crappy, and the sounds were recorded loops that only lasted a few seconds. I couldn't help but pick out repetitive noises and then wait for them to come back around again, and again, and again. Neurotic, who me?
Earplugs. They creep me out. (I don't do earbuds on my iPod either. I hate things inside my ears.)
Closing the Window And Turning on the Air Conditioner. This works but makes me feel incredibly wasteful. We get a nice cool breeze most summer nights, and I hate to shut that out and use a power-guzzling machine just because some obnoxious idiot is out there slamming down tequila shots, cranking his stereo and crooning along to I Shot The Sheriff.
Lying There Feeling Angry and Frustrated. Contrary to popular belief, I don't actually enjoy being Cranky. I'd prefer to be relaxed and happy and blissful!
So, What are Sleep Phones and Why Do I Like Them Better Than These Other Options?
They're headphones embedded in a soft fleecy headband that you wear over your ears and plug into your mp3 player, cd player, or other audio device. I use my iPod because it's pretty unobtrusive. (And did you know your iPod has timer and alarm functions? I didn't!)
The headphones are designed to be comfortable enough to sleep in. The package also comes with a lavender sachet and a CD that has three tracks--the one I'm partial to is 30 minutes long and it's called "Rowayton Stream."
Okay, I'll confess, "Rowayton Stream" is the only one I downloaded. The other two are called "Harriman Birds" and "Wake Up!" Since I've already got cacophonous birdcalls waking me up at 4:30 am , I thought I'd pass on any dang birdies chirping. And "Wake Up!" didn't sound all that promising as a track for putting me to sleep.
These soundtracks feature binaural beats, which through a complicated process that I've never quite understood, are supposed to affect your brainwaves and help you to sleep. Over at the SleepPhones site they've got a round-up of some of the relevant binaural beat research. They also offer several more free sleep-inducing mp3 downloads over on the SleepPhone downloads page.
The downside of binaural beats? Well, they sound odd. It's sort of like a washing machine is sitting in the middle of my peaceful Rowayton Stream, on spin cycle, thrumming away.
Don't you have some dirty clothes to tackle down in the basement?
Actually, at least it sounds like an expensive, possibly European washing machine is sitting in the stream, not a 15 year old Kenmore with a pair of tennis shoes in it. So after a few seconds I don't tend to notice the binaural beat aspect anymore, and I like the idea that it might be messing with my brainwaves and helping me sleep. But if that creeps you out or annoys you, you can use any old CD or MP3 you want to lull you to sleep.
Besides drowning out obnoxious neighbors, the SleepPhones are also supposed to help with tinnitus, insomnia, anxiety, and are probably a good alternative to divorce if you have a spouse who snores.
Additional Options for Dealing With Insomnia
The SleepPhones people have conveniently put together a nice list of sleep hygiene tips, saving me from gathering them up.
And I also thought I'd mention that there was a recent study out endorsing an online cognitive behavioral approach to insomnia. Time Magazine has a good article on the study and on web-based insomnia treatments. Apparently some health insurers like Blue Cross and Aetna offer free anti-insomnia programs, and there are cheap retail versions at cbtforinsomnia.com or myselfhelp.com). I see no reason not to try both the SleepPhones and an online CBT program, but what do I know? I don't have insomnia, just noisy neighbors.
How To Win Your Own Set of SleepPhones:
Leave a comment on this post by Tuesday night, June 9th; the winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced sometime the next day on Wednesday June 10th. If you win, please send an email with your name and mailing address to Crabby McSlacker at Gmail dot com by midnight Saturday June 13th.
The good news: if you live outside the U.S., you can enter! The bad news: if you win, it may take longer for your SleepPhones to arrive. Also, depending on where you live, you may be required to pay import tax. But if you're okay with that, please leave a comment!
So does anyone have any issues getting or staying asleep, or do you just drop right off? Any good tips for beating insomnia?
IMPORTANT UPDATE: A WINNER HAS BEEN DECLARED! PLEASE SEE WHO IT WAS BACK AT CRANKY FITNESS!