Monday, June 8, 2009

White Noise

When I was in high school I had no trouble getting up the first time the alarm went off at 5:45am. I never hit snooze. I hated getting out of bed but the mere thought of being late for school was enough of a push to muddle through a shower, breakfast, 30 minutes of hair and make-up and then another 30 minute-commute to school. I ate lunch at 10:30am and was home by 3pm unless I had soccer or some choir practice after school. I was in bed and asleep by 10:30 most nights. Back then any little sound could wake me up and disturb my slumber, and I slept in a wonderful dark, quiet, and cozy room.

Then came college. The first semester I signed up for 8:30 classes. That was a full hour after high school started so I didn't think it would be a big deal... I mean seriously, right? But somewhere that first semester I learned about snooze. Some mornings I didn't hear the alarm even. I learned to sleep through everything. People coming in and leaving at all hours of the night, my dorm room being right near the bathroom meant listening to all that activity too. I adapted. Nothing could wake me up - as was evidenced by me oversleeping on the day of my first final of my first semester of my first year of college. I arrived at the final with 10 minutes left to take it, thanks to staying up late to study, then taking cold medicine because I had whatever bug was traveling through the floor that week. Thank God the teacher took pity on me and gave me another 45 minutes to take it. I think he took one look at my bed-head, runny nose, sweaty face from booking it across campus, and bedraggled appearance and believed I had the look of honesty. My hand was so shaky from nerves and anxiety that I couldn't fill in the tiny damn bubbles on that scantron form. He told me to circle my answers on the sheet and fill in the bubbles when I was done so I could calm down. For every college test after that one I asked my mom to call me in the morning, an hour before I had to be there.

After I left the dorms and had my own apartment I got better about not sleeping through my alarm. I had more responsibilities, a job too, and gone were my late nights of partying and talking to friends in the dorm's lounge. I began to sleep in a quiet room, and once again, little things could wake me up easily. I still hit snooze occassionally but it wasn't as necessary anymore.

Then I got cats. Holy crap, I love them but what a huge mistake that was for more reasons than just my sleep. My older cat insisted on sleeping directly in front of my face and pressed her nose on mine. She has long hair. So imagine needing to tickle your nose because her whiskers and long hair are all over your face. And when you reached up to tickle her, well she knew you were awake and would start to purr. LOUDLY. She was sweet but so damn annoying. The second cat was just neurotic. Certifiably. And she peed. EVERYWHERE. If I heard her scratching something I bolted upright and raced out of bed because I knew she was going to pee on my carpet again. Then it got to the point where I could hear her just walking across the house, even if she wasn't going to pee on anything. I started sleeping with a cool mist humidifier on (in Florida, yeah, I know) because the white noise helped block out the sound of my cats traipsing through house at night. (Now the cats sleep outside on the porch. I don't let them inside anymore.)

When we would travel I found that I needed that white noise to sleep, even if the cats were not with us. If the place was too quiet I couldn't relax my brain and sleep. A few years later when my first son was born I somehow managed to wean myself off the white noise machine. I think maybe it was because I was so damn tired I could sleep anywhere, on anything, at any time. So I gave up white noise again.

And then my second son was born, the world's noisiest sleeper. He grunts, farts, and squirms everywhere when he sleeps. Everything he did woke me up. Even when he moved to his room I could hear everything over the monitor despite the volume being low. I slept a lot on the sofa with him that first year, again, I was so tired I could have slept anywhere. But then when he was sleeping better and we'd let him fuss for a while in the middle of the night to see if he could settle back down I started needing white noise again to be able to fall back asleep. If I could hear him thrashing around I'd worry about him. And I'd lie awake or skimming the borders of true sleep. It wasn't restful.

So now I need it again. That quiet hum that helps me focus and settle my active mind. The whirl that drowns out the noises except the cries or emergencies at night. And I'd love to find a machine (instead of the cool mist humidifier because this is FLORIDA and I don't need any more damn humidity in the summer) that isn't a 30 second loop of sound over and over again because my husband can hear the break in the loop and it drives him crazy. So, suggestions are encouraged as I start researching what's out there again. :)


Kekibird June 8, 2009 at 1:41 PM  

Yes life in the dorms is damn near impossible to survive through without growing some thicker skin around your senses. I, too, dormed outside the ladies bathroom on our floor. All hours of the night that door would rotate.

I hear ya on the white noise. We've moved to a quieter neigborhood and I just can't bare the lack of traffic noise.

I hope I adjust soon.

Jinxy June 8, 2009 at 2:28 PM  

I never ever used snooze till I got together with my Hubby two years ago. Heck for many years I would wake up 30 seconds before the alarm would go off so I'd just turn it off and never had to hear it.

We sleep with ocean sounds and I love it but it is on like a 10 second loop. I hate the loop break but love the sound. I used to have a machine that played white noise (static) and it was great but I haven't seen one in forever.

Jackie Blum June 8, 2009 at 2:35 PM  

Your writing makes me laugh out loud. Ian is a fart-in-his-sleep baby, too, so when I read that I cracked up.

We are noise machine people, big time. Ian and Ava both sleep with one because Stefan and I are the noisiest two people that ever walked the planet. I'm just a klutz. Anyway, with both kids' noise machines, we hear the white noise through the monitors. It's loud enough to be substantial for our room. Stefan used to sleep with not one, but two box-style fans aimed at his head. When we got serious in college I got him to give up the fans - it was seriously like sleeping in a wind tunnel.

simsim June 8, 2009 at 3:22 PM  

Out of the desperate need for sleep, and G being are loud, sleeper, I finally said "screw it" and turned off the monitor in G's room. Not that it mattered, b/c I still found the need to occassionally drag myself across the house to check on her.