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Worldwide Ace » Silence of the Womb

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Silence of the Womb

24 September, 2007 (05:47) | Growing Up

The day I was born, my father wandered around the corner from the hospital and bought a teddy bear for me. Simply calling it a teddy bear doesn’t do it justice. The bear was built with a rectangular plastic pack in the center that, when connected to an 8-volt battery and turned on, would imitate the warbling of the womb. The slow purring was meant to soothe newborns to sleep. From the moment it was placed in my tiny grasp, that bear and I were inseparable.

I don’t actually remember ever sleeping with the sound on. Then again, I don’t actually remember sleeping with stuffed animals either, but the effects of Battery Bear on my psyche are still apparent today. By the time I first remember my sleep patterns, around age 6, I was listening to the radio to lull me to sleep. Generally, it was some cheesy easy listening station whose smooth vibes penetrated the silence and coaxed me to bed with choruses of “Somewhere Out There” and other like-minded songs. Sometimes, I would use the sleep feature on my simplistic clock radio, hoping that I’d fall into deep dreamscapes before the hour-long grace period ended and the radio silenced itself. Usually, I’d wake up wary of the silence an hour or two after it shut itself off.

Despite the youthful propensity for sleepovers, they were rare. Even with the radio barely squeaking out the basest of notes, as was necessary for a restful night, most of my friends wanted silence for sleep. When they did happen, I would wait until my friend was soundly sleeping before gently tapping my radio on. Meanwhile, at summer camp trips in which we slept in the great outdoors, I tossed and turned for hours, massaged continuously awake by my own thoughts. Counting sheep never worked. Listening to crickets helped, but the punctuating buzz of other bugs instilled me with fear.

Sleeping in new locations, even if it was a move from one apartment in our tiered Victorian to another or simply a new bed in the same room, shocked my system and prevented a good night’s sleep for quite a while. By keeping the background sounds from varying, it helped ease this transition. Any time I shared a room, be it a sleepover or camp or some other strange situation, I always warned my roommates of my need for music. Most didn’t seem to mind. A few even said they required the same gentle sleep aid.

In high school, I began experimenting with various stations. Radio in the early 90s had finally been commercialized to the point that ads and sweepers between songs could jar me awake with sharp transitions and staticky “PAY ATTENTION” sounds. I surfed the dial trying to find the right balance of music, volume and commercial-free airtime. Eventually, I discovered Harvard radio (WHRV). The beauty of Harvard radio was that it played indie music as I fell asleep (10 PM-2 AM) and good jazz when I awoke (from 5 AM to 10 AM). The downside was that it played experimental and thrash music in between, which often punctuated my nights with a brief interlude to slip out of bed, wander across the room, and flip the station.

Several years ago, I began torrenting my favorite hard to find TV shows. Every few nights, I found myself tossing on a playlist consisting of my favorite episodes, crawling into bed, and falling asleep with the screen still flickering. Much of the time, this was fine, as I often fell sleep with the TV on when ill. Yet I found that most nights my sleep wasn’t as restful. I worked my way through playlists of Home Movies, Looney Tunes, NCIS, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and occasionally random shows that punctuated the regulars. Oddly enough, nights where friends shared my room or my bed and I switched back to music for their sake, I had difficulty ignoring the lack of flashing light glowing gently on the back of my eyelids.

A few months ago, I resolved to permanently switch back to music. It took me a week, but the transition had finally sunk in until yesterday. I know my restlessness has more to do with the cold I’m nursing, but I find myself breaking back to wakefulness when certain artists or songs slip passed my somnolent defenses. Last night, I placed my old Looney Tunes playlist on and rolled over, dropping into dream thanks to a combination of Bugs Bunny and NyQuil.

Tonight, however, sleep simply won’t come. Regardless of what stirs the surface of my aural and visual receptors, I find myself inundated by random thoughts, and waking up and the merest motion in my bed. I can’t bring myself to take any sleep aids (read: NyQuil) because of how early I need to be functioning for work. At one extreme my mind is wrestling with ideas for the second Ace Harmon story, whose plot I finished at work last night, LiveJournal entries, and creative collages of language and art. At the other are doubts, fears, and depression about my financial and employment situation. All I want is a good night’s sleep.

I wish a few simple tunes could bring me the sleep a need.

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  • I have a television and DVD player in the bedroom. I put on a movie and set the thing to “repeat”, which it does until my wife comes to bed about 4 or 5 hours later and turns it off. It has to be just the right kind of film, though: enough to engage my attention while I drift off to sleep but not so engaging I fight off sleep to watch it.

  • I have a television and DVD player in the bedroom. I put on a movie and set the thing to “repeat”, which it does until my wife comes to bed about 4 or 5 hours later and turns it off. It has to be just the right kind of film, though: enough to engage my attention while I drift off to sleep but not so engaging I fight off sleep to watch it.

  • I have had this same problem but I have been sleeping with silence for the past few years. I do have a lot of trouble with sleep still but I have test some meds for sleep. I think after reading this I might try going back to the music.

    I like to sleep to light jazz.

    I also can’t sleep well at other peoples houses but I sleep like a baby in hotel rooms. I also can’t sleep well with other people in the house or room. Sometimes when other poeple are in the house I will have a nightmare in witch I wake up seeinf some one (often my mother) standing over me. I try to move but I can’t. then I wake up and I have to go turn the light on.

  • I have had this same problem but I have been sleeping with silence for the past few years. I do have a lot of trouble with sleep still but I have test some meds for sleep. I think after reading this I might try going back to the music.

    I like to sleep to light jazz.

    I also can’t sleep well at other peoples houses but I sleep like a baby in hotel rooms. I also can’t sleep well with other people in the house or room. Sometimes when other poeple are in the house I will have a nightmare in witch I wake up seeinf some one (often my mother) standing over me. I try to move but I can’t. then I wake up and I have to go turn the light on.

  • There are sound machines with the baby’s womb noises. And, other fun things too. Maybe try one of those fancy shmancy machines from Sharper Image with a cd and a sound soother?

  • There are sound machines with the baby’s womb noises. And, other fun things too. Maybe try one of those fancy shmancy machines from Sharper Image with a cd and a sound soother?

  • My computer, which stays on 24/7, works just as well. And quite frankly, I find the womb noise interesting but too annoying to sleep to at this point. White noise bothers me, but music, which I can turn my thoughts to, quiets my mind.

  • My computer, which stays on 24/7, works just as well. And quite frankly, I find the womb noise interesting but too annoying to sleep to at this point. White noise bothers me, but music, which I can turn my thoughts to, quiets my mind.

  • I’m in complete agreement. Generally, the things I put on when I got sleep were things that are well worn or that I can repeat every line of. It has to be good enough that my mind can listen to it to stop my thoughts, but average enough that it won’t keep me up wanting to watch or listen to it.

  • I’m in complete agreement. Generally, the things I put on when I got sleep were things that are well worn or that I can repeat every line of. It has to be good enough that my mind can listen to it to stop my thoughts, but average enough that it won’t keep me up wanting to watch or listen to it.

  • I understand, white noise is just awful! The devil, I tell you.

  • I understand, white noise is just awful! The devil, I tell you.

  • For a very long time, I rarely dreamt. When I was a small child, I used to make up nightmares so I could crawl into bed with my parents because I never actually had an excuse. Quite frankly, I was jealous of the other kids who had nightmares, never having realized the nasty nature of them.

    About 8 months ago, I began having vivid dreams on a regular basis. I don’t know if it was related to my sobriety, as I cut down on smoking pot then, or if it had to do with the lack of activity and the wealth of creative ideas.

    Now smooth jazz… that could give me nightmares. “NO, KENNY G! STOP! IT HURTS!”

  • For a very long time, I rarely dreamt. When I was a small child, I used to make up nightmares so I could crawl into bed with my parents because I never actually had an excuse. Quite frankly, I was jealous of the other kids who had nightmares, never having realized the nasty nature of them.

    About 8 months ago, I began having vivid dreams on a regular basis. I don’t know if it was related to my sobriety, as I cut down on smoking pot then, or if it had to do with the lack of activity and the wealth of creative ideas.

    Now smooth jazz… that could give me nightmares. “NO, KENNY G! STOP! IT HURTS!”

  • White noise doesn’t have to be awful. Technically ocean sounds and whale song and rain are all considered white noise. Static, however, is definitely awful.

  • White noise doesn’t have to be awful. Technically ocean sounds and whale song and rain are all considered white noise. Static, however, is definitely awful.

  • anonymous

    This thundering rain is the most delightful thing I’ve fallen asleep to in a long time. But I can sleep to silence, rock concerts, people talking to me, professors lecturing, in people’s houses, in the middle of a chattering crowd, in hotel rooms, while someone’s having sex with me, floating on my back in a body of water until I slip in and splash myself awake, behind the wheel of a car… in a house with a mouse, in a box with a fox, on a boat with a goat… you get the picture. Not that I’m a narcoleptic, dangerously so or otherwise.

    But the real reason I’m commenting: you didn’t dream at all in your WHOLE LIFE until 8 months ago?? What! I don’t believe it!

    Kids these days.

  • anonymous

    This thundering rain is the most delightful thing I’ve fallen asleep to in a long time. But I can sleep to silence, rock concerts, people talking to me, professors lecturing, in people’s houses, in the middle of a chattering crowd, in hotel rooms, while someone’s having sex with me, floating on my back in a body of water until I slip in and splash myself awake, behind the wheel of a car… in a house with a mouse, in a box with a fox, on a boat with a goat… you get the picture. Not that I’m a narcoleptic, dangerously so or otherwise.

    But the real reason I’m commenting: you didn’t dream at all in your WHOLE LIFE until 8 months ago?? What! I don’t believe it!

    Kids these days.

  • okkkk, then I mean the static white noise. As in, the button on my sound machine that is called white noise. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • okkkk, then I mean the static white noise. As in, the button on my sound machine that is called white noise. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • I lost the ability to generally fall asleep to music a while ago — probably when I started having roommates.

    Now, it’s audio books. Not just any, but something I’m intricately familiar with. Mostly, either Douglas Adams (all the Hitchhiker books, Dirk Gently, or even the BBC radio series and Salmon of Doubt), or Stephen Hawking (not a ‘read by the author variant). I try some new stuff now and again — Richard Dawkins has a good voice, but it’s hard to be extremely interested and fall asleep at the same time.

    Comedy works very well too, if I know the jokes. George Carlin — especially old stuff, Lenny Bruce, Richard Jeni, Mitch Hedberg, and Eddie Izzard.

  • I lost the ability to generally fall asleep to music a while ago — probably when I started having roommates.

    Now, it’s audio books. Not just any, but something I’m intricately familiar with. Mostly, either Douglas Adams (all the Hitchhiker books, Dirk Gently, or even the BBC radio series and Salmon of Doubt), or Stephen Hawking (not a ‘read by the author variant). I try some new stuff now and again — Richard Dawkins has a good voice, but it’s hard to be extremely interested and fall asleep at the same time.

    Comedy works very well too, if I know the jokes. George Carlin — especially old stuff, Lenny Bruce, Richard Jeni, Mitch Hedberg, and Eddie Izzard.

  • Yeah, familiarity is the key. If I’m too unfamiliar with it, I try to stay awake to watch or listen.

  • Yeah, familiarity is the key. If I’m too unfamiliar with it, I try to stay awake to watch or listen.

  • I didn’t say I never had a dream. I said I never had nightmares. And as for dreams, it’s not so much that I didn’t dream, but that I rarely remembered my dreams upon waking (which, in essence, is the same as not dreaming, since there’s no evidence).

    Most of my dreams I could remember, prior to the last 8 months or so, were almost always massive mashups of pop-culture references. My most vivid dream in high school involved: Miles Davis, my high school, Jason (from Friday the 13th), Freddy (from Nightmare on Elm Street), the housing community from Stay Tuned, the house from The Talented Mr. Ripley, the cover art of the Illuminatus trilogy (which I’ve never actually read), and Prague, among other things. The only reason I know this is because I had to write it all down, being one of the few dreams I remembered.

  • I didn’t say I never had a dream. I said I never had nightmares. And as for dreams, it’s not so much that I didn’t dream, but that I rarely remembered my dreams upon waking (which, in essence, is the same as not dreaming, since there’s no evidence).

    Most of my dreams I could remember, prior to the last 8 months or so, were almost always massive mashups of pop-culture references. My most vivid dream in high school involved: Miles Davis, my high school, Jason (from Friday the 13th), Freddy (from Nightmare on Elm Street), the housing community from Stay Tuned, the house from The Talented Mr. Ripley, the cover art of the Illuminatus trilogy (which I’ve never actually read), and Prague, among other things. The only reason I know this is because I had to write it all down, being one of the few dreams I remembered.

  • anonymous

    Sleep masks sometimes work to keep your mind from paying attention to the ambient light:
    http://tinyurl.com/3xpg4e
    I use this one sometimes, when I can’t sleep. Plus it keeps your eyes warm in winter. No one likes chilly eye balls.

  • anonymous

    Sleep masks sometimes work to keep your mind from paying attention to the ambient light:
    http://tinyurl.com/3xpg4e
    I use this one sometimes, when I can’t sleep. Plus it keeps your eyes warm in winter. No one likes chilly eye balls.

  • I can’t stand having my eyes restricted without an armed guard watching my back. That’s paranoia for you.

  • I can’t stand having my eyes restricted without an armed guard watching my back. That’s paranoia for you.

  • It’s hard for me to sleep without noise in the background unless I’m in passing out stage. If I don’t have something to keep my attention I’ll start thinking about shooting myself.

  • It’s hard for me to sleep without noise in the background unless I’m in passing out stage. If I don’t have something to keep my attention I’ll start thinking about shooting myself.