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Missing those days when you slept like a baby in warm, loving arms? As a spoonie, sleep is one of the most elusive things I experience, sometimes failing to arrive in time for bed or fleeting rapidly in the smallest hours of the night. For those of us with dysautonomia, such as POTS or NMH, or chronic anxiety or PTSD, can easily get stuck in flight or fight made, keeping our brains from being able to calm down and fall into a deep sleep.
Its much the same for conditions like MCAS and allergy that dump anxiety fueling chemicals into our blood such as cortisol. In these situations, sleep can be a desperate thing. At times, feeling as elusive and unreal as a flying hippo. Some of us even fail to reach REM stage sleep, a situation I was caught in off and on for some years.
You might be surprised to find how much a simple machine that only takes up a few inches of real estate on your nightstand, can help combat some of the issues we experience with sleep. I certainly was. A sound machine helps to aid in sleep by keeping noisy distractions to a minimum and helping our central nervous system to relax.
Do you use a sound machine? When you first began using it, what are some of the first things you noticed? Perhaps you had a harder time sleeping with it at first, or at least getting there, but once used to it, how did it change your sleep? For me, it started by waking less in the middle of the night and I started feeling more refreshed in the morning.
My husband has used white noise to sleep since long before I met him. His version of white noise was to turn a fan on high every night and we quickly found that while he was often too warm, I was turning into a human Popsicle nightly. In order to save the relationship, we sought our solution through the use of sound machines.
The Benefits of Sound Machines
Eventually, I came to need the sound, too, though originally I thought the idea seemed silly and down right unsafe. I’d spent my life with PTSD and lived with the people who gave it to me. There was no place safe for me and often sleep would only come visit me in the classroom. If I didn’t think I could hear well enough in my surroundings, it’s always heightened my anxiety.
While my husband had to have noise, it made me very uncomfortable at first and I didn’t sleep well. I became used to it after a while and stopped giving it any thought. I came to understand that the noise it cuts out is extraneous background noises that don’t hold any sort of imminent threat. I would still wake up to sounds of an intruder or even just the cats crying for breakfast. What it cuts down on are the noises of neighbors walking and talking overhead, the rumble of cars going past, dogs barking and the whistle of far off trains. Those things are certainly not threats in my bedroom, but sometimes an anxiety-filled brain can no longer prioritize threat levels accurately. It also makes the sound of my husband’s snore fade into the background pretty well until he lands on his back for an all out symphony.
I realized eventually I couldn’t live without it and how much it helped to block out all of this distracting noise that tends to keep my mind on high alert and constantly searching for danger. It was exactly what I needed to relax more deeply into sleep. Only I wasn’t quite utilizing the noise machine right. A fact I didn’t understand until we moved the sound machine over to my nightstand to save him some space.
I couldn’t believe the difference. I slept so much better when it was right by my head. I knew he was never getting it back. When David started complaining that he wasn’t sleeping well for some reason, I immediately understood it was because the sound had gotten too far away and dim for him. We had to have two; one on each nightstand, nice and close to our heads.
We bought a second one we like much better than our old one and we now each have one on our nightstand. During our vacation and on July 4th, it got the real test. We live a real rock `n roll lifestyle of chronic illness and early work hours regardless of things like holidays. We both have dysautonomia on top of my PTSD and his ADHD. Sleep doesn’t come easy for either of us and we have startle responses like an early 1990’s car alarm; loud, inaccurate and possessing a hair trigger.
Despite it all, we went to bed at 9 PM on Independence Day and our sound machines blocked the neighborhood and city fireworks so well I slept through them! Now I’m turning mine up even more, trying to make sure I’ve got maximum coverage. Maybe my neighbors upstairs will even cease to exist! They have feet 👣👣 but I’m pretty sure they change to hooves behind closed doors. Damned devils! 👹😂
According to Karen Asp on Everyday Health, there are a number of ways sound machines can help people:
In a study published in June 2016 in the Journal of Caring Sciences, individuals reported sleeping better while using a noise machine in a hospital setting (complete with various background noises you might expect to hear overnight in a hospital) compared with hospital patients who didn’t use one.
These machines also work well for people with tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, which is why they are the first treatment option Dr. Brodner offers patients with this condition. “During the day when there’s other noise and stimuli around them, they don’t notice the ringing,” he says. “Yet because there’s no background noise at night, the ringing bothers them, and those machines can help drown it out so they can sleep.”Can a Sound Machines Actually Help Me Sleep Better?
So far, our new sound machine works great, never failing to do its job whether at home or on vacation. It’s also a very easy electronic device to operate, with the dials and settings on top, where they are easy to see and reach. The push-button style on/off switch is easy to locate. Twirl the volume button to turn it up or down, or push on it to change your sound selection. No need to select a sound nightly, either. The machine will automatically play based on the last setting, unless the electricity gets interrupted. This makes it a breeze to operate on groggy mornings or bleary eyed nights.
I also tested it in the living room. It seems to help with my sensory overload and helps me to concentrate when working to cut out all the neighborly noise. Some of the best bucks I ever dropped, and since it’s so affordable, I didn’t feel bad for splurging on a second machine.
Sound Machines for Work? Yes!
Sound machines aren’t only good for sleeping and relaxation when you have dysautonomia, PTSD or anxiety. They can also help keep your mind on task when working at home or in the office and can provide greater relaxation in other areas of your home. We recently moved from a rural area to a much more populated one and I’m finding that using a sound machine during the day tunes out most of the distracting noises of high traffic, emergency vehicles, dogs, the neighbor’s quarreling or the screams and giggles of children playing, which frankly can be like nails on a chalkboard due to my sound sensitivity and sensory overload.
And while it seems like it could mess with your sensory overload, it actually has the opposite effect for me. I find it very calming. It provides a comforting noise that is consistent and allows me to tune out the distractions, so I find it to be a useful tool for both sensory overload and retaining my focus. No need for uncomfortable headphones or ear plugs to drown out the noise.
The Uzopi Portable Sleep Sound Machine.
I chose this model myself, as I liked the compact design and easy functionality. In addition to what I’ve already spoken about, here are some other great features that come with this sound machine:
- The 9 sound settings (White Noise, Campfire, Wave, Brook,Rain, Thunder Rain, Cricket, Forest, and Lullaby) create a soothing environment that promotes sleep, relaxation, and concentration.
- Setting the sleep timer will automatically turn off the device after 15, 30, 60, or 120 minutes.
- The compact design easily slips into any suitcase or backpack. You rarely miss a night of sleep, even on the go!
- The volume is plenty loud and easy to adjust so you can filter out just the right amount of noise to suit your needs.
- Provides clear, consistent sound without annoying burps, clicks or poorly looped tracks to distract your mind.
Of course, one of the loveliest things about this model is that you get all of these benefits for a very economical price! Buy it now on Amazon: Uzopi Portable Sleeping Sound Machine or your preferred retailer. By purchasing through the link, you are helping the Zebra Pit to meet operating costs and continue publishing and yet it doesn’t increase the price for you.
So what are some other things you do to try and ensure a good night’s sleep? We’d love to hear about them in the comments! As always, thanks for reading. I hope this post has helped reacquaint you with your old pal, Sleep!
Further Reading and Resources:
- Study Claims White Noise Can Damage Your Brain, but Don’t Panic
- Can a Sound Machine Actually Help Me Sleep Better?
- 6 Awesome Reasons White Noise Helps You Sleep Better
- Sleep Central: The Benefits of Sleep Therapy Systems