01 Feb If You Use Sleep Sounds at Night, Stop
I was diagnosed with insomnia several years ago, I would lie down in bed and my heart would race, my imagination would run wild causing me to think of every terrible scenario that could happen and I would sweat so much that sometimes I would have to take a shower in the middle of the night. My Doctor explained it to me in a way that compared it to someone with arachnophobia, a fear of spiders, the same way they see a spider and panic uncontrollably was the same thing that happened to me when I would try and go to sleep.
I tried everything from night time yoga, deep breathing exercises, a new bed, medication and even started to get a little dependent on narcotics, I used anything at my disposal to counter my irrational fear of going to sleep. Now let me be clear, I was never a drug user, never smoked or drank or popped pills to get high but when I started using drugs to help me sleep, I knew that something serious needed to be done before it spiraled into something worse.
I talked to a lot of online forums where people like me could connect and try to see that we are not alone, it helps, having people to talk to who understand that Insomnia isn’t watching tv at night instead of sleeping, its not staying up late on your phone and being restless. Insomnia is a condition.
As I scanned the sleepless forum, looking for some internet friends I had made I stumbled across a post with an interesting title. It read: “I have found the cure for Insomnia” and usually when I saw something like this it was some sort of sponsored ad, generally some bot trying to sell us pills or something. But seeing as though the alternative was to get into bed and have a panic attack…I clicked on the thread and began to read. The Original Poster, or OP, had this to say.
“I have found the cure for Insomnia, I have slept perfectly every night since I downloaded the app, it’s called ‘Sounds like sleep’ created by a company called DreamSystems.” The OP went on to describe their experience with the app and how quickly it worked. I scanned down to see several regulars commenting and saying they downloaded the app and couldn’t wait to try it, others only had positive things to say about using the app already.
So, I downloaded the app as well. I keep a Bluetooth speaker in my bedroom, usually just to play some soft music while I cleaned or as a distraction from the Insomnia. I made sure not to check the clock as I found out early on that doing so would only make me panic more about how badly I needed to fall asleep which would only keep me awake longer. Insomnia is a cruel condition.
I opened the app which greeted me with a soft animation of a cartoony robot getting into bed. The app had several options: Rainy nights, The beach of dreams, White noise and Soothing sounds. I had always had a fondness for storms, so I tried Rainy nights. The volume was perfect, not too loud to draw my attention but just loud enough to block out any other sounds. I sat on the edge of my bed and reached for my nightly anti-anxiety medication. The sounds of the wind and rain washed over me and surprisingly I was already feeling tired. Without taking the medication I laid back and rest my head on the pillow.
As always, my heartbeat picked up, I felt my face get hot and I braced myself for the coming dread. I took a deep breath, held it for a count of five then exhaled. A low thunder crawled across the room from my speaker, leaves rustled, and the rain picked up just slightly. I felt my heart return to normal and my face no longer felt hot. Not daring to disturb the effects I closed my eyes without even getting under my blankets and fell instantly asleep.
I woke up more refreshed than I had felt in years, I nearly sprang out of bed. I grabbed my phone and checked the time. It was seven on the dot. I had no idea when I had finally gone to sleep but it was late, and yet I felt amazing. I went about my day like it was any other, only I was happy, I was energized and to my surprise the general anxiety that would often plague me didn’t show its ugly face even once. Truthfully, I was looking forward to bed time. Just to try the app again.
That night I took the time to get under the covers, I set the app and this time chose the beach of dreams. As the waves began to crash gently, I closed my eyes, still expecting the wave of panic to begin. When it didn’t, I sighed relief and almost felt tears begin to form. I had been a slave to Insomnia for years, and now with just the sleep sounds from this app, I truly felt cured. Before I knew it, I was asleep.
The next morning, I woke up even more refreshed. I checked my phone, it was again seven on the dot. I went through my daily routine with such a pep in my step that people even commented on how happy I was.
When It was time for bed, I again set the app, this time to white noise and got into bed fearlessly. I was asleep in seconds.
When I awoke this time, I felt exhausted, like I had run a marathon all night. I groggily sat up, without looking I knew it was seven in the morning. I went about my day not quite as peppy as I had been the previous day, but it was still better than before when I couldn’t sleep at all. I felt odd all day, I knew I had slept. But I felt like I had dreamed I was awake or something. When I got into bed that night, I selected Soothing Sounds, from the app and closed my eyes. Again, I fell asleep in no time.
I awoke in such a panic that I thought I was having a midnight panic attack, something that was common for people with anxiety and insomnia My eyes searched the room, I don’t know how but I felt that something was in the room with me. Left to right I looked, the room was empty, I looked again. There it was, crouched at the foot of my bed, with both hands on the blankets as if it had just climbed out from underneath my bed…I saw it, its hair hung over its face but when it saw me looking at it, it froze. We were both frozen. I wanted to jump up, I wanted to kick and scream I tried to…but my body was locked. Stiff as a board I could not even close my hand into a fist. I screamed internally at this thing at the foot of my bed, the only thing in my entire body that could move…were my eyes. The thing cocked its head to the side. It didn’t make a sound, but I knew that somehow it realized I couldn’t move. I couldn’t fight it.
I had heard of sleep paralysis before, it’s a state where your body is still asleep even after you wake up. It usually lasts only a moment or two while your brain tries to comprehend that you are both asleep…and awake. I remembered reading that victims would sometimes hallucinate that evil things were in their rooms because when we’re paralyzed like this, we begin to panic and manifest images of evil things that wanted to hurt us. This was a hallucination.
My heart was thundering in my chest. I focused all of my energy into just moving a finger I thought that if I could move one finger than the rest of my body would follow. It was no use…I was trapped in my bed. The thing knew this, it pressed down on the bed with both hands and dragged its body higher up the bed, its long hair still covering its face. I felt the pressure on the bed as it pushed down with both hands. It was almost over me now, I screamed, and I screamed and…not a sound escaped my closed mouth. I could feel its hair on my face I slammed my eyes closed…and the sounds of the app filled my ears, I fell asleep instantly.
When I woke up it was with a gasp, I shot upright in my bed and looked around the room. Nothing. Empty, just the light from the sun pouring in through the window. I exhaled a deep sigh of relief and went about my day.
That night I turned the the app on, I chose Soothing Sounds again, no particular reason. I turned it on and got into bed. Like each night before I was asleep in a matter of seconds. But my sleep didn’t last long, again I woke up in a panic. My eyes shot open and I searched the room once more, again I felt my body locked to the bed. Sleep Paralysis had me again… If it could, I’m sure my lip would have trembled in fear. As I slowly looked down to the foot of my bed.
It wasn’t there. The long-haired thing that had crawled out from my bed last night…wasn’t there. I exhaled through my nose and looked up at the ceiling. It was above me, holding onto the ceiling like a lizard, its long hair was hanging inches above my face. I felt the muscles in my body tighten. I had never wanted to scream more than I did that night. With this thing over me I could only inhale and exhale, unable to lift…even a finger. I forced myself to breath slower, I didn’t want to alert it that I was awake. The sounds of my breathing slowed. And I heard it, not from the creature clinging to the ceiling but from the Bluetooth speaker that projected the Soothing Sounds of the app.
“Come out” a voice whispered through the speaker “come out sweet mother and feast while it slumbers” the voice was so faint I had to be imagining it as well, “Come out and feed”
As if the creature had waited for this command it began to move, not its body no, but I could see the hair moving, it had first faced the ceiling but now above me I watched as it was tilting its head back to look down at me, it kept tilting extending further than humanly possible the hair swayed as this thing whose body clung to the ceiling and back was to me, it now faced me. White eyes and razor-sharp teeth it had tilted so far back that it was looking directly at me. If I could have, I would have screamed until my lungs gave out, but I couldn’t…my eyes rolled back and I did the only thing I could do, I fell back asleep. Lulled there by the soothing sounds.
I woke up, at seven this morning. I again felt weak, like I had worked out for the entirety of the night. Every one of my muscles were sore. I slowly got out of bed and went about my day. My day was uneventful, and I felt tired for most of it. I didn’t turn the app on when I got into bed, I was hesitant. But I had to know, I stepped out of bed about thirty minutes ago and turned the app on. I listened for a while, I had started to feel sleepy but since I was standing up and out of bed, I was able to fight the sleep. Twenty minutes in, I heard a voice, faintly over the sounds of the Rain storm.
“Come out, come out, oh sweet mother and feast while it slumbers.”