By MATP Staff Member Laura Hall
I have always had trouble sleeping. Even as a little girl, I’d lie awake thinking that I was the only one in the world awake. I’d wake up my sister, who would not be happy and certainly not comforting. Now I’m an adult, and thankfully understand the concept of people awake in different time zones, shift workers, etc. However, the bedtime anxiety has never gone away. I can’t seem to slow down my thoughts, and it seems like all I do is keep myself awake by worrying that I’ll never fall asleep.
Watching TV or using my phone keeps me awake because of the blue light. My Cerebral Palsy makes it difficult to hold books, so I sometimes listen to books through the National Library Services‘ free service for people who have print disabilities, BARD. I have started getting myself into a bedtime routine, often using the Amazon Echo’s skills to play Jeopardy and then relaxation music as I prepare to wind down. I’m finding this is helping, but my heart still races when I lay down and turn the lights off.
During a random conversation at lunch, my colleagues on the Michigan Assistive Technology Program were discussing which podcasts were their favorites. Someone mentioned a podcast called “Sleep with Me“. I laughed at first but she explained that it was a podcast meant to help you fall asleep. I thought it was going to be more relaxation music, but I gave it a try. The podcast host, “Scooter”, explained that he was going to help me sleep by telling me a bedtime story. Odd, I thought, but I kept listening. Some gentle music started, and Scooter began talking. Several minutes went by and I realized that I had no idea what he was talking about. I laid there trying to make sense of it, and, ironically, fell asleep. I tried it a few more times, and always fell asleep. Soon, it dawned on me that the podcast isn’t supposed to make sense! The genius of this podcast is that it is supposed to distract you from your racing thoughts and bore you to sleep. Even if you don’t sleep, (and I have yet to stay awake for an entire podcast) Scooter is there to keep you company.
Listeners have also created their own facebook page dedicated to the podcast. Posts range from tips on sleep hygiene, funny animations, or just posts from people who can’t sleep during the night. The best part is that someone is always awake and online to chat with so you never feel alone. Several people, called “Noderators” monitor the page and are available no matter what time it is. I finally don’t feel like I’m the only one in the world awake! The Sleep with Me podcast is an unusual, but free and effective form of assistive technology that helps me with my anxiety and insomnia. Are there other tactics you use?