The App that Saved My (and my baby's!) Sleep

Nicole Walton is a full time beverage marketer, mother of a two-year-old, and freelance writer. She dabbles in yoga, vegetarian cooking, and loves anything wellness.

It was 2 AM and I had finally gotten the baby back to sleep. Yet, there I was, wide-awake and counting the minutes until he’d wake up again. I laid there, knowing sleep is precious and an integral part of mental and physical health, but even that thought didn’t help lull me into my REMs. In fact, every time I’d hear my son move my eyes would jolt open and my brain would be on alert.  Even worse, my tossing and turning would wake my son up and start the vicious cycle over again.

After so many of these nights, in a sleep deprived delirium, I searched Amazon for solutions. There HAD to be something that would help. A new bassinet that vibrated? A baby-swaddling body suit? An adult-sized swaddler for myself? I was getting desperate. Finally, Amazon, in its creepy but infinite wisdom, recommended sound machines.

Sound machines come in all shapes and sizes, but the most basic are a small speaker that fill the room with white-noise. This works to reduce the difference between the constant frequency of sound the machine is outputting and the unexpected noises that may startle you in your sleep (i.e. a door slamming or a floor creaking.) Typically, when we’re caught in non-REM sleep (light sleep where wakefulness is likely to occur) those abrupt sounds are what threaten our ability to stay asleep.

I was skeptical that a magic noise maker would solve my infant sleep issues. But I was also tired and hopelessly desperate, so logically, I decided to find a free noise machine app to test it out.

That night, I went through my normal bedtime routine, turned the sound on through my Kindle, and snuggled into bed with anticipation. In general, my son wakes up every two hours and I had need at least half an hour to get us both back to sleep. That was my baseline. With the sound machine on, I heard his cry after a solid 4 hours of rest. Already I was impressed, not to mention pleased with how quickly I was able to get my son and myself back to sleep for another 3 hours. I didn’t even have time to check the clock twice to know about how long it took to fall asleep. I was sold. It didn’t miraculously make him sleep through the night, but compared to our previous standards, I felt like wonder woman with a restful 7 hours.

It’s no surprise that many people rave about sound machines. They block out unexpected sounds that would normally startle you awake, they mimic womb noises for infants helping them feel safe, and promote relaxation and concentration even when not trying to sleep.

Want one? There are a few rules of thumb to prevent dependency and ensure that the noise isn’t unintentionally disrupting your sleep.

1. Keep the volume low - just high enough to muffle sounds. It shouldn’t completely cover up outside noises, but rather deflect their intensity so that they aren’t shocking.

2. Point the sound machine in the direction of where the outside noise could be coming from. For instance, pointing it toward the door or a window rather than toward your ear.

3. Vary the type of sounds from night to night, switching from white noise to relaxing ocean sounds or even cars driving by.  

From my experience, Amazon was right. The sound machine app was just what my son and I needed to FINALLY get some serious sleep.

 

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Jessica Baumgardner