Right after Thanksgiving, a very loud construction crew replaced the water lines on my street. It was a big project, which required many big trucks and lots of jackhammering (which always seemed to start up right when I sat down to record a podcast). It wasn’t terribly convenient, but it wasn’t supposed to take long, and besides, I’m grateful my city is maintaining our lines.
By the time the holidays rolled around, the project was almost complete. In fact, most of my neighbors probably thought it was done. But the repairs on the street weren’t quite finished: a giant steel plate lay in the road right in front of my house, the kind that goes ka-thunk when you rumble over it, like you’re driving over railroad tracks. It was awfully close to where I lay my head down each night to go to sleep.
At first it was kind of funny. I’d lay down at night and think hey, that’s kind of loud, but then… I’d fall asleep. No big deal, it’s temporary.
But then the holidays came, and the temperature dropped—a lot—and then came the snow, and ice. Crews can’t work in those conditions.
I thought I’d get used to the rumble. Instead, I began dreaming of fireworks, nearly every night.
But earlier this month I traveled for work, and caught winter storms coming and going that ruined my itinerary, and that—plus the time zone change—threw my internal clock completely out of whack. I didn’t sleep when I was gone, and then, like an overtired toddler, fell further behind once I got home. I’d go to bed early only to stare at the ceiling, hearing ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk, for hours and hours, and drag myself out of bed nine hours later (9!! I was trying so hard!!), miserable and exhausted.
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This is the part where I tell you an app is saving my life right now. It sounds lame, I think, that an app is rescuing me—but an app is absolutely rescuing me right now.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. We’ve given dozens of sound machines as baby gifts (where was ours, now that I needed it?), and the similar apps have saved many a potentially sleepless night before, in noisy hotels, but I must have been too tired to think clearly. Finally, after sleepless night #3, I remembered—and downloaded a free white noise app, chose the “running shower” setting, turned up the volume, and slept like a baby. (Or, as my college health professor used to say, like a ten-year-old boy—they sleep much sounder than tiny infants.)
And after a few nights of sleeping nine straight hours (after my husband requested a change to the “heavy rain shower” setting), I felt like a functioning human again.
An app sounds silly, but sleep is essential. Sleep is saving me. And if an app helps that happen, so be it.
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Next Friday is February 2, the halfway point of winter. For the fourth year running, we’re joining together to combat the winter doldrums by making our lists of what’s saving our lives right now and sharing them here. Some line items on my list will sound silly (think: apps); some will sound more serious (think: exercise or meditation or morning prayer). This list-sharing and life-sharing has been one of my favorite things we do all year around here, and I can’t wait to do it again.
On February 2, I’ll share my list—and you’re invited to share yours, too.
Winter is hard, but by pausing at its halfway point to share the things that are helping us through it, we’ll lighten the load.
I can’t wait to hear what’s on your list.
P.S. My list from last year, and the fab four habits for a better life.