7 Sept., 2020

Comes in gray. No color choices.

The weighted blanket arrived two days ago. It was a day late. I can’t really ding the people I ordered it from for that, except for maybe choosing the carrier they chose, albeit, I do suspect that though I ordered it on a Friday, they didn’t ship it until the following Monday, but, that’s yesterday’s news. It’s here now.

I’ve had two nights with the weighted blanket. It’s no miracle, but like so many other things, it’s a few more pebbles to dam up the brook. I’ve fallen asleep pretty fast both nights I’ve used it, and stayed asleep longer than usual, so, while it hasn’t been my Lourdes, according to my Fitbit, I slept from 9:15pm-3am last night, with only one sustained waking period, of about 25 minutes. There was another of about ten minutes, and I remember them clearly. The ten minute one was a bathroom break, and it took a while to fall back asleep– but I didn’t have to take anything to do so. There are eight thin red lines, which means there were eight times the Fitbit registered me waking up. I don’t remember them, so they could have been movement when I didn’t really wake up. There are no light blue “restless” lines. I think the last time I slept that long without really waking up, my son was a baby, and I’d sleep that much after being up for 18 hours with him.

Weighted blanket technology

I have no idea what a weighted blanket does. In the past, I worked with autistic people, and they often calmed to weighted clothing and blankets, theoretically, because their proprioception is impaired– they may have trouble knowing where their limbs are in space if something isn’t there to give them sensory feedback, which weighted clothes and blankets do.

So what about being asleep could interfere with proprioception, to the point that it wakes me up?

Well, certainly, it could wake me up to lose track of my arms and legs. But I don’t remember ever waking up discombobulated because my limbs were off floating in space.

I do know that I am pretty good at sleep paralysis, because I have awakened still in sleep paralysis many times. I can’t move anything– can’t even open my eyes. But I know exactly where the arms and legs that I can’t move are. If anything, they feel heavier than usual.

The first time it happened, I thought I was dying. I must have been about nine years old. I tried to scream, but couldn’t do even that. My eyes were closed, but I could see my room perfectly clearly in my mind, as though my eyes were open. The one thing I could move was my eyes, under my eyelids, and they darted around, looking at the different things in my room, which I knew from memory were there.

In my mind, I was thrashing around, beating at the bed, and tossing the covers like sea in a storm.

Was I dead? was this death? awareness, but the inability to interact with the world? I’d had little religious upbringing, so I was free to imagine what I wanted.

If this wasn’t death– yet, but I was dying, please let it finish quickly.

This was the first time I ever prayed.

Then something startled me, my head popped up, and suddenly I could move. I sat on the edge of my bed and tested everything– elbows, knees, wrists, waist, eyelids, eyebrows, neck.

Yes, everything seemed to work.

I never told anyone what had happened, though, because I was afraid of being hauled off to the doctor, put through batteries of tests, and then given terrible news. I preferred my nine-year-old head under the sand.

That night, I had my first experience of being afraid to go to bed, and then of lying wide awake, staring into the uncharitable darkness.

I’m placing the weighted blanket in the “success” column. It cost $29.99 + $6 shipping, so it was a good gamble that has paid off.

More importantly, though, there’s something about the heavy blanket that makes me want to stay in bed. I want to pull it up to my chin, and tuck my arms under it. It makes lying there waiting to fall asleep easier, somehow.

The weighted blanket is not a fully unqualified success, because it’s hot over regular bedclothes, but not enough blanket by itself, just over a sheet. It’s going to be great in the winter, but it’s going to take a lot of trial and error next summer to find the right mix of sheets, and blankets. It also doesn’t appear particularly washable, even though it says machine-washable, but I own a sewing machine, so getting a couple of sheets and a zipper, and sewing them together to make a cover isn’t a big deal.

Actually, I’m looking at it right now. It looks like it would not be happy to have anything spilled on it– not that there’s much chance of it, but one never knows. Maybe I should make it a cover out of something sturdier than a couple of bed sheets.

Published by Chava Freya

Insomnia is a brain-based disorder I’ve had since I was at least 16 years old. Anti-anxiety medicine doesn’t help, except when there’s external anxiety exacerbating the problem. Sleep hygiene is irrelevant, because it’s not the problem, although I have submitted to it five different times, including having sleep specialists actually come to my home and advise me on rearranging furniture, buying special pillows, forbidding TVs in the bedroom, telling me the bed was for nothing but sleep, sex and reading, and when that didn’t work, then nothing but sleep. Period. That was the biggest failure of all.

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