but I have promises to keep
September 26, 2011 7:29 AM   Subscribe

Insomnia-filter: Help this stressed-out couch-sleeper re-learn how to sleep in the bedroom (with television).

I am going through a tremendous amount of stress in my life. As a result, my sleep patterns are a mess and I've taken to sleeping on the couch so that when I wake up multiple times in the night, the chatty blandness of Married With Children reruns or Wen haircare infomercials can lull me back to sleep. Silence & the radio aren't enough, and I don't want to get up and be productive when this happens. I need to sleep.

The bedroom doesn't have tv, and even if we put one in there, there's no cable so no reception. We have computers & can put a dvd in, but I'm looking for something that plays all night, so when I wake with a start, I don't have to find a remote, put a new movie in, etc., or get up, pick out a new Hulu show, etc. Are there any websites that play Nick at Night or something, all night long, so that I can just set it and forget it?

As for the insomnia itself, I don't want to take anything because I get up at 6 each morning & can't afford to be groggy. I have tried valerian and found it pretty useless. I do drink coffee but only first thing in the morning. And I'm seeing a counselor, not for this specifically, but for the big-picture stuff.

I appreciate any suggestions, but mostly I'm looking for practical, tech/media suggestions for the bedroom so my partner and I can sleep together again. He can sleep with Dragnet on in the background, so solving my sleep problem won't cause one for him.
posted by headnsouth to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Would playing a book on tape on repeat be enough like tv and unlike the radio that it would work? (It is for me.)
posted by jeather at 7:36 AM on September 26, 2011

What about getting a TV tuner card for your computer, plus an antenna? I investigated these a few years ago but I ended up not buying one, so I don't have any specific recommendations.
posted by muddgirl at 7:41 AM on September 26, 2011

Best answer: You can set Hulu to "autoplay," which means that when one video ends, it'll play the next one in the series or on your playlist. So pick a series with a million episodes, or create a really long queue, and then put that on before you go to sleep. It'll play all night without you having to do anything.
posted by decathecting at 7:51 AM on September 26, 2011

What program do you use to play DVDs on your computer? I believe Media Player Classic has a repeat function (and I doubt it's the only one).
posted by somanyamys at 7:52 AM on September 26, 2011

Have you tried melatonin?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:54 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

You don't specify why radio doesn't work - if it's that you need something visual than this won't work. But if you need something not too dramatic (like right wing talk radio) and not music, I'd suggest CBC Overnight which I think is available online. It plays documentaries and news from around the world. It's actually really great programming but it works so well at putting me to sleep that I only actually end up listening to like 30 minutes of it.

Oh and the other thing guaranteed to put me to sleep (and I usually cannot sleep with tv on) is nature documentaries like The Blue Plant and Lives of Birds. They're a series of DVDs so you could put on on repeat. Just beware of the coots drowning their chicks and the hagfish.
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:27 AM on September 26, 2011

alternately, can you temporarily move a futon or daybed into your tv room?
I fall asleep to Wen haircare commercials too! Look how much color washes out with regular shampzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
posted by WeekendJen at 8:40 AM on September 26, 2011

Seconding melatonin. As long as you take it 1/2 to 1 hour before bedtime, you shouldn't feel groggy from it.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:52 AM on September 26, 2011

Have you tried the tv without cable? I have always been able to get one or two stations without it. Fuzzy, yes. Bad programing, yes. But that's really not the point anyways.

(also, my trick has been to turn the sound low enough that my brain really has to work at hearing the dialogue. Eventually it gives up and off to sleep I go.)
posted by Vaike at 10:09 AM on September 26, 2011

Audiobooks on repeat will totally work. I used to have racy mind insomnia, and this is exactly how I fixed it.

Get a selection of audiobooks that are well read - the volume is even, the voice pleasant - and are books that you like and are familiar with - so you don't get caught up in the plot and are kept awake. Just load up winamp with a nightsworth of book, and let it go. I keep a netbook beside my bed, and actually have computer speakers mounted in the top corners of my bed. Having the speakers close to my head means that I can play the books at a really low volume - just enough to be audible, but quiet enough that once I'm asleep, I tune it right out. Since starting this arrangement, I have slept better than I have all my life.

My favourite night-listening authors are Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett - fun, engrossing, and a bit weird and dreamy.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:11 AM on September 26, 2011

There's a new channel called Cloo (with some pretty funny promo spots, actually) and they have been doing all-night long L&O SVU and CI marathons. This is perfect for me since I've seen pretty much all of 'em and don't have to really pay attention. I start out watching and then roll over and snuggle down and just listen to my TV cop-friends soothe me to sleep. I'm trying not to examine this habit too closely -- why I find sex crimes and forensics so relaxing. But, love those marathons!
posted by thinkpiece at 11:32 AM on September 26, 2011

I've started to get boring here about melatonin, so just read about it before you take it like a sleeping pill, because it's not.

Is the light an important part of this process? When I stay in hotel rooms and need hardcore background noise, I put on an audiobook on my laptop. I have several I keep there (from my Audible subscription) for this purpose. I tend to prefer British male readers (Neil Gaiman is probably my favorite), but you might find that to have a more tv-like noise you'd prefer a "full cast" production (that term will get you lots of hits on Audible for research purposes even if you don't want to subscribe) with multiple narrators and a bit more of an actor-y cadence.

Audiobooks, for me, are like nyQuil if I am reclined. In the car, doing chores, cooking dinner: I'm totally engaged and listening. Past a 45-degree angle and I'm sawing logs in minutes.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:48 AM on September 26, 2011

I don't know if you're interested in this, but there's lots of evidence that watching tv actually exacerbates sleeping problems and prevents you from falling back asleep. Have you considered just reading a book?
posted by Kololo at 12:30 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also seconding the "not sure why you said no radio," but if it's a matter of "the stations suck", you may want to take a look at some of the suggestions from one of my AskMes where I was soliciting songs for a soothing-music playlist. Try loading a bunch of those up and then put that playlist (or CD, if you're a luddite like me) on repeat. (I posted my list of "here's what I picked" and it worked fantastic, but the whole thread had a ton of other suggestions.)

As for valerian: are you using the tea or the capsules? My own doctor said that capsules work better than tea, and you need to give them a couple weeks to "build up" to the point where they'd work effectively. Adding magnesium supplements also helped me a hell of a lot (even if I didn't get much sleep, the magnesium helped it be good QUALITY sleep).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:49 PM on September 26, 2011

What about whitenoise, like a loud fan? Or I use stereomood, and pick a mood that sounds 'sleepy'.
posted by shinyshiny at 2:35 PM on September 26, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas everyone. Dude set up an old tv with an antenna and it worked well enough.

I tried melatonin last night, a 5mg lozenge. Does it take a while to start working? Because ... nothin'. :(
posted by headnsouth at 7:30 AM on September 27, 2011

When my husband was taking melatonin, he took it 30 minutes before bed (not right before-hand), and it generally took a week or so of regular use to start seeing the effects. Also, I've heard anecdotal reports that 3mg can sometimes work better than 5mg.

I hesitated to recommend melatonin because, for my husband, it helped him fall asleep at first, but it made his sleep much lighter throughout the night. It seems like you're already having problems waking up in the middle of the night, and I worry that melatonin might exacerbate that - just a heads up.
posted by muddgirl at 7:50 AM on September 27, 2011

I tried melatonin last night, a 5mg lozenge. Does it take a while to start working? Because ... nothin'. :(
I found it to have variable results, but the most effective was the sublingual type. Like anything people will respond differently, but I've never heard a complaint like the one muddgirl mentions from the many people I know who take it.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:09 PM on September 27, 2011

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