life in a tiny apartment.

March 13, 2013

Tip #55: Sleep tight.

At the time of writing I am sitting in front of my computer in the bluish pool of light that only comes from a screen being turned on the middle of the night. I am trying, unsuccessfully to make my keystrokes noiseless.

Difficulty in falling asleep is not something that commonly afflicts me. As my dad is fond of saying, I’m the kind of person whose head hits the pillow once, bounces back, and before it hits the pillow a second time, I’m sleeping. Once I’m asleep, I tend to stay that way. There are no midnight snacks or trips to the bathroom. For all my other failings, I’m an ace when it comes to sleeping.

Until I’m not.

Sleeplessness in a tiny apartment is no joke. There’s no hiding inside these four walls, no sneaking off to curl up on a couch in some faraway room where the sounds of your munching on cookies and feverishly clacking away at the keyboard won’t disturb someone else’s slumber.

Tonight, James spoke up after we’d been in bed for about 30 minutes.

“Are you still awake? Because it sounds like you’re awake.”

I hadn’t made a noise, and I was sure that I wasn’t even fidgeting, but there must be some kind of super-spousal-hearing that develops over time and can detect the sound of blinking eyelids. I was awake and I wasn’t going to be falling asleep anytime soon, so I trundled down the ladder from the loft and fired up my computer to begin to write. There aren’t walls on our loft, so the only thing separating me from James now is my wakefulness and a precious few extra feet of space. As a remedy, I’m sipping a cup of valerian root tea. Have you tried the stuff? It smells like your dirtiest socks, but I promise it does wonders for quieting a racing mind. That’s what I’m hoping anyway. James too, undoubtedly.

When there’s only one room and you’re not the only one in it, you’ve got to at least try to fall asleep.

PS. Did you guys read this article this week? Or maybe this one last fall? Good reading for your next sleepless night or your morning coffee, whichever comes first.

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  • Reply megan March 13, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I live in a loft too and it means what one person is doing, the other is enjoying the effect of, no matter what. Not cool when the other person gets up at the crack of dawn 😉

    So I invested in some solid sleeping paraphernalia! A sleep mask to lock in the dark, I mean seriously lock in the dark, but beware… you'll look like a bee.

    These ones are great because they don't press on your eyes so you get your REM flutters and all that goodness.

    My other trick is earplugs…I know this sounds weird, but when I can't sleep, if I put in earplugs it helps slow my mind. I think it's because your breathing almost sounds amplified and it muffles out that cool but annoying girl in my head that won't stop chit chatting.

  • Reply Chloe Moon March 13, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I live in a one room studio and my boyfriend and I are encountering similar issues. He loves to sleep on the side of the bed closet to the door and I'm up against the wall so I have to crawl over him if I wake up restless in the night. It was a tough adjustment because he would spring awake instantly…finally I fined tuned it that I can get out of bed gently and not wake him up…it's a learning process totally!

  • Reply Caroline | Wild Folk Studio March 13, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Mark and I are both horrible sleepers; we're are lucky if we get six hours a night. In the past few weeks there have definitely been several nights of only 3 hours. My mom is convinced it was our pillows, so yesterday she drove of from connecticut with brand new, overpriced pillows that we would have never bought for ourselves.

  • Reply Niamh Roisin March 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Try Dormesan if it's available in the US – it has valerian and hops and other sleeping herbal helps! It smells even worse that the tea, but it's down in one gulp!

  • Reply heather m March 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    This is hilarious.
    My boyfriend and I are planning on moving to New York soon and have been mentally preparing ourselves for the tiniest of tiny apartments. Sleepless nights aren't something I even considered!

    Thanks for the tea tip. That might come in handy very soon.


  • Reply Anna March 13, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    I'm sorry to hear about your insomnia. Maybe this advice from my yoga teacher will be of any help to you. She once explained to us the many advantages of a headstand – it is apparently a magic brilliant trick to cure sleeplessness. Maybe you want to try, next night you lie awake try to do a headstand for about one minute (you can do it against a wall, that is much easier). And then see if you can fall asleep.

    Good luck (and good night:)

  • Reply Niken March 13, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    i feel you about sleepless night. i tend to sleep really really late, but lately it's getting worse. if usually i can sleep before 3, now i before 4.30 i won't be able to go to sleep.

  • Reply Erin March 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    For what it's worth, here's what works for me when I'm having trouble falling asleep: Count backwards from 300 by 3 (297, 294, 291…). Something about it calms my mind and I'm asleep before I finish. Hope it helps you, too!

  • Reply Beth March 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Definitely a problem around here. And noisy neighbors. Actually, it's the noisy neighbors that really keep us from getting the most restful sleep. We recently downloaded the simply noise app on our iphones and desktop, and use that at night if things get too noisy. I'm certain that he wouldn't hear any of that typing (if the tea isn't doing the job) with some white noise playing. It's an idea!

  • Reply The Hedgehog Chronicle March 13, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    love this, i too am quite the sleeper, thats why when i cant sleep i too am stumped as to why. except daniel sleeps like a rock so, despite our tiny apartment, i could never disturb him if i tried!
    ps. valerian is magical

  • Reply Sarah Dee March 13, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    It's the same in small dorms 🙂 I have to get up at 6 or 7 on good days but my guy likes to sleep late. So I am mouselike with my morning routine! Same with his late nights and my early nights 🙂 We have perfected the silent study session!


  • Reply Sharrod Stewart March 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Wow, as I will be in college soon. I can not imagine the dorms being like this. I will definitely attempt to sleep tight. Does your husband snore?

  • Reply Anna March 13, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Thanks for the reading suggestions. I have been having trouble sleeping lately which is definitely not normal for me. I do have a few rooms in my apartment so I could leave my husband in peace, but usually I just lie in bed until eventually sleep comes.

  • Reply Rachel March 13, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Blue light from computers doesn't help with the sleep issues. Try the f.lux app !!

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic March 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    I live in a courtyard building, which means my apartment faces several other apartments. Everyone keeps their blinds closed, except for one jerk who leaves his blinds up and his extremely bright lights on all night. Those lights shine directly into my apartment, which keep me up all night. So one thing I do to fight sleeplessness is wear a sleeping mask over my eyes; somehow, I've been sleeping better as a result. Maybe you could try it too.

    • Reply Erin March 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Uh oh! Isn't it funny how someone who's so close can seem unreachable when it comes to actually contacting them! Sorry to hear about that light!

  • Reply Anonymous March 13, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Where did you get that beautiful blanket?

    • Reply Erin March 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      Brahams Mount! Link in today's post!

  • Reply Kahani March 14, 2013 at 4:33 am

    I live in less than 200 sq ft of space in Hong Kong with my boyfriend. I strongly recommend Audiobooks as an aid to falling asleep! It works so well because you tend to lie still even when awake as your mind's distracted, you can listen in the dark and with earphones it's all quiet. Plus Audible even has a "Sleep" setting so the book trails off in 30 mins or so when you've probably just fallen asleep. Works like magic.

    • Reply Erin March 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      That sounds lovely…

  • Reply Inge March 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Oh, I know what you mean. It's the worst! Whether you're the one unable to sleep or your partner is, it's no fun for both parties. Our couch transforms into our bed and it's our only real living (not working) space, so I really have nowhere to go. Except my studio space, which would make getting sleepy even harder. Luckily, we both usually sleep well, although I know of that racing mind you speak of!

    • Reply Erin March 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Yes. Thankful it doesn't happen to me more often!

  • Reply Socialatte March 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Oh there is nothing worse than not being able to fall asleep at night especially when you are expected to function like a normal human being the next day! I've been there sista. Being stuck between 4 walls with a sleeping person while trying not to wake them up is hard not only out of courtesy but also selfishness hehe.

    Did the valerian root tea help in the end? I usually have a hot malted milk drink(Horlicks)when I can't sleep.

    • Reply Erin March 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Yes! It really does help: despite the unpleasant odors!

  • Reply Chelsey Morphy March 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I am always telling people that my husband can hear my eyelids opening too – so glad I'm not alone. I would love to know if valerian root tea helps. Desperately needing a remedy…

    • Reply Erin March 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Definitely try it…it works for me!

  • Reply Erin March 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    update: We tried out the white noise app that's mentioned in the New Yorker article! Fell asleep to the sounds of rain…*delightful!*

  • Reply crushedredvelvet March 14, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    When I am up on the computer I don't even click the trackpad I tap it softly lol
    I have a friend who used to sleepwalk to the fridge and sleep on the floor in front of it because the humming noise it made attracted him to it in his sleep! so weird but I guess he just needs background noise.

  • Reply April 4, 2013 at 3:17 am

    I love your writing and use of dialogue. Particularly:
    "Are you still awake? Because it sounds like you're awake."

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