I have no trouble falling asleep when first hitting the sack. However, more often than not, around 2am I wake up and can’t get back to sleep. That’s why most of my blogs are written in the middle of the night.
During the Christmas holidays an ad popped up on my computer promoting the website of TV pop-medicine guru Dr. Oz. On the site there was an article about how to attain a restful night’s sleep using white noise. Listening to something referenced as being noisy when one is trying to fall asleep you may think, as I did, to be a rather wacky idea.
Photo: White Noise App - Ocean Waves
What is white noise? Simply put, it’s a type of noise that’s produced when all the imaginable tones that a human can hear are combined together. Because white noise contains all frequencies, it is often used to mask other sounds. For example, the sound of a fan produces a good approximation of white noise and can be used to block the sound of people talking in a hotel room next to you.
Apparently when a noise wakes you up in the night, it's not the noise itself that wakes you up, but the sudden change or inconsistencies in noise that jar you. White noise creates a masking effect, blocking out those sudden changes that frustrate light sleepers, or people trying to induce sleep.
I figured I’d give Dr. Oz’s sleep therapy a go and downloaded the linked white noise app onto my iPad. The app incorporates 25 different sounds with a link that enables you to download dozens more – everything from storm waves crashing ashore to birds chirping away in the steamy jungles of the Amazon.
Over the years my technique to falling asleep has been to think of something pleasant in my life. A visit to the West Coast of Vancouver Island is one always treasured. Whenever staying overnight in the Tofino area, Pat and I will invariably reserve a waterfront suite at Pacific Sands Resort. At night we’ll sleep with the windows wide open and let the sound of the ocean waves engulf the room. Getting back to sleep in that environment I find almost instantaneous.
Now a downloaded app on my iPad has made it possible to recreate anytime, albeit on a small scale, my West Coast soundscape recollections. All I do is click on a photo of ocean waves in the app, set a volume level and bingo, combined with a little imagination on my part I’m transferred back to Tofino and Cox Bay, minus I admit the smell of beached seaweed. I wonder if there’s an app for that?
Another soundscape I’ve created with the app centers on family camping trips made to Glacier National Park in the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s. During that time we owned a converted Volkswagen Bus, two different pickup campers plus a Winnebago motorhome in which we’d travel every July & August the highways and byways of British Columbia. There was a particular campsite we loved to stay in on Rogers Pass called The Loop. A creek fed by the Illecillewaet Glacier ran through the site.
The sound of the rushing creek water and the throbbing hum of CPR diesel engines entering the nearby Connaught Tunnel is a soundscape that’s been impregnated in my memory for years. With the app there was no problem reproducing a live facsimile. I clicked on photos of babbling brooks and railway train links. The app, which allows up to 5 separate sounds to be mixed simultaneously, instantly produced a soundtrack to accompany my Glacier Park memories. This has resulted in an improved sleep pattern as I allow my mind to reconnect to those happy family trips.
According to the Dr, Oz article, using white noise to kindle sleep isn’t everyone’s cup-of-tea. One’s partner in life may not take pleasure in having the sound of a plummeting waterfall fill the night air. In such cases the use of ears buds is recommended. However, Pat also enjoys the roaring waves.
As a teenager I volunteered to be put to sleep by a touring hypnotist performing a show in Port Alberni. On stage in front of an audience he had me asleep in a matter of minutes. Apparently I was a good subject for such shenanigans. My father, a medical doctor, was not amused when he heard about it, especially when the hypnotist wanted to put me to sleep in a store display window to advertise another show the following evening. I was grounded until the show left town.
Photo above: The first vehicle we used for camping trips was this Volkswagen Bus. I installed a bed, a baby crib and window coverings as the unit was not built by Volkswagen as a camper. We cooked on a Coleman stove set up on a portable table outside the vehicle. I’m dressed in a suit for this photo taken by my wife Pat. We must have been going somewhere special. However, according to her, I was on my way to teach school. Do teachers still suit up for work?
Photo above: A few years later we upgraded to the pickup camper seen here backed up to the boulder-strewn bank of the Illecillewaet River in Glacier National Park.
Photo above: Our most luxurious camping unit was a Winnebago Brave-class motorhome. The picture was taken in 1976 on one of our summer camping trips to the Loop Campsite in Glacier National Park. We bought the unit new in 1971 from a motorhome dealership that had just opened at Granville & Broadway Streets in Vancouver. I recall being very nervous driving the unit through downtown traffic to catch the ferry from Horseshoe Bay. It was the widest vehicle I’d ever driven.
Photo above: The Winnebago Company headquartered in Forest City, Iowa, introduced the Brave series in 1970. They came in 17 and 19-foot lengths. Ours was the 19-foot model. In the summers of 1973 and 1974, I attended UBC to gain my BC teacher’s certification. I lived in the unit parking it at night on a university lot. We kept the vehicle for 10 years and sold it for almost the same price we bought it for - $12,000.