SensaCalm Weighted Blankets

When I was approached by my friend, Donna, to consider reviewing the weighted blankets she sells, I readily agreed. I’m not the habit of reviewing products or services on this site, but what she didn’t realize is that I have a 14 year old who really struggles to fall and stay asleep. He has a busy brain and will lay awake at night trying to quiet his thoughts. Even when he manages to fall asleep quickly, he often wakes up during the night and struggles to fall asleep all over again.

Granted, there are a lot of reasons this happens and there are many ways to treat it. Short of giving him sleep medication every night, I’ve tried a lot of things! Yet, I never considered a weighted blanket. Prior to researching SensaCalm, my knowledge of weighted blankets was that they were for kids with autism and/or ADHD who struggle with sleep. It didn’t occur to me that general insomnia and restlessness might be mitigated with a weighted blanket.

Similar to being swaddled like an infant, weighted blankets are said to trigger pressure points in the body and release serotonin, which has a calming effect. For those who wrestle with anxiety and have disrupted sleep as a result, I can see the benefits to using a weighted blanket at night.

When the blankets arrived the boys were immediately excited. They were heavier than I expected, but as soon as I’d unpacked them and laid them across Jeremy and Jackson’s bodies, they were giddy. They said it felt as if they were being hugged. They actually couldn’t wait to go to bed that night to see what it felt like to sleep under their new blankets.

The first night was a challenge! It took some getting used to, particularly since the blanket is not over-sized. They aren’t meant to cover the size of the bed but rather cover the size of your body. A couple of times their blankets fell to the ground, so they had to pull them back up and readjust.

However, that was the only hurdle. After a month of use, both boys say they are falling asleep more quickly and staying asleep more easily. They love feeling “hugged” by their blankets.

The twin-size, 13-pound blankets are made up of a grid of pockets with pellets inside as weight. Covering the blanket is a soft “cuddle” fleece that adds even more warmth and comfort.

The duvet is held in place by strategically-placed snaps. That’s handy for washing!

Ultimately the blankets are a success! And while the traditional weighted blankets aren’t travel-friendly, small lap-size blankets might do the trick.

Insomnia and Manitowoc County

In 2011, I went through three months of the worst insomnia of my life. It would take hours to fall asleep, and then when I fell asleep, I’d jolt awake in twenty minutes only to start the process all over again. Ambien was my remedy of choice, and while it took care of the sleep, it led to strange behavior and memory distortion, two characteristics that do not complement parenting, homeschooling, or any level of adulting.

The insomnia waned in 2012 and by 2013 I was sleeping mostly well, or as well as a high-strung mother can sleep. I acquired a prescription for Lunesta in 2015 – a sleeping aid that doesn’t lead to strange behavior and memory distortion, but also one that doesn’t work as well as Ambien. I took it occasionally throughout the year.

I started sleeping poorly in November and used the rest of my Lunesta prescription in December (though our Hilton Head trip was lovely, I didn’t sleep well, nor did I sleep much in Montreat). Now it’s January 8 and after binge-watching Making a Murderer on Netflix and getting no sleep on a Lunesta pill, I fear I’m inching back to where I was in 2011.

104 percent tired

My to-do list is quite heavy – three big batches of photos to edit, freelance work due immediately, 18 millions loads of laundry to fold – and I’m here staring at the wall fantasizing about a nap. A good, long, warm nap with no children knocking at the bedroom door asking to play XBox.

Are y’all watching Making a Murderer? DUDE. People are sketchy. I told Chuck last night that if ever we get to a Packers game at Lambeau, we will absolutely NOT drive through Manitowoc County, and he was all, “Heck yes we will!”

Happy Weekend, friends. I hope you all get good sleep and that you aren’t wrongly accused, arrested, and imprisoned for a crime you didn’t commit (unless there’s DNA evidence, but even that could be questionable). Be good.


Headaches, bathroom breaks, and reading for pleasure

I would love to tell you this weekend was positively perfect since I finished my genre paper a day early and therefore started my week-long school break Friday afternoon, but I am going on Day 3 of a headache and I quite literally want to punch myself in the face, just to see if that will help it go away.

Also, Chuck fought a stomach bug nearly all of Saturday and most of Sunday, so that wasn’t particularly pleasant either. We took his father to Tupelo Honey Cafe last night for a birthday dinner (Happy Birthday, Bill!) and Chuck wasn’t able to enjoy the food like usual for fear that the bug would resurface.

To top it off, my insomnia came back to visit me Saturday night. It was like the insomnia of 2011 when I’d lay away for four hours, doze for 20 minutes, then lay awake until giving up on sleep altogether.

The weird part is that I wasn’t even fretting Saturday night. I genuinely have no imminent worries that keep me in limbo or in a state of potential catastrophe. Life, in general, is good. But my brain refuses to shut off because it prefers to think about what might happen on Season 5 of Downton Abbey, what clothes I should donate to Goodwill, and whether or not I’ll ever lose ten pounds. Stupid nonsense nothingness that should not keep a person awake at night.

See, I stopped taking Ambien in May. My prescription ran out and I thought it would be good to wean myself off the drug and save whatever memory I have left. (Have you taken ? Has it wrecked your memory or made you do weird stuff?) I’ve been sleeping mostly well all summer, taking the occasional Melatonin or Advil PM if I wanted to ensure myself a few good hours of shut-eye.

But Saturday night scares me. Insomnia is no good. It wrecks my mood and mental capacity, and with another semester starting next Monday, I’m not willing to risk it.

BeautifulRuins_small-330The only good that came out of not sleeping is that I finished Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. That’s right. I read for pleasure. It didn’t matter that I was reading for pleasure at three in the morning. It wasn’t theory or philosophical drivel or some book I had to read for class. It was a thoughtful, well-crafted story of a wishful love affair between a young Italian man and an almost-movie star. Jess Walter takes you from the coast of Italy in 1962 to present day Hollywood through a series of mistakes, lies, and starry-eyed daydreams. His writing is impeccable.

It’s a book I wish I’d purchased instead of borrowed from the library.

Yesterday I started The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes, and after that, it’s likely I’ll finally get to The Signature of All Things by Liz Gilbert. However, if I don’t get to that it’s because I’ll be full swing into my novel again.

Y’all, my stomach is all jittery just thinking about it.


“You may not remember you did anything…”

Insomnia is slow torture and, since I have reoccurring bouts of it, I started taking Ambien last year to help me sleep. On the rare occasion, I’ve skipped the pill and tried to sleep on my own, but so far that’s not worked out to my benefit.

So I carry on with the memory erasing pill because without sleep I’m a bear. Chuck picked up my prescription the other day and for the first time I read the medication guide. So hilarious and TRUE. While I don’t get out of bed and drive to Walmart in the middle of the night, I’ve most certainly done things post-pill that I don’t remember, and looking through my late-night internet searches can confirm that. Examples include images older men with excessive chest hair and the practice of witchcraft in modern times.

Just so you know, I do not have an attraction to older men with excessive chest hair nor am I a practicing witch. And I have since learned to put down the iPad each night after taking my sleeping pill, lest I purchase a paddle boat online or start FaceTiming new friends in Finland.

Busy as Bees

With all of our recent travel, family responsibilities, and work, we haven’t happened upon a day where we just. sit. still. It’s just as well because I don’t do very well with still. I become very bored with still, even though still sounds so lovely. Bravo to all of you who know how to pull off still.

Yesterday we brought home a new mattress, which no doubt sounds very unexciting but I was THRILLED. The last time I remember sleeping on a new mattress was when Mom and Dad bought bunk beds for Becky and me in the mid-80s. Since then it’s been hand-me-downs from relatives, which is why Chuck can barely bend over to put his shoes on each morning. With his back screaming at him and my insomnia making a regular appearance, we decided to amend these issues with a new mattress.

He slept fine last night. I laid awake until 1 a.m., dozed for a while, woke at 3:30 when Jackson had a nightmare, and dozed again until 6 a.m. However, I choose to look on the bright side. At the very least, I was quite comfortable while I laid there willing myself to fall asleep.

Yesterday I received in the mail a proof of the book, so I’ll spend the next few days thumbing through it to find glaring errors. It’s too late for major changes now since 50 copies have already been printed for an event the author is attending next week, but perhaps I’ll find something incredibly wrong and fixable before the next batch is made. I have to say, it was really nice to see the [mostly] completed project sitting on my kitchen counter. It was especially nice to see my name on it.



Insomnia, You’ve Done It Again

What’s more fun than laying awake in bed for two hours trying to fall asleep? How about waking up at 1 a.m. and laying awake for two hours trying to fall BACK to sleep? Yeah. That’s SUPER FUN.

That’s right, my faithful foe Insomnia has set up residence again in my bedroom. Of all the things I inherited from the Treadway side of the family, including my stubbornness, this is the one thing I could do without. (Sorry Dad, Gloria, and Mamaw.) It’s 8:15 p.m. and all I want to do is go to bed. It’s been days since I’ve had a good night’s rest, even with all of these wonderful trees around me. Instead, I read and pin creative things to my Pinterest board.

Creative things like this:

Sweet dreams to all of you non-insomniacs. Dad, Gloria and Mamaw, I’ll be thinking of you at 3 a.m.

Insomnia, My Old Friend

My old pal Insomnia has returned in full force. After giving me a few months reprieve from nighttime restlessness, he’s come back to my bed to taunt and haunt me.

Sunday night was the worst. After a week of little sleep, I deliberately kept the evening quiet and dimly lit. I read for a while and was in bed by 10:30 p.m. By 12:30 a.m., after two hours of tossing, I gave up, flipped on the light and continued to read until 2 a.m. As a result, I was a horrible monster yesterday trying to function on 4.5 hours of sleep.

Sidebar: Chuck insisted I try a book by one of his favorite authors, Chuck Palahnuik (author of Fight Club). Since he humored me four years ago by finally reading the entire Harry Potter series, I agreed to try Survivor.  Let me just say this – If you’ve seen the movie “Fight Club,” then you probably have a good idea of how twisted a mind has to be to come up with such a bizarre story. Though “bizarre” is not my genre, Palahnuik is an imaginative writer and does well to stretch a reader’s brain. His writing dark, mordent and satirical. I found myself thinking about the story long after I’d go to bed, which naturally didn’t help the going-to-sleep process. I’ve since moved on to Eric Weiner’s Geography of Bliss.

But back to insomnia.

Last night, I tried to be even more quiet and calm. No TV, no computer. Only a long bath followed by reading. I took a melatonin pill at 8:30 p.m. and flipped off the light by 9 a.m. Though I fell asleep quickly, I was awake every three hours and woke up ten minutes before the alarm went off. I HATE when that happens. Grouch.

Right now, all I want to do is lay my head down on the keyboard and sleep.

But I shan’t. Instead I will do the usual: treadmill, book design, packing, feeding kids, book design, packing, bathing kids, book design, put kids to bed, book design, reading, attempt to sleep. Repeat, repeat, repeat. With much to do before we move, there is little time to rest.