SleepPhones® & the Blind and Visually Impaired
SleepPhones: A Sleep Aid for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Getting a good night's sleep can be difficult for anyone. But for those with visual impairments there can be a whole new set of challenges.
Thankfully, there are some excellent natural methods for alleviating difficulties falling asleep. One such remedy is a unique pair of headphones that can be a solution for a variety of issues that tend to cut shuteye short.
No Side Sleep for the Earbud Lovers
"I came across SleepPhones and I thought I'd give them a shot," remembers Liam Erven, founder of L-Works, a company that creates computer games for the visually impaired. "I really liked them for the reason I could fall asleep on my side. If you try to sleep with earbuds or any other kind of headphones, they dig into your head."
There are multiple solutions to this problem, yet none of them quite make the cut like SleepPhones do. For instance, if you're a side sleeper too, you probably know the pitfalls of a pillow speaker. "My favorite thing [about SleepPhones] is being able to be comfortable and have sound that doesn’t disturb anybody else. The only one that hears it is me," says Liam.
For couples, pillow speakers can be disruptive to the partner who is not using it due to the lack of isolated sound. In addition, this rudimentary sleep aid technology is often uncomfortable, breaks easily, and often lacks proper volume control. "I remember when SleepPhones came out," says Liam. "[AcousticSheep] said 'We're better than pillow speakers!'"
I suppose we made an impact, as Liam has been using SleepPhones for nearly ten years.
A Need for Noise
Due to a rare genetic condition called Norrie disease, Liam has been blind since birth. In his younger years he was fine without noise when going to bed, but after one particular stint in the hospital, he can't sleep in a silent room.
"I was in the hospital for a week in 2007 and I had a really hard time falling asleep in silence. "It's very eerie," Liam says of the lack of natural noise. "Hospital ambience is just hard, I don't want to say traumatic, but it was kind of rough... I mean, you can't pop open a window. So I had no sound, no outside noise."
Whether or not a life event triggered your need for sound while you sleep, it's incredible common to need white noise. In fact, the desire for "something" on in the background is so strong that nearly two-thirds of Americans fall asleep with the TV on, according to a survey by Sleep Review Magazine. Although it not recommended that you fall asleep with electronics glowing and droning on in the background, this statistic illuminates an interesting point. Many people need noise to get a good night's sleep.
SleepPhones can deliver the sound you desire without the distracting flicker of the television.
Well-Rested Couples Are Stronger
It's been proven that relationship satisfaction can improve when couples fall asleep at the same time. While research published in Consumer Health Digest shows a long list of benefits about falling asleep together including, but not limited to increased happiness, reduced stress, improved cardiac function, and higher rates of relationship satisfaction, it's harder than it may sound.
So how can couples work around this predicament? "My girlfriend and I are complete opposites when it comes to sleeping," tells Liam. "She can't have noise, I have to have noise. She's said, 'I'm so happy you got the SleepPhones because I cannot sleep with the TV on.'"
SleepPhones allow both partners to sleep in their preferred manner while still falling asleep together. This in turn ensures that couples start happy and healthy.
While Liam does not suffer from Non-24, sometimes referred to as Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder, Free-running Disorder, Non-entrained Disorder, or Hypernychthemeral Disorder, it does affect an estimated 50-70% of people who are totally blind.
This disorder is a "serious, chronic circadian rhythm disorder that is very common in people who are totally blind, meaning no light perception," as defined by Non-24.com. However, medication may not be the only solution.
Blindness.org found that lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise, and stress management significantly impact the quality and duration of sleep for those who are visually-impaired. This is to say, although it can be difficult, those with blindness and visual impairments should strive to eat healthy, workout regularly, and use mindfulness strategies to de-stress before bed.
AcousticSheep has made dozens of guided relaxation CDs, MP3s, and YouTube playlists that include nature sounds, hypnosis, and white noise. These ambient sounds and spoken words can aid in relaxation before bed. Moreover, to get the most of a daily workout, AcousticSheep also developed RunPhones for added comfort while exercising.
Are SleepPhones Right For You?
"I'm one of those people who is very skeptical of promised results on commercials, I think a lot of it is hooey," says Liam. "But I remember getting SleepPhones and going, 'well, I'll just try them, see how they work." It was years ago that Liam first tried SleepPhones, and he is still using them to this day.
"Another thing I really liked [about SleepPhones] is that the people who made them were just a couple of people, it wasn't a big company, it was just a group of people who wanted to do something good," admits Liam. "The cool thing about AcousticSheep is they listen and they care."
Liam continues, "I love that fact that now, if you have insurance with flexible spending, you can get SleepPhones... I'm so glad people are realizing this is a sleep aid and insurance providers are letting people buy them." Liam is right, simply click here to download our Letter of Medical Necessity Form and bring it to your doctor.