Three Entirely Uncool Things That Have Changed My Life For The Better

1. Earplugs
I have become that awful person: the one who is eye-rollingly fussy about how she sleeps. It started a few years ago when the street outside our old apartment was so unbearably bright that I wore one of those free airplane sleep masks to bed. Hooked, I ordered a special blackout one on the Internet. After that, I started traveling with the mask, using it to fall asleep in places that were already perfectly dark enough; once I forgot it when I was staying in a hotel so I slept with a pair of tights over my face instead. And then a few months ago, a guy on a flight gave me a pair of earplugs when the women behind us wouldn't stop talking and I wore them, on a whim, to bed the next night. And lo, the angels of complete sensory deprivation descended and I got the best night's sleep of my life! I don't know if you've ever worn a sleep mask and earplugs to bed, but both light and sound are so completely obliterated that you sleep as soundly as a kid who's been given a double dose of Benadryl after three straight days at Disneyland. The downside, of course, is that now you're the sort of person who wears earplugs to bed—which is probably slightly at odds with the rock n'roll manner in which you'd like to imagine yourself—but when you can't hear anyone snoring anymore (no husband, no cat), you won't care. 

2. A programmable thermostat
We recently bought a programmable thermostat, and its effect on my happiness has been marked. Gone are the days of walking into your house and waiting an hour for it to warm up enough to take off your coat! Now we set the heat to come on right before we get home from work which means no-one has to peel icicles off anyone else's nose when we walk in the front door. It switches off right before we go to bed, comes on again right before we get up, then switches off right before we leave for work.  As a nice little side bonus, my friends, you do not even know how many "you left the heat on / no, you left the heat on!" arguments you are about to eliminate from your life.  

3. Floss Picks
I know, I know; does the sexiness know no bounds? First earplugs and now floss picks? Am I going to start selling you on colostomy bags next or what? Here, have some wart removal cream while we're at it! For real, though, this crazy invention called the floss pick has pretty much changed my life. Correction: it's changed my dentist's life, because now he doesn't have to ask me if I've been flossing anymore, and I don't have to lie and say that I have, and he doesn't have to smile and pretend he believes me when it's obvious that I'm full of plaque (see what I did there? It almost rhymes with crap! Dentistry joke!) A floss pick (which is basically a hook you put in your mouth with a handle and a bit of wire on it; I'm going to let you google that one on your own) makes flossing almost—yeah, I'm going to go there—fun. I am actually having fun flossing my teeth. This clearly means I need to get out more, yes, but I urge you to try it all the same. 

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Brittany E.
Mar 19, 2012

I've been thinking about getting an eye mask because I'm a bit of an insomniac and end up going to bed only to have the sunlight wake me up way too early the night the morning after! But I don't know if I could deal with the earplugs, I'm so irrationally scared of having someone break into my house! I want to hear them coming so I can be in attack mode! Although my attack mode is seriously unimpressive!

Postcards from California

Mar 19, 2012

ahahaha, this killed me! love your writing style, and definitely made me a bit jealous to read about your thermostat. used to have one in the old apartment, but now im back to the whole putting the heater on after work and realizing it only got warm when we going to bed

Mar 20, 2012

oh man. use Dr. Tung's Smart Floss that I get at Whole Foods. You still have to do the wind-around-your-finger thing and get more messy than the pick style, but its fun in its SUPER effective way. Its like the pleasure of knowing you're deep cleaning and you want to go for it. I used to be an every once in a while flosser and now I'm addicted. It expands a bit like those chinese finger things and really scrubs.

I'm a night shift nurse and sleep during the daytime. When I forget to put in my earbuds or wear my eye mask, I'm a mess! it makes such a difference and my boyfriend gets yelled at less (and I curse the leaf-blower, car horns less too :)

Mar 20, 2012

Oh man, I'm so glad someone else does the earplug thing too. Yes, I sleep largely by myself, and no I'm not in an overly audible location. For some reason, falling asleep with only a heartbeat for distraction gives the best slepp ... evah!

Mar 20, 2012

I don't think ear plugs are necessarily uncool or anti-rock and roll. I'm sure many a girl has lunged after a used ear plug falling off a stage while her favorite band plays. I mean, if Evan Dando wore earplugs at one of his shows and it fell out and landed right by your foot, you would probably think about grabbing it, even if you came to your senses before actually fondling a musician's earwax.

Pretend I didn't write that thing about fondling earwax. Gross.

Anyway, you can always pretend you're Holly Golightly when you put on all of your sleep accessories and fall asleep celebrating your good sense and glamour.

Mar 20, 2012

I also sleep with both earplugs and an eyemask! I started a couple years ago when the neighbors upstairs were loud at random hours, and a bright light on my building shined in my window. Now that I'm married, live in a house, and have room-darkening shades, I still use the earplugs to block out my husbands heavy breathing (okay, the occasional snoring) and any light whatsoever that comes from even a computer, alarm clock, etc. Now I want to get a Temperpedic mattress to complete my bedtime sensory deprivation! :-)

Pretzel Thief
Mar 20, 2012

You go on wit yo baaaad self!


Okay, jesting aside, I really need to floss. I NEVER floss. Yup, that's right. I'm a No Flossin' Nincompoop! Or something. Pah!

(The programmable thermostat sounds pretty freakin' fabulous!)

Mar 20, 2012

I am a person that requires a fan to sleep. A loud, LOUD, cancel out every other noise fan. Of course I can't travel with that so I have the Ambience app on my iPhone and I have been known to sleep with my headphones in and the white noise cranking through there.

Mar 20, 2012

I want to try earplugs but I'm not sure how it'd work with an alarm clock the next morning! Do you have any tips for that?

Mar 20, 2012

Something that changed me life: noise-canceling earbuds. I use them all the time at work, sometimes to listen to music but mostly to drown out other noises. I use them on my commute, again mostly to drown out public-transportation noises. They're magical on planes, trains, walking down a city street, etc. They don't completely drown out noise (so I'm not in any real danger of stepping into traffic without hearing it), but they do nicely muffle sounds I don't need to hear at full volume.

Anna Louisa
Mar 20, 2012

I love this! Eye masks always make me think of Breakfast at Tiffany's...which is definitely a good thing :)

Mar 20, 2012

Earplugs save my life. My boyfriend snores SO LOUD; I could never sleep without them. I buy the 500 pack from Amazon.

Jan Ross
Mar 20, 2012

To the commenter above who sleeps with a fan - my husband and I also sleep with a fan. And we travel with one as well! It's a bit of a pain especially when you short one out in Ireland and then have to try to find a new fan in the middle of November in Ireland but it's so worth it. We just take a small fan in our carry-on. We found one called a "Vornado" at Target and it works great. We put it in the carry-on with the camera case and they both fit nicely. The things we do to sleep well!!

Mar 20, 2012

If you like floss picks, let me recommend the Reach Flosser! I have tight contacts between my teeth, so forcing normal floss between them turns my fingers blue. The flosser is like a floss pick on a toothbrush handle, rotated for LEVERAGE. Unlike the floss picks, you don't have to stuff your entire hand in your mouth, and with a longer-than-2-inch handle, you can actually reach your molars.

These things are widely available (I've seen them in drugstores, grocery stores, Target, etc.). I've been using them for 5 years or so...sometimes they randomly go out of stock, but they've always come back.

Random picture that shows both the handle and the floss heads:

Mar 20, 2012

Holly, I do wish you wrote more about yourself and less about *things*. Your blog is getting a little dull.

Chris C.
Mar 20, 2012

Personally, I like the dinosaur shaped floss picks. Who cares if they're for kids. I think EVERYONE'S flossing experience can be improved by reenacting Jurassic Park with floss picks on a nightly basis :-) (Also, my teeth are really tight together, and the kids' picks have finer floss in them)

Nothing But Bonfires
Mar 20, 2012

Wow, Kate, tell me how you REALLY feel!

Seriously, thank you for your feedback (if not for the rather indelicate way you phrased it). I'm all for constructive criticism and even though my blog is pretty much just a fun creative outlet for me, I want to write things my readers like. Have to say, I'm not quite sure I understand your complaint, though, because I DO write about myself in pretty much every entry. Last week, for example, I wrote two posts that were about nothing BUT me (and my many feeeeeelings on things!) Am not sure how much more "about myself" I could have got than that?!

As for writing about "things," my blog is about nothing more than my life. With the exception of a few pretty rare sponsored posts (I did three in 2011, all of which I chose very carefully and which were clearly marked) the only "things" I write about are things in my life: what I'm using, enjoying, thinking about, and so on. Which---to my mind, anyway---falls squarely under the umbrella of being "about me."

Mar 20, 2012

Definitely with you on the ear plugs, but don't use an eye mask, as the light doesn't bother me so much. The noisy neighbour downstairs and his 6am kitchen pottering does! I do worry I will sleep through a fire or burglary one day though! Seriously, am dead to the world!

Sorry to be all surprised, but I thought EVERYONE had a timer on their thermostat?! Is that just a UK thing? Even my really old boiler had one! I guess maybe just with gas heating?

Amanda Blog and Kiss
Mar 20, 2012

Might be a silly question- but with all light and sound blocked out so thoroughly, is it not hard to hear the alarm to wake up?

Recent horrible sleeper here, so enquiring minds desperately want to know....

Mar 20, 2012

I need to try the eye-mask thing. Like you I once lived in an apartment on a very loud street and I took to putting my pillow over my head. I have also slept with a shirt/blanket/stuffed animal on my head when an extra pillow isn't available. It just feels comforting to have something over your eyes!

Nothing But Bonfires
Mar 20, 2012

Amanda and Katie: I've never had a problem with not waking up to the alarm. (Then again, I'm a pretty light sleeper, so I guess it might depend.) The earplugs don't block everything out completely, they just sort of muffle it; I just use the alarm on my phone and I can hear it pretty clearly at 6:50am, believe me!

Mar 20, 2012

I feel your pain with the unsexiness of sleeping. I wear a mouth guard for my TMJ and have recently started (Occasionally) wearing Breathe Right nasal strips because of my allergies. SO sexy I can't stand it.

Mar 20, 2012

Can we vote #15 Kate off the island? No offense, #15 Kate. But seriously, what we (I am speaking for the entire blogosphere) love about Holly is the mixture of thoughtful, touching posts about family and memories and serious business combined with a healthy smattering of Best. Things. Ever!

Katie in CA
Mar 20, 2012

I'll go one better on the thermostat. We have a wireless thermostat that is connected to the internet. So NOW when we are a bit too warm/cold at the regular setting, we can change the tempatrue without having to get up. My hubby wears ear plugs and he can't sleep with out them. havent tried the mask yet, but I like a bit of light when I'm sleeping. Instead of a night light, I use the gentle glow of charging electronics!

Amber G
Mar 20, 2012

I'm with ya on the eyemask! Let there be NO LIGHT! I sleep best in complete darkness. I'll have to check out the tooth pick things. And as for the thermostat, older buildings do have older heat. Glad you got that one sorted.

Roxanna (miguelina)
Mar 20, 2012

I'm confused by the request to write "more about yourself and less about *things*" -- I think this post tells us so much about Holly.

Like that Holly and I are sisters in creeping old lady-hood, and that we are unapologetic about it. (I love my eye mask! And my nightly bath!)

And Holly, I'm now curious about the flossing sticks my kids get in their dentist goodie bags, and I may just "borrow" one from them tonight. Shhhh....

Roxanna (miguelina)
Mar 20, 2012

I'm confused by the request to write "more about yourself and less about *things*" -- I think this post tells us so much about Holly. Like that Holly and I are sisters in creeping old lady-hood, and that we are unapologetic about it. (I love my eye mask! And my nightly bath!)

And Holly, I'm now curious about the flossing sticks my kids get in their dentist goodie bags, and I may just "borrow" one from them tonight. Shhhh....

Mar 20, 2012

I just used my free hearos earplugs the other night when my 10 year old was jabbering to himself way past bedtime in his room and keeping me awake. It was fantastic. It was the weekend, so I wasn't worried about the alarm clock, but at some point, I pulled them out and don't remember it, so it seems that it worked out OK.

I tried a sleeping mask (for when the bf is in town - he is a bed-TV watcher -- ACK), but couldn't really get into that.

I also have a programmable thermostat, but can't figure out how to set it. Luckily the previous owners and I have a similar schedule, so that, too, works out OK.

Mar 20, 2012

i have to wear earplugs because of my husband but i dont like it! but i do remember the first time i did it and i totally had that knocked out benadryl feeling sleep that was out of this world :)

Mar 20, 2012

Um, Kate, commenter #15, you're rude. I'm not sure how much more personal one can get than flossing and earplugs.

Holly, I looove earplugs. I am constantly trying to sell people on them. I don't usually sleep in them, unless we are out of town, but I will totally wear them just about anywhere. It completely changes the Walmart experience... as in it becomes tolerable! No screaming children!

Compare your excitement to the tire you got for your birthday to an industrial sized box of individually wrapped pairs. Sometimes it's the little things.


Mar 20, 2012

I sleep with an eye mask, a fan blowing (for the husband) and earbuds playing classical piano music. love it.
as for flossing...perhaps you're on to something with the picks. i cannot be bothered to do the regular flossing with all that tedious finger wrapping. ;)

(Not the) Kate (Above)
Mar 20, 2012

I've slept with something over my eyes ever since I was little- first it was an old flannel shirt that was falling apart, now I just use the sleeve of whatever shirt I was wearing before bed. Eye masks feel too confining/tight to me, but I can't fall asleep without my eyes covered. And I'm definitely going to buy some earplugs now. I've been worried that I wouldn't be able to hear my alarm clock, but I suppose I should go ahead and try them instead of just fretting about it! :)

Mar 20, 2012

I can never get earplugs to stay in my ears. I would love to not hear snoring. Except for the part where I have become addicted to having white noise (a fan) on when I sleep. Which of course only started as a way to try and drown out the snoring.

And I can do you one better on the floss picks. I use a humming bird. It's basically a battery powered floss pick. Because who can be bothered with putting the energy into flossing when I can just let the hummingbird do it for me? It really is the best thing ever.

Mar 20, 2012

Right, I'll be needing a link to that block out face mask you refer to please. I've been sleeping with an airplane mask and sexy-as-anything neon green earplugs for a while now. And I'll never change. I classed myself as an insomniac - now, I sleep just fine, all the time.

Nothing But Bonfires
Mar 20, 2012

Kate, I've gone through two of these (kept leaving them on planes): And now I'm using this one, which is very cushy and comfortable (I think I like it better):

Mar 20, 2012

Yes! I use the sleep mask you recommended some time ago and I use the soft wax earplugs, which may sound gross but they're very comfy. To accessorize, I place an attractive, clear breathe right strip across my nose. My husband uttered a strangled scream the first time he saw the whole getup. I'm choosing to call it the "strangled scream of desire."
Also, yes on the floss picks, the second greatest invention since post-its.

Mar 21, 2012

Um... Holly? If you're sleeping with earplugs in and an eyemask on, how will you know when the druglord that mistakenly thinks you owe him money finds your house at 3AM and comes to get you?

Mar 21, 2012

This post was a quirky, funny, unique insight into you. I thought complainer was surely teasing. ??? Yeah, I do earplugs too when husband is home. I found some small hot pink ones that make me especially happy and can be shoved really deep into the ear canal. However after the show in Birmingham my ears were ringing so bad the noise in my head was LOUDER with earplugs in than out. Yikes! THAT kept me awake wondering if this was the new normal. I took them to the next concert I went to, but couldn't bear to not hear the words of who I went to listen to!

Mar 21, 2012

Right on earplug lovers! I hate to sleep without them - but do occasionally feel guilty for cutting off all possibility drifting-off-to-sleep-romantic-chit-chat .... add my mouth-guard into the mix and you have one sexy lady!

Mar 21, 2012

I have slept with earplugs in every night since freshman year of college. Not sexy, REALLY limits pillow talk, but man do I sleep much more soundly. I used to share a room with my sister and I would wake her up if she was BREATHING too loud. My mom gets on my case... she says I will have to stop before I have kids..

Mar 21, 2012

I'm a shift worker and become OBSESSED with getting enough sleep but I'm never game enough to try the earplugs in case I miss the alarm - I just don't trust myself to hear it!
And for the record ... keep writing whatever you want. I like the fact that you have random posts - that's what makes your blog interesting to me.

Mar 22, 2012

I hear you with the earplugs. I used them while traveling two years ago (after not using them for several weeks, convinced they wouldn't work for me; literally losing hours of sleep every night) and was converted on the spot. I then couldn't sleep without earplugs or my eye mask for the next six months.

I've since ditched the earplugs, but am definitely tempted to snag a pair from time to time. The eye mask is a must. Since when am I such a fussy sleeper??

Mar 22, 2012

Hilarious post! Here's the height of uncool: wearing earplugs AND a mouthguard. Fortunately, I discovered those black out curtains before getting hooked on an eye mask too. I personally favour Hearos because they don't put as much pressure on my child-sized ear canals...

Margie K
Mar 22, 2012

LOVE floss picks! I have a small mouth (so not much room to get fingers inside for flossing), hate pinching my fingers with floss wrapped around them, and several teeth are difficult to get floss between, so the picks are great! They're also good at accidentally popping off a temporary crown, but once I learned that (and went back to the dentist to get it re-seated), I was fine.

I've never tried earplugs or a mask for sleeping, mostly because both my husband and I like to fall asleep to the TV (we set the TV timer -- aka "sleep setting" -- so it doesn't run all night). I *do* find when the moon is full that moonlight can be distracting (particularly if I awaken in the middle of the night), but simply shutting the blinds is generally sufficient.

Mar 23, 2012

I cannot go to bed without a sleep mask and earplugs! The only way to get real rest these days. I wonder just how many people are in this club?

Mar 25, 2012

Hey holly- I love it when you write about things AND yourself! I've discovered neat things like Birchbox and Clarisonic through you so I like your recommendations. I think you're a great writer no matter what you write about and having a blog is being able to write about whatever the fuck you want! Keep it up! Xo

Mar 26, 2012

The other day, I went on and ON to my husband about the BEST INVENTION EVER. How I didn't understand how something so simple was yet so amazing. What was I talking about? The floss pick. No more wrapping floss around your fingers and cutting off the circulation. It's easy, and quite frankly, it makes flossing downright addictive.

I also am earplug dependent. It started as an alternative to divorce, because of my husband's snoring. But it's gone beyond just blocking out the snore. There is also this sort of introspective effect. I can hear my heart beating, and my blood whooshing. It's really very meditative, and even without snoring in the room, I need my earplugs. I'm not sure it's good for my ears, though . . .

Camels & Chocolate
Mar 26, 2012

Funny, I have recently adopted #1 and 2, as well! Life-changing.

Mar 26, 2012

I particularly love the idea of a programmable thermostat.

I also particularly love the fact that about 1/4 of commenters on this post are named Kate and probably also doing their best to disassociate themselves with Kate #15.

The truth is that you could talk about earplugs and flossing for five posts straight and we'd all be entertained and come back for more. XO

Savvy in San Francisco
Mar 26, 2012

I started using earplugs when there was construction going on by my house over 17 years ago and am COMPLETELY addicted! I blame my Mom who was the enabler and gave me a pair. Literally can't go to sleep if I don't have them in! Definitely not sexy, but necessary! Glad to report to you that you can keep wearing them after having babies. I have had three and never stopped wearing the earplugs...still can hear them just fine.

Mar 28, 2012

Ok, I am right there with you on the uncool scale. I am obsessed with earplugs! I have always been a very light sleeper, but first started using them when I lived on a very busy corner in NYC, right above a bus stop. Even after moving out of the city and to a place where the only sound I hear at night is crickets I still use them from time to time and get the best sleep ever with them!

Apr 11, 2012

I too used earplugs for about 4 years!! What was any every now and again, turned into something regular. Well I can tell you now that earplugs didn't change my life for the better because my ex thought it was the strangest thing and couldn't get over how weird it was and I also got TMJ from it(clicking of the jaw)but the worst thing was that I use to be a thrillseeker at amusement parks and since earplugs move those tiny bones in your ears that mess up your equillibrium(and yoru jaw), those wonderful things ruined my chances of ever going on a rollercoaster or parasailing ever again. I cannot do it! It sucks because I use to love it but now I get so sick from it I can't even go on one without the consequences of being sick the rest of the day. :(

But if your not a thrill seeker and you don't care what your current partner thinks of you, than go for it! I would have totally kept wearing them but since it started hurting my ears, I just stopped wearing them altogether.

May 31, 2012

I just happened upon your blog as I am laying in bed drifting off and I dang near spit out my mouth guard from laughing. My boyfriend has deemed me the most unsexy sleeper in history. Not only do I currently have in my mouth guard but also my yellow and hot pink ear plugs and padded eye mask, I like to think of my self as a professional sleeper; )

And to those wondering, set an alarm on your phone and put it on vibrate under your pillow!

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