When I was a wee lad (translated, this would mean about 30 years younger), I was never one to crank up my stereo (now kids use Ipods and buds so we really don’t know how much volume they need or use) to find out if certain songs/albums at certain volumes created some special synapse that would forever make me better than others. I mostly avoided those teenage vices and a few others as well. But, in the spirit of avoiding the whole, “I don’t like that.” response when asked to do or go somewhere, I eventually yielded and went to a rock concert. (I went to a few including Rush a couple times and a mix of others as well.) This first real concert was at the Ohio Center in Columbus, Ohio. Nazareth was the opening act and Billy Squier was the headliner. Yes, this is where the ear plugs enter into the picture…..I popped my ear plugs in before things got going. I had heard enough people say how their heads rang and how they couldn’t hear so well for a while. They weren’t stylish ear plugs, but they did the job. (I am quite sure they were less obvious then ear phones worn to keep out noise while mowing the lawn, but I did not have the luxury or desire to criticize the discreteness of the plugs while at the show.) Possibly, it was this effort in my youth that has caused my need for ear plugs in the present.
Now that I am a few years older, ear plugs have a different purpose–making sleep easier. (The exception is the Rush concert I went to recently with my oldest son. I had fluorescent green ear plugs and didn’t care what anyone thought. Cool was not even a consideration. I wanted it to be obvious I was NOT trying to be cool.) I have used them occasionally for sleeping in the past. Over the last couple years, they have become indispensable. Why do I need them for sleeping? Here are my two theories:
- Active Brain: I am sure this is a part of old age. I used to be able to lay down and sleep without too much consideration. With adulthood and the possible paranoia that accompanies age(maybe not really paranoia—protective instinct?), night time noises are a springboard for my brain. Some noises are understandable–the family room is on the same floor as our bedroom. If the teenage sons choose to watch TV/Netflix late, the ear plugs help to dull the noise. When it is not the TV, it is a creak in the house OR a dog or police car outside OR rain splattering all over the place. My brain just doesn’t want to let go of wakefulness without having the noise reduced to almost nothing. As witnessed today, the disadvantage to wearing ear plugs is sometimes the wake-up alarm does not clear the necessary noise threshold to be effective.
- Roommate: Strictly speaking, I have no idea if my wife snores. By wearing ear plugs, I don’t have to deal with this reality. It allows her to keep her secret. Since my wife doesn’t wear ear plugs, I do sometimes get reports in the morning regarding my own snoring habits. Since it is more manly to snore, I am okay with that.