THE BLOG

Why Can't Women Sleep? Part V - The Zzz-inducing Joy of Things Gone Wrongly Right

06/08/2009 06:40 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Not sleeping can dent a person's sense of humor.

So I was doubly-delighted to hear from women on the forefront of our collective search for a good night's rest that things-gone-wrong can can lead to a good night's zzzs. Their stories made me smile. And I hope you'll get a little uplift from them, too.

This post begins at the NYC's Kimpton Hotel on Park Avenue. There, General Manager Ericka Nelson, in addition to her professional role, is the loving wife of a snoring husband.

For the first two years of her marriage, she told me during a phone chat, she woke up "about 15 times a night" to ask her log-sawing beloved to roll over. The result, as you could imagine, was that Ericka, like so many of us, had become a woman with a taxing professional career and a less than perfect night-life.

A snoring bed partner is the stuff of countless sitcom scenes. But in real life, it's the sleep-deprived person's version of secondhand smoke. And Ericka Nelso was getting it fifteen times per night.

So far, so bad.

But here is where the smile factor comes in.

Through a bit of research, Ericka in her role as snore-disturbed sleeper, found a pillow that allowed her husband to breathe better at night.

"How did it work for him?" I asked.

She laughed. "The question is, how did it work for me?" Her husband had slept through the night in both cases. But now, thanks to the pillow, she was getting a full night's rest.

A woman who's had a full eight hours of restful sleep isn't just good-humored. She's creative.

The travelers who came to the Kimpton, like so many business travelers, were flying in from different times zones. Their bodies were frazzled. Their minds were full of To-Dos. They were practically auditioning for the role of people suffering from impaired rest in a non-existent musical. "Hotel: Up All Night."

And this is where the bad things inspiring good zzzs part of this story starts. Because Ericka Nelson had a husband who snored, she had discovered an anti-snore pillow. And because she is the kind of person whose passion for her job comes across a phone at 2,000 miles, she started to stock these pillows in her hotel.

That offering grew into a room-service menu of sleep products that - please excused the mixed-metaphor - just might be an insomniac's dream.

Dial room service at The Kimpton (if one is lucky enough to be able to foot a hotel bill in these fraught-with-so-mega-many-why's-n-whatsy economic times - which is the kind of subject that can keep me up worrying all night - and which I shall move on from now, whistling optimistically as if passing a ghost in the dark; tra-la-om...-la?) and you can order up footy pajamas ($80 for adults; $25 for kids), fuzzy slipper-socks ($15) a turkey sandwich ($12) or a Teddy Bear ($25).

You can also borrow an anti-snore pillow, a body pillow, aromatherapy pillow. Not to mention a magnetic pillow said to undo "swelling and discomfort...insomnia and fatigue," an iPod assortment of lullabies and ambient sounds to promote sleep, a nightlight, chocolate-flavored melatonin-and-GABA infused sleep supplements, fans an and eye-mask.

I was going to frame the Kimpton's sleep take-out menu and hang it above my bed like a somnia-inducing talisman. The offerings were so great-sounding. And the little take-out menu was so cute!

But it seemed wiser - or at least more scientific - to test-drive a pillow. The US mail did the work of room-service. And within a few days, I had a snore pillow and several melatonin-sleep supplements to test-drive at the place I decided to call Hotel H.O.M.E. for the duration of my test.

There was just one problem with my experiment: I had forgotten to tell the folks at Kimpton that my current sleep partner - my dog, bb - didn't snore.

Luckily, I had my testers.

My friends, the husband-and-wife life and business team of Dana and Andrea, agreed to give the anti-snore pillow a try.

Dana snored, Andrea told me. And the snoring did keep her up at night.

A few days later, they dropped by to deliver their verdict. The anti-snoring pillow was a failure - and a huge success!

The pillow didn't stop Dana from snoring. But when Andrea borrowed it, she slept like a baby. As it turned out, Dana admitted, while it doesn't keep him at night, the fact is: his beloved wife snores a bit, too. The pillow she'd borrowed "for her husband" had eased her breathing.

So far, so fabulous. Now, for the melatonin-GABA-choco bits. I didn't feel comfortable asking anyone to ingest anything. So I decided to test the sleep supplements myself. Or at least to try to test them.

The truth was, I couldn't get past my assumption that chocolate was something that would keep me up at night.

Ericka at Kimpton had reassured me that the chocolate flavor was minimal and wouldn't up my energies. I took a half of one the first night and slept fine. On night two, I took a whole one and woke up halfway through the night.

The experiment was a bust, I decided.

The truth is, melatonin can be helpful in getting folks to sleep. But falling asleep has never been my problem. But even this "failure" had its upside. The remaining supplements, in their lovely brown wrappings make me smile each night as I'm preparing for bed. I may not be able to order room service - the dog hasn't learned to deliver - but I can tuck the little chocolates under my pillow if I choose, and pretend...

Two more test drives - of a sleep tracking watch and a new take on Brahmari breath - coming up next.