Nothing gets in the way of a good book quite like worrying about another person’s REM cycle. In my old life, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d turn on the bedside lamp while holding a pillow in front of it, slowly moving the pillow away in the hope that the gradual brightening of the room wouldn’t wake my husband.
I’ve tried reading on a Kindle, and on an iPad, but the habit has never stuck. (I prefer an inexpensive object I can treat like crap — recklessly dog-ear pages in half, write phone numbers in the margins, etc.) The slow-burn room-brightening method seldom worked though; he’d almost always wake up. And so I invested in a headlamp. I don’t know how the idea came to me, but it did, and thank goodness.
Now, in my new life, I just stretch the device’s elastic straps around my skull and flick on the battery-powered LED light, which is tiny and tightly focused. The lamp itself is embedded in a chunk of concave plastic that sits comfortably against the curve of my forehead, and straps are stretchy, soft, and buckle-free so they never get caught in my hair. My method is to roll over on my side, and aim at whatever page I’m currently on.
The bedroom stays pitch black. I’ve never woken a soul while wearing the headlamp, promise. It’s utilitarian and actually sort of fun — I get to feel like a midnight miner! I’ll even keep it on if I have to make my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or to the kitchen for a glass of water. And I always bring my headlamp on overnight flights to avoid being that nuisance brightening an otherwise-darkened plane. Sometimes, at the witching hour, I’ll catch a reflection of myself in the mirror, accessorized with a headlamp, glasses, and retainer, and it’s like coming face-to-face with a geeky ghost.
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