VA releases new “Sleep Sounds” app to fight veteran insomnia

Sgt. Ryan Blount, 27th Brigade, New York Army National Guard, rests in a hallway after a full day of field training, before heading back out Jan. 16, 2015, at Alexandria International Airport, La. The exercise was an eight-day combined military training event designed to prepare Airmen and soldiers to respond to worldwide crises and contingencies. People can lessen the effects of sleep deprivation during long operations by taking precautions such as allowing Soldiers seven to nine hours of sleep regularly for five to seven days before the mission and allowing Soldiers to sleep who are not mission essential at the moment, according to Col. Vincent Mysliwiec, a sleep medicine specialist with 121st Combat Support Hospital, Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital in Yongsan, South Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cliffton Dolezal)

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that they would release a new white noise app to help veterans with insomnia go back to the last place they felt safe, secure, and ready to drift into four hours of fitful sleep.

“We found that when these service members were serving, they could sleep anywhere,” said Dr. Stacey Clarke, VA’s Chief Sleep Scientist. “They could sleep on a rucksack, in the back of a Humvee, or on top of a stranger when they drunkenly stumbled into the wrong barracks room. Then they get to the VA and ‘can’t sleep.’ This app is an important step to self care.”

The app begins with tracks that encourage a meditative state of pretending you don’t hear anything, like track 1 “ass-chewing in the distance,” track 3 “volunteers for cigarette butt police call,” and track 7 “roommate beating of two feet away from you.” As you wade further into sleep, the app automatically drifts into tracks that make the service member feel as though the sleep will last forever, like the 45-minute track “continuously piggy-backed operations and intelligence briefing.”

Though the app is intended for sleeping, many veterans have found low-level distracting noise makes gives their mundane, post-service life the special ambiance they missed from their service.

“I work in a cubicle now,” said former Spec. Jeff Cramer, “I thought updating excel spreadsheets was boring. But once I started playing tracks 18 ‘squelch/hot mic-ing,’ 22 ‘talking guns’ and 37 ‘boots asking dumb questions,’ it made my job seem so much more interesting. I understand how staff officers get hooked on it.”

For those looking for a longer loop, the app includes the realistic “constant tinnitus,” the joyful “Iraqi children begging you for chocolate,” and the soothing, zen-like “bored rock throwing.”

The app will soon have a version that can override the phone’s volume settings, intended for artillerymen.

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BlondesOverBaghdad always lets someone else have the top block, because that's the selfless service thing to do. She'll go to Ranger School as soon as there's a 2-beer per day policy. @BlondsOvrBaghd on Twitter.