The day I nearly collapsed on the bus!!!

Emer Flannery, CEO Kocoono

How I started my journey  of helping people to fall in love with sleep again? For this yearly celebration with you I prepared a special blog about how I started my journey spreading calm, relaxation and mood boosting products around Ireland!

My learning working with children with autism

In 2011 I was working as a behaviour therapist with children with autism. One mother advised me that her child benefited from deep touch pressure and weighted products.

What is a deep touch, pressure I hear you ask!! Deep pressure stimulation can be described as firm but gentle exertion of pressure across the body. We all have pressure points, that when stimulated, can aid us to relax. This can be in the form of a hug, squeezing , stroking or swaddling.

So back to the story! I used to use deep touch pressure with this child in particular that I worked with and he loved head massages and body squeezes and pressure on his hands. As this child was non-verbal he would point to the areas he wanted more deep touch pressure or guide my hand. So I began to wonder if it would be better if he could self-soothe with his own deep touch pressure products that might help him to relax in the chair in school. Little did I know this was the start of Kocoono™ being born.


 The influence of my mum as dress-maker

As my mother is a dress-maker (a great one at that!) I grew up knowing how to sew. So I set about sourcing the materials to make this product.

Eventually all the products arrived. I had material left over from my mothers old stock (upcycling all the way!!). I had sourced some plastic polly pellets to use as the  weights (no longer using those bad boys!) and I set about making a weighted lappad.

Then because I had some stock left over I made another one, but this time I said “sure, I’ll try sell this one”… eh…I should probably have learned a little bit more about the online world first as I went on ebay and meant to start the biddy for €5 thinking that the “bidding” would go up to €25/30 (I had spent hours making it) but I ended up selling it for €5, at least it went to a good home and I posted it to a teacher who bought it for a student of hers!

What happened next you might ask? I will show you the epiphany I had and also share with you how you can use it to create a more peace filled life, relax more and sleep better which will have domino positive effects on your world.

Educated by a pile of pillows

Fast forward a few years and I am living in Saudi Arabia. Its summer time and really hot, I have air conditioning inside but I choose not to use it too much as I like to be kept snug! The bed linen is really thin there so I started to put towels and clothing on top of me in the bed, not for the heat but for the weight, for the deep touch pressure.

Like I would pile the clothes on me, if anyone would walk in they wouldn’t realise anyone was in the actual bed!

When I would travel and stay in hotels I would put pillows on top of me….for the deep pressure stimulation (not that I was actually aware at that time of why I was doing it!). I was just doing this naturally without even thinking about it or recognising why I felt the need to do it. So I keep pottering along with life, being weird, with my mountain of clothes, pillows and towels on top of me, peeping out from underneath it like I had popularised dens for adults!!!

Although I did start to question what my need was for this mountain of pillows. 

What happened next!?

The day I nearly collapsed on the bus!

 There is an old adage that says "you’ll sleep long enough when you’re dead"… this was also my motto. I didn’t like sleep and thought it was a waste of life, I avoided the bed and was working across different care services mostly in the homeless sector, oftentimes doing sleepovers or live nights (yep staying awake all night – now I tell you there is nothing more satisfying than the sleep you get after a night shift!).

With my background in Psychology you would think I would have known better (at least I do now!). I would get on average 5 hours sleep per night if I was lucky and was always outwardly boastful about how little sleep I got and how well I functioned without it, I would get giddy and hyperactive instead of lethargic.

Until one fateful day…….I was coming home after work from a live night shift and I stepped on the bus to take me home. A wave of weakness washed over me like I was a tall lamp and someone just pulled the plug. The bus was busy and I started to panic as I could feel that I was about to faint or be sick or do both. There was a girl in her early 20’s siting down and I quickly asked her, “please can you let me have your seat…”.  I got a raised eyebrow as a response and she must have recognized my pale face and stood up and let me have her seat….relief!

I kept my head down concentrating on not collapsing, phew the stress of that! Eventually made it home, ran straight to the bed, apologizing to my bed for betraying it for so long and robbing my body of its much needed company. I had to take several days off work, my body was annnnggrrry at me!

I went to a healthcare practioner and again boasted about my lack of sleep while questioning him WHY my health was so poor and WHY I was feeling so unwell all the time. He brought me over to a mirror, advised me to look into my eyes and tell him what I saw.

Me:  Erm…..I see an eyeball?!?!?! I guess my pupils are quite big.

Mr Health Guru: Yes, yes they are” he said knowingly. You’re body is running on adrenaline. This lack of sleep is causing you to put pressure on your heart and all the other organs in your body, if you continue this way you may be at risk of becoming very very sick and possibly an early death. You need to change your behaviour towards sleep.

Erm hello wake-up call and thank you for contacting me!!!! (Takes out books and starts researching more on sleep)

We don’t learn anything about sleep in schools, well not back in my day and now I am determined to change that.

Sleep deprivation can cause serious health concerns ranging from:

  • inability to make affective decisions,
  • loss of productivity,
  • inability to regulate emotions,
  • hyperactiveness (preach!!!!!)
  • reduced sex drive,
  • anxiety,
  • clumsiness (how many times can someone drop their keys in the space of 60 seconds!?!)
  • to more serious physical health ailments such as
  • increased risk of heart disease,
  • obesity,
  • weakened immune system,
  • diabetes
  • strokes
  • psychiatric disorders to name a few

Scary huh!! I realised that I didn’t like going to bed because I didn’t sleep well when I went to bed. I would never feel well rested and would twist and turn a lot when I did, so both quality and quantity sleep was lacking for me.

In America approximately 1 in 4 develop insomnia each year and in Ireland, according to Laya healthcare, approximately 80% of people are sleep deprived. The statistics are shocking and it is my personal mission to do something about this! Welcome Kocoono™ blankets!!

How I started designing the first Kocoono™ Weighted blanket? 

Visit my next blog "Designing Kocoono™ Weighted Blanket since 2011" to learn about  how I started with the design of Kocoono™ Weighted Blanket until arriving to the an actual model. Do not miss it! 

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