The Weirdest Things I Have Bought in the Middle of the Night

Why insomnia and a credit card are a bad combination

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

It’s 3:00 in the morning when I have a sudden thought: I should buy one of those exercise bikes that you put under a desk. It will help make up for being so sedentary while I’m on non-stop Zoom calls.

One week later a box arrives with a flimsy set of pedals attached to a metal A-frame that just slides all over the hardwood floor. And the buyer’s remorse sets in.

There’s been much published about people who shop on Ambien or other sleep aids, but that’s not me. I stubbornly resist taking any non-natural sleep aids.

For some reason, I’m compelled to shop when it’s the middle of the night, I’m half asleep, and I’m sipping chamomile tea and fighting anxiety about why I can’t shut off my mind and actually snooze.

I’m a late night shopper, and let me tell you, 3:00 a.m. Rose has terrible impulse control, and even worse taste. 3:00 a.m. Rose buys the weirdest crap.

Often things come in the mail and I literally have no recollection of ordering them or why I thought it was important to get it. “I have a package?” I will say in confusion when it arrives, as I frantically search my email for order confirmation emails.

“What did you buy in the middle of the night now?” my roommate will sigh.

The only thing worse than my middle of the night ordering is my complete inability to return things by the return deadlines. It makes for some nice Goodwill donations though.


Here are some of the weirdest things I bought in the middle of the night:

A Chinese Pillow

One day a battered box completely covered with packing tape came to my house. According to the shipping information, it had come from China. I was totally confused. I finally got the box opened and found a kidney-shaped item filled with what felt like buckwheat. There was no packing slip or other clues about what it actually was.

I finally it was put together tha it was an “insomnia neck support” pillow I had ordered from an Instagram ad about three months earlier. The pillow is slightly larger than a dinner plate, so it’s clearly intended for people with really small heads — like children. It’s terribly uncomfortable, even if I don’t move my head and smells funny. All was not lost though, my roommate’s dog loves the weird little pillow. I think it’s his new girlfriend.


Kegels Tampon

Like most women my age, I’ve been feeling a need to tighten up my pelvic floor. Apparently that thought struck me in the middle of the night — probably because I have to get up and use the bathroom approximately 157 times every night. I guess that 3 a.m. Rose had enough, because one day I received a discreet box that included what looked like a supersized plastic tampon, with a set of little circle weights.

The box promised that the tool would tighten my pelvic floor and I would see results “right away”. The instructions say you’re supposed to insert the weights into the tampon-like item, then insert it into your body and “walk around normally” while the weights strengthen your pelvic floor. Honestly, I’ve been too afraid to try — the thing is like the size of my wrist and it looks super uncomfortable. Maybe someday…


A Package of Aliens

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Photo by Rose Bak

One night I ordered a package of twenty “Glow in the Dark Alien Figures”. These tiny little aliens are about an inch high, and while they’re kind of cute, I have no idea why I ordered these. A practical joke? A party favor? A way to brighten up my bedroom? Anyone need some aliens?


Egg Cooker

One night I was obsessing about the nuances of cooking hardboiled eggs and how it’s such a delicate balance between over-cooked and under-cooked. I don’t know why really, it’s pretty rare that I cook or even eat eggs but it felt important at the time.

I found a special appliance for cooking hardboiled eggs that, according to the box, guaranteed the perfect hardboiled egg every time. I have to admit, this was one of my more useful late night purchases, because the egg cooker worked great. You just push the eggs onto the little pins, add some water and set the timer. Of course I only used it like three times a year.


“Uncover a Dog” Book

Looking at books is one of my favorite things. One night I must have been looking at dog books because I ordered a book called “Uncover a Dog”. This is not so much a book as a 3-D rendering of a dog where you can see what your dog looks like under his skin by removing the layers. One page is the fur, the next you lift the fur and see the muscles, then you lift the muscles and see the organs, and so on.

Sounds like a kid’s book right? Because it is. I looked at it once, because why not, then donated it to a kid’s program.


Case of Matches

For the record, I don’t smoke. But I do like to light candles and incense pretty regularly. I can only assume I was thinking about the paucity of incendiary tools in my house when I ordered a case of match sticks. We’re still using those matches years later.


Tiny Diffusers

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Photo by Rose Bak

I’ve always been fascinated by essential oils and the impact of scent on the environment. It’s particularly important to me during the winter months when we can’t keep the windows open to keep the dog scent down in the house.

One night while obsessively scrolling through Etsy I decided that buying a bunch of tiny little diffusers was a good idea. There’s nothing wrong with them, except they’re so tiny you can only put one drop of oil in them at a time. They’re not super effective — even if 3 a.m. Rose did buy eight of them.


Acupuncture mat

One of the reasons I struggle to fall asleep is back pain. At various times I have made middle of the night purchases of everything from gels to lumbar stretchers to inversion tables — all in an effort to relieve my chronic pain.

Possibly the weirdest late night purchase was an acupuncture mat. It’s essentially a super flat cushion with a bunch of spiky plastic disks on it. Laying on the mat is supposed to feel like a pain relieving acupuncture treatment. I was so excited about this one that I bought one for me and another for my brother, because 3 a.m. Rose is super generous like that.

Unfortunately laying on plastic spikes feels about like you would imagine it would. There’s nothing comfortable about a hundred plastic spikes digging into my back, nor did it relieve any pain. It did however give me some interesting looking bruises.


It’s always entertaining to see what 3 a.m. Rose will purchase. What about you? Are you a nighttime shopper?

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