Insomnia and a Credit Card Can Lead to Middle of the Night Shopping Sprees

Rose Bak

Nighttime online shopping can be a problem for me, especially when I'm stressed. Here are some of the weirdest things I purchased this year.

Photo by Alexandra Gorn 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. It's a useless piece of junk. And then the buyer’s remorse sets in.

There’s been much published about people who shop on Ambien or other sleeping pills, but that’s not my problem. I stubbornly resist taking any non-natural sleep aids since addiction runs deep in my family.

For some reason, I’m just compelled to shop for weird things when it’s the middle of the night. I'm usually half-asleep, sipping chamomile tea, doing breathing exercises, and fighting anxiety about why I can’t shut off my mind and actually snooze.

The sad fact is that I am 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.

And it only got worse last year with the stress of the pandemic and the election and everything else that happened.

Often things come in the mail and I literally have no recollection of ordering them or why I thought it was important to get them. “I have a package?” I will say in confusion when the UPS or Fed Ex guy 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 - and a tax deduction.

Here are some of the weirdest things I bought in the middle of the night in 2020:

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 about why a package would come from China with no return address.

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 put it together that 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 it smells funny.

All was not lost though, my roommate’s dog loves the weird little pillow. I won't go into details but 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 with the constant peeing because one day I received a discreet box that included what looked like a supersized plastic tampon. Nestled in the foam next to it was a set of little circle weights that looked like the thick washers you might use with a nut and bolt.

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 all into your body and “walk around normally” while the weights strengthen your pelvic floor.

Honestly, I’ve been too afraid to try it. The thing is like the size of my wrist and it looks super uncomfortable. Maybe someday…

A Package of Aliens

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?

Does anyone need some aliens? I think you could put them on a cupcake or in a gift bag or something.

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 use it like three times a year. It might be heading to the Goodwill soon because I'm trying to Marie Kondo my house.

“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

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 are about the size of a nickel.

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. I can't wait to see what she finds in the new year of 2021.

What about you? Are you a nighttime shopper? What weird things did you buy last year?


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Rose Bak is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and special needs dogs. She writes on a variety of topics including local news, homelessness, poverty, relationships, yoga, and aging. She is also a published author of romantic fiction. For more of Rose's work, visit her website at or follow her on social media @AuthorRoseBak.

Portland, OR

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