Great sleep evades many adults, but imagine if you were completely powerless to fight the urge to sleep.
Tulsan Brooke Cox has narcolepsy, a neurological sleep disorder whose cause is still not completely understood. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the disorder is characterized by excessive sleepiness, sleep paralysis, hallucinations and sometimes partial or total loss of muscle control.
It is a chronic condition that causes a person to always feel sleepy, no matter how many hours of Zs are caught.
“I explain narcolepsy as a metaphor where the chemical that controls sleep and wake states is a cage. REM sleep, or the dream stage, is a wild dog,” Cox says. “In healthy brains, the dog will go in its cage when it’s supposed to. People with narcolepsy don’t have a cage. We have this wild animal roaming our brains. This untrainable presence is constantly fighting to make you sleep.”
Cox has always been ambitious, and despite her narcolepsy, she excelled in her career in real estate auction project management. After a while, her health caught up to her, and she began working from home. This transition led her to a new passion.
“I taught myself how to sew as a hobby. Sewing shushed the world and let my mind rest,” Cox says. “I was sleeping a lot, of course, so I decided I needed to create the pillow.”
After testing types of stuffing, different sizes and shapes, she had her first prototype. This one pillow would launch the Nap Nook, a retail store that provides light-weight, perfectly supple pillows. But her Napper is more than that.
“The designs can be totally customized for someone special in your life, and always contains a little magic,” she says. “I always say they are hugs you can keep.”
Many people buy Nappers because of the way they look or feel. But many buy them as gifts for people who are sick.
“When a chronically ill person is gifted one of my Nappers, they feel noticed, loved, and most importantly, not alone in whatever battle they are facing,” she says. “The pillows have opened conversations with people about their own struggles with chronic illness, rare diseases or depression.”
The Nap Nook Nappers are available online at thenapnook.com and can be found at Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios and Josey’s Record Store on Route 66, as well as Brookside’s Ida Red.
“I hope I can continue to do my part to bring about awareness and compassion to not only those fighting narcolepsy,” Cox says, “but also to those facing any challenges in their lives.”