Sunday 16 August 2015

In A Mouse House: Sleeping Tips for Insomniac Writers

I have slept in a lot of places this summer.  We've had an interesting transition from one community to the next.  Our house sold quickly, which was awesome, but it left us with over two months without our own home.

There was house-sitting, staying with family, going on holiday, going visiting, staying in hotels and going to a wedding.  All it all, it has added up to me sleeping in seven different beds so far with two more to go until we get to our own beds.  Maybe for most people, this is no big deal, but I'm sure there are others out there who struggle to sleep in a new place.  Especially during an exceptionally hot summer.

And then there was the mouse.  I will not mention in which bed we encountered a mouse, but it started at two in the morning.  There was a persistent squeaking sound.  Was it the freezer?  Was it some form of alarm?  At two in the morning it is difficult to make sense of the rest of the world.  Eventually, my husband and I figured out some kind of animal was stuck in the house.  But we couldn't find it and we had no idea what to do about it, so I went upstairs to sleep on the couch and then a cot (+2 on my bed count), if you can call tossing and turning and imagining animals behind your wall sleeping.
The following day, we set traps and hoped for the best, but when we tried to lay down for a nap, the little critter went at it again and I was up on a bench, afraid it would traipse over my toes.  I was exactly like a cartoon woman, faced with a small rodent.  I slept in my daughter's room that night.

Now the poor creature has died, but we can't find it anywhere and so we are left with it's decaying stench.  Excellent.  I thought I was a poor sleeper before.

In conclusion, I thought I would offer a few of my tips for sleeping to my fellow insomniacs.

1.  Try to imagine each scene from a favourite movie.  Remember each detail, every line.  I've been using Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.  So far, I've only made it to the ball.


2.  Get up and have a little snack while you read something light.  Dark and ghostly books are no good at night.  Might I suggest one of mine?  Suspiciously Reserved: A Twist on Jane Austen's Emma is as good as any to help you sleep.

3.  Get up and write down what you are worrying about.  This one is thanks to my doctor and some books I've read.  I don't recommend writing a short story or working on your current project, as this tends to reawaken the mind, but when I write down just what is bothering me or even what I am thinking about, it helps me to literally put it on the shelf until the next day when it usually seems very paltry indeed.  I usually say a little prayer about these worries as well.

4.  The old relaxation exercise.  Start with your toes, clench them for ten seconds and then relax them.  Then move on to calves, thighs, stomach, chest, fingers, arms, shoulders, neck and face.  Usually this is so boring that I only get to about my stomach.

5.  When nothing works, just let your thoughts scatter.  If you remain calm and tell yourself the great thing about not sleeping tonight is that tomorrow night you will be so exhausted you are sure to sleep better.  Eventually my thoughts get dull enough that they put me to sleep.  I usually promise myself a caffeinated treat in the morning to make up for my gruelling night.

I need to go now.  I hear something at my window.  What is it this time???


  1. Great entry, Sam!! I've learned a few tricks, too. One is designing houses in detail in my head - this may only work for architecture buffs! I would have gone to school for architecture if it didn't have so much math o.O !!! I also listen to audiobooks - like having someone read you a story. And when I'm up for persistent thoughts my therapist gave me the "white room" exercise: you visualize a completely white room with doors on each side. Thoughts can come in on the right, but once they leave on the left they are gone forever. So you let your persistent thought in and see it in the center of the room, but aren't allowed to add or embellish. You can stare at it as long as you need and then let it out the other door. Sounds kind of silly but helps me sometimes!

    Good luck with the mouse. Wish we could have loaned you a cute faced rodent catcher- we have a few!

    1. Thanks Katie. I will have to try the "white room" exercise. One more week until we move! Hard to believe. Keep enjoying your excellent holiday:)