Day to day musings of a cat minder/ sitter in North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne . For details of services go to

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Welcome to CatMinders

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Brinkburn Priory Northumberland


Can you spot the lady in black ?

Can't Sleep ? Insomnia remedy which defeats even staring cats

The recent debates about staring cats and cats standing on heads and my own diffculties with waking at four am and having to read for a while before attempting sleep again prompt me to write about a sleep cure which I learned from Yvonne Dolan , a psychotherapist working in Denver Yvonne Dolan - School of Continuing Education, University Of Wisconsin - Milwa . This was taught to me at a conference and I wasn't at all confident it would work , but at that time I had a very young baby and really had no difficulty at all sleeping , but it has stood me in good stead in recent years so I pass it on to anyone who needs it .

My first piece of advice is to get yourself comfortable whatever this takes . For some this might mean re making the bed slightly , turning the pillows round or whatever , even dislodging some cats in my case . I often wake with a headache and might need to take something for that , or drink some water .

Then make some effort to lie flat on my back and in a straight line ( the way I was taught in yoga relaxation ) . Some people may chose to run through the rituals of relaxing all the muscles of the body starting at the toes and running up the body to the head . Ive personally never found this very useful but lots of people do . But I do like to be physically aligned .

The Yvonne Dolan ritual is this . It sounds complex but is actually very simple .
In your head you are counting things that you can see , hear , and feel . I usually start with three things . Thus

You say to yourself ( in your head or you could say it out loud if you sleep alone )
I can see (and you choose three things you can see in your line of vision, trying to keep your head still and your yes more or less focused on one spot ) ...... eg the edge of the radiator , the towel on the end of my bed and the duvet on my bed

then you say what you can hear
I can hear ...... the sound of the cat purring in my ear
the sound of a bird singing out of the window
the sound of a tapping noise outside

( if you cant hear three things you can just repeat the same thing again ... eg I can hear the cat purring still )

then you say what you can feel .....
I can feel .... the warmth of the bed under my back
I can feel the duvet resting on my feet
I can feel the duvet on my feet again

when you have done three things you step up to four things
So I can see four things
hear four things
feel four things

then see five
hear five
feel five

and keep going till you fall asleep ....... of course in practice you lose your place and go back to one ( some people prefer to start at one , I always start at three ) , or your mind wanders .

This was me at four am this morning .

I settle myself after ten minutes of reading Blackthorn Winter by Sarah Challis . A great read along the lines of a woman upping sticks after her husband leaves for another woman and is then imprisoned for Fraud in the City and moving to a little village and becoming a cook in the village school etc etc .
Kitty is happily esconsed under my chin .
Toby is at the leg end .

The three things I can see are..... fairly mundane and whipped through in no time . I try to talk to myself in slow hypnotic tones albeit in my head as instructed , and come to the hearing part . I can hear ... Kitty purring in my head ..........and Kitty purring even louder in my head and now I am wondering if she has climbed right inside my eardrum here and how on earth I am ever supposed to get back to sleep with that racket going on ... and I can hear about fifty seven really loud chuffin' birds all squawking outside the window on the telegraph wire or in the tree or wherever they are all trying to stop me getting back to sleep I wonder what time it is now anyway Ive lost my place is that three things ?

I can feel ... what can I feel , I can feel the water bed lovely and warm under my right buttock funny word that , imagine Laura's physiotherapist saying her buttock was paltry I know they're a different shape to mine but I'd always assumed that was down to the choice of underwear ( involuntary giggle at this point not particularly conducive to sleep , causing the cat to scarper ) , but it seems now its all down to something quite other , tut , what else can I feel , I can feel a distinctive itch in my lower left shin which if I bend down to scratch it is going to cause alarm at Toby's end , and I can feel ........ long pause .......bed again under me .

But , despite being very distracted , that is as much as I can recall , so I must have been asleep again in a minute or two .
It sounds complicated and its really remarkably simple .
Basically you bore yourself to sleep .

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