How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Doctors and many other types of smart people agree: The most effective remedy for insomnia is to get plenty of sleep. This is easier said than done, of course, especially for those of us to whom fate has delivered free tickets to every ride in the Parkinson’s Disease Carnival.

Tips for a good night's sleep

For Parkinson’s people, chemical changes in the brain, along with motor symptoms and medication side effects, can make restful sleep as difficult to find as nuns at a speed dating event. (If you’re at a speed dating event and you’re trying to find nuns, you probably have problems that are much more serious than mere lack of sleep). Finding restful sleep is even more difficult if, like me, you not only have Parkinson’s disease, but you also have a 14-pound gray cat named “Ruby” that is six and a half years old, has green eyes and jumps onto your bed every night and sleeps on your legs.

As a rule of thumb, to get good sleep you should not allow your pet to share your bed with you. This is especially true if your pet happens to be a rattlesnake or a tarantula. Cats, though, present a unique challenge because they are sneaky, ninja-like creatures that tiptoe silently into your darkened bedroom while you are semi-somnolent and deposit themselves atop your body before you know what’s happening.

Beware of the cat

You may ask, “Why not just pick up the cat and put it on the floor?” This is another thing that is easier said than done. Anyone who suffers the misfortune of owning a cat understands that these critters possess a magical ability to transform themselves from organisms known to biologists as “cats” into objects known to physicists as “dead weight.” They do this by simply going to sleep. According to my informal calculations, a sleeping cat weighs ten times as much as a cat that’s awake. If a cat is sleeping on your legs, removing it while you are in a prone position may cause muscle strains, cracked ribs, hernias, loud strings of profanity and/or medical bills with many numerals on the left side of the decimal point. Besides, the cat will just climb right back onto your legs fifteen seconds later.

By the way, I know from experience that if you have a sudden episode of tsunami-strength bathroom urgency in the middle of the night and there are 140 pounds of deadweight cat anchoring your legs to the mattress... Well, I’m sure your imagination can fill in the rest of that unlovely scenario.

Ditch the TV

Another tip for getting quality sleep is: Don’t have a TV in your bedroom. There are many reasons for this. For one, televisions release emissions that interfere with the body’s natural ability to produce intelligent conversation. But more importantly, they are bright, noisy objects that keep you awake. As nearly as I can determine, though, a TV in the bedroom has no effect on cats. They can sleep through anything.

Avoid caffiene

It is commonly recommended that sleep-seekers should avoid consuming caffeine near bedtime. This is pretty obvious. It’s kind of like recommending that if you don’t want to be stung by bees you should avoid head-butting hornet nests. And if you don’t want to go to Hell, you should avoid head-butting nuns at speed dating events. It’s too bad cats don’t enjoy drinking coffee; if they did, maybe they’d be up all night watching TV instead of sleeping on our legs.

Avoid alcohol

Another thing you should avoid consuming near bedtime is alcohol. This tactic is very effective, but also very unpopular. Many people enjoy drinking, but alcohol can affect judgement, coordination, and the ability to fabricate a believable excuse after you’ve fallen down the steps. (I usually just tell everybody I tripped over a cat.) Metabolizing alcohol interferes with restful sleep. Also, scientists have clinically proven, through repeated experiments that involve slugging back several beers then breathing on each other, that it gives you profoundly bad breath. The scientists also determined that this effect is amplified if, while conducting the experiment, you consume massive quantities of Cajun-spiced barbeque potato chips.

Meditation

A lot of people have found that their sleep quality improves if they meditate regularly. Surprisingly, there are many forms of meditation that are not as boring as they look. Meditators sleep better and live an average of three percent longer, in cat years, than people who do not meditate. More research on these findings is needed to confirm that I’m not just making them up.

The bottom line: The better you sleep at night, the less tired you feel during the day. The preceding suggestions should help you start snoring away peacefully in no time at all. There is more advice I could impart, but I didn’t sleep well last night so I think I’ll go and try to catch a few z’s.

I hope I can sneak into the bedroom without the cat noticing.

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