Roadkill route to the land of nod

15th February 2008 at 00:00
A life in the year of Emily Shark

"Can't sleep? The advice in this leaflet will help you to drift off more easily. Don't drink any caffeinated drinks after 6pm and don't exercise after 7pm. By 9pm, you should be ..."

No! My days are timetabled enough. Don't timetable my nights as well!

"Try balancing a hot water bottle on your stomach. Then slowly breathe ..."

Damn! It keeps falling off. They must have some better ideas.

"Make sure your room is quite cool. Your body will then relax naturally."

How can I cool down with this thing burning a hole in my stomach? All right, I'll take off a blanket. Tum-ti-tum. Yup, now I'm freezing, and still wide awake. Any other suggestions?

"Try not to do anything too stimulating two hours before going to bed."

What does that mean in practice?

"You may read a book, but don't watch television."

So television is stimulating, but books are not? Late-night TV snooker works like amphetamines, but Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time is mental cocoa? Right. Next?

"If your thoughts are keeping you awake, get up and fetch a pen and paper. Perhaps you have a nagging worry about work? Or maybe something more serious is wrong with your life? Whatever it is, write it down. Then make an agreement with yourself to do something about it in the morning."

I thought I wasn't supposed to be stimulated? "A nagging worry" would have done the job on its own. But now you want me to catalogue the snarling woes of the day during the existential silence of the night. You might as well tell me to "write a list weighing the defects of your existence against the terror of your extinction, then make an agreement with yourself to do something about it in the morning".

I think I'll go back to the hot water bottle. "Slowly breathe in and out. As your tummy moves up and down, you will soon find yourself growing sleepy."

This hot water bottle has a horrible smell, a bit like petrol. No, it's that green rubbery smell you find in garden centres. I wonder why that is?

It's funny how night changes things. This furry hot water bottle looked quite nice in the shop, with its dashing white stripe down the middle. But at 3am, in the strange orange light of a street lamp, it looks like a roadkill badger.

"Breathe in, breathe out." No, it's no good. I'm just not sleepy. I've been awake for hours and all I have for company is a squashed badger lookalike that smells of garden tools.

Well, at least I can ignore what they say about "a nagging worry about work". Those can wait until after half term. All tidied up. Wait! Did I put the Year 11 coursework away? Yes, I'm sure I did. I must have done ... Did I?

More from Emily in a fortnight.

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