If you want to get a good night's rest, get a pet
The other perk of dogs being creatures of habit
I had no idea what white noise was and barely used the Insight timer that I’d downloaded years prior. All I knew was I was struggling to get to sleep and couldn’t handle the sound of silence. I wasn’t always this way. When I first bought my condo, there was a pest problem — and only in my unit. I had seen four mice in three years — more mice than I had ever seen for a total of two years in my off-campus apartment in college and 11 years in two other apartments. Not even my condo rental, before I purchased one, had mice (minus one who snuck in one of the moving boxes and then disappeared). I was absolutely losing my mind at the sight of these things.
The worst of the four (five if you count the dead one that my father found behind my stove) got caught on a glue trap and squealed nonstop. The sound of the squealing was worse than actually seeing the mouse. I called my father and stood on top of my bed for 45 minutes until he arrived. Then, I made about five giant steps to open the door and raced right back to the top of my bed until he got rid of it.
I couldn’t figure out how they were getting into my unit until an exterminator came by and noticed how desperately we were in need of tuckpointing by the doors, the front walkways and our chimney. Even after the mouse problem was resolved and I was finally pest-less, my imagination was wearing me out. I kept hearing mice that weren’t there. I could never go to sleep. I’d blast television sitcoms or Lo-Fi music on YouTube, but that was too loud for me to get any rest. All I wanted to do was two-step or laugh along with the TV script.
Rainy jazz cafe instrumentals and rainy night coffee shops made me daydream about Starbucks dark hot cocoa and bagels. White noise was a little better, but I always felt like I was on the longest airplane ride ever or kept checking my headwrap to make sure my hair wasn’t wet. I didn’t hate white noise; I just didn’t love it. Honestly, I just wanted to erase my memory or sell the condo. There was no landlord to complain to. I was stuck here — with a mortgage. I thought I’d never get a good night’s sleep again. The only thing that really seemed to work other than just lucking out and dosing off was scrolling through my phone until I randomly woke up and it was morning.
I haven’t thought about those tough, sleepless nights in two straight years. It all came back to me when I saw the latest post from actress Tamera Mowry-Housley, where she goes to sleep with her dog and wakes up scrolling through her phone. I was her pre-dog. And you can’t even blame the sleep problem on being single. She’s married with two kids. In her case, it may be phone addiction. With me, I’m a night owl already (my favorite shift during my newsroom days was 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.). However, the mouse infestation made my night prowling significantly worse.
And of all the ways I tried to successfully get eight hours of sleep again, it never occurred to me that adopting a dog would be the answer. I expected running, jumping, spying on neighbors and frequent bathroom breaks to be in my future. And the first couple months with a 3-month-old dog definitely fit the bill. But once she was crate-trained, something else happened. My other two dogs primarily lived in my childhood home’s basement, so I didn’t really observe their nighttime habits. In 2021, I realized just how much dogs are creatures of habit — because there is no private basement in a condo unit.