As you may have realised from my posts, I am all about living the best life possible. I started this blog as a way to give something back to help others. To help YOU realise what an amazing person YOU are and what you can offer the world. I want to make sure you are not letting fear, insecurity or any of those other negative feelings hold you back from the person you are truly meant to be.
In modern society, especially in the Western world we are encouraged to work. We are seduced into thinking that our job is our end goal in life. As a teacher, I have seen it happen from a young age. It is all about the exams and then further study and then the job, the job, the job! As we venture into adulthood and we start families, we want to make sure that we have enough time for them too so we squeeze even more out of our day by ensuring that we have quality time with those we love.
What is left out?
This means that we don’t get enough downtime, enough time to just be and yes, we don’t get enough rest and sleep. As a teacher, mother and wife, sleep has been something which has been missing from my life for quite a while. I am sure you can relate. I can have a great night’s sleep or I can be woken up for a myriad of reasons. Presently for me, it is a daughter who won’t stay in her new bed after transitioning from her cot bed. Honestly, if anyone has any ideas on ways to help me out here, shout them out! Whatever your reasons, you will know that you can have the best intentions when it comes to sleep only for the control to be taken away from you by outside influences.
Sleep, why is it important?
There is a great article on The Guardian website called ‘Sleep should be prescribed: what those late nights out could be costing you’ You can read it here. It is an interview with Matthew Walker, a sleep scientist who explains how important sleep is. Without obsessing over the negatives here, sleep deprivation can be linked to a whole host of different problems which affect our whole bodies both physically and mentally. It can be the reason you are craving simple carbohydrates, normally in the form of chocolate and other sweet treats. It can be the reason you are feeling more anxious or depressed recently. It has even been linked to diabetes and dementia. Unfortunately, the importance of sleep has been trivialized in recent history and we look at other ways to treat our symptoms when we could be addressing the source of the problem.
So what can you do?
I have tried to come up with a list of realistic approaches with the idea that one or a few of them might suit you and your lifestyle. I have trawled through the research out there so I have got the best information that is currently out there. I really hope it helps and if you have any success with any of them, please let me know. Here they are:
1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Easier to accomplish if you don’t have children. I find that I generally wake up at the same time each morning (thanks to my little ones and their eagerness to be up and about) but I am terrible at getting to bed at the same time each evening. As a result, I am trialing using an alarm to remind me to wind down for the evening. If you have an iphone, it is the bedtime part of your clock
2. Establish a routine. The idea is that you should do something relaxing for 5-15 minutes before you go to bed which doesn’t include looking at your phone / tablet. The light from these devices actually keep you awake longer so opt for something different. You could have a bath, read a ‘real’ book, listen to some calming music, do 5 minutes of meditation or anything else you find relaxing
3. Exercise is great for helping your mood. If done in the morning / afternoon, it can also help sleep as exercise increases your body temperature but it drops significantly post-exercising which could help induce sleep. The reason for this is that a lower body temperature is conducive to sleep and helps prevent restlessness
4. Have a notebook and pen next to your bed. Some people struggle to get to sleep or find themselves waking up in the middle of the night as their brain is too active and too many thoughts are whizzing around. If this is you, write everything down when you are struggling to sleep. For me, this is in the form of a ‘to do’ list as I can then relax knowing I will be able to see it and remember it in the morning. You can get my FREE ‘to do’ list here
5. Light. During the day, it is important to have access to natural daylight. This enables your internal body clock to work naturally and help you feel tired when you need to feel tired. Artificial lights interrupt our body clock and we can end up feeling wide awake when we really should be getting ready to wind down. This is a tough one if you are stuck in an office all day. If you can, try and get out for a walk during your break / lunch. Anything is better than nothing
6. Comfort. YES, my favourite! I do love my bed! Make sure it is a comfortable one. Turn over your mattress and pillows regularly. I spray mine with lavender essential oil too just to add a bit of extra indulgence
7. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
8. Make sure your room is dark. I know some people who wear eye masks too and swear by them as they help to induce a better sleep
9. Avoid a huge meal in the evening which can sometimes lead to indigestion
10. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you are struggling to sleep (or get woken up by little ones), it will only lead to you feeling stressed which is never good. Instead, turn clocks away from you and refer back to point 1. Do something relaxing and find enjoyment in it
Remember, you are doing the best you can do.
Please comment below if you have had success with one of these above or if you already have a tried and tested way which helps you.