Hello again wonderful readers.
I’m not feeling so good today. The smallest of my children decided to be awake and crying for most of the night on monday, I know that was 2 days ago but haven’t recovered still. It takes me a while to get over such a big sleep disturbance. I am irritable, fuzzy, I can’t concentrate and every body else suffers for it. There really isn’t much I can do besides have a few earlier nights to make up for it. Do you do that? I can easily go to bed half an hour early but any more and I struggle to sleep through or a wake up super early. I know some people swear by having a super early night once a week at least. I can’t really do that. It throws me off for quite a while. So for me, I’m afraid, lost sleep is just lost and I won’t find it again. I have to spend a few days being gentle with myself to help me through and sometimes a 10 minute snooze on the couch but not more, or again, my sleep pattern will suffer.
I need 9 hours sleep a night. I have an active lifestyle because I send the majority of my day running after my small children. I think everyone can just about work out what the right amount of sleep is for them. Sleep apps like Sleep Cycle are a super help. You switch the app on and place it next to or just under your pillow while you sleep. By measuring how much you are moving around at any point in the night it will analyse when you’re nearly awake and wake you during your more awake time rather than your fast asleep time-when it is the hardest to wake up. It shows you graphs and stats about your nights sleep and they can be pretty useful, it was because of this that I realised even though I was getting a lot of sleep the quality wasn’t what it should be. Which is why I was really suffering with so much tiredness last year.
If we are getting the right amount of sleep it can really effect so many parts of our lives including
- Immune system
- Blood pressure
If you struggle to get the right amount of sleep or the right quality of sleep there are things that can help you. When I went to counselling for stress/anxiety/depression they covered a big section on how to improve sleep because unsurprisingly these are more likely to develop when you are having trouble sleeping.
Here are a few tips I learnt to help get better sleep
- Cut out caffeine. At my worst I could easily sink 8 cups of coffee a day. I had headaches daily, huge crashes in energy levels, terrible concentration and bad sleep patterns. I cut caffeine out completely which was pretty hard, I had lots of withdrawal symptoms and was horrible for quite a few days but when I had got through that, it was actually amazing. I was thinking clearer than I had in months, I had more energy in the evenings to spend time with my family, I wasn’t as irritable, I didn’t get headaches, my skin was so much clearer. Nowadays I have the odd cup of caffeinated tea on occasion when there might not be a decaf option but I never rely on it and I never use it as fuel for my body, its just not good for you. Oh and on the counselling course there was link noted between the big caffeine drinkers and panic attacks! For anyone who’s ever suffered with one of those they will know they are well worth avoiding.
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night, within 15 mins or so. Keeping to this kind of sleep schedule will help your body to know when its time to sleep and how much sleep you usually get. This goes for lie ins too. Ever get that feeling when you’ve had too much sleep? This can also ruin your sleep quality the next night. If I get a rare night out and I go to bed late I still get up within half an hour of the usual time (I have small children-go figure) it helps me to get better sleep the next few nights if I avoid a big lie in.
- Exercising regularly can increase the quality of sleep and will help you to feel tired when it’s the right time for bed.
- Switch off electronics for an hour before bed. The bright backlit screens keep your mind and eyes awake and make it harder to switch off when you get in bed.
- Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only. That means no films, no TV, nothing but relaxing. Reading is great before bed as long as its nothing too stimulating.
- Hot drinks. Try herbal tea or warm milk. Hot chocolate can be a bit sugary for before bed.
- A hot shower or bath will relax your whole body and the increase in body temperature can really make you feel sleepy.
- Don’t let the bedroom get too hot. Keep a window slightly open all night if you can or if its really cold just let some fresh air in until you are ready to go to sleep. Overheating in bed can be a big problem with staying asleep.
- Writing things down. If you have a lot of thoughts going through your mind while you are trying to sleep, leave the room briefly, get a pen and paper and spend 10 minutes writing every tiny thing that comes into your head, even if it doesn’t seem important. Get it out and you’ll have less to distract you from just relaxing.
- If you do find yourself tossing and turning then don’t check the time. Just don’t. You will never be able to relax knowing just how much sleep time you have left and trying to force it.
- Burning essential oils in your bedroom before you sleep is helpful for helping you to relax. Lavender is always a good one to make you feel sleepy but also ylang ylang and sandalwood are really relaxing.
- Meditation can help you learn to relax your mind and not focus on your thoughts. If you want to learn to meditate I fully recommend the app Headspace as a good place to start.
All of these tips are things I do for myself. I know how important it is that I get the right quality and amount of sleep so I pass these ideas on from experience. I hope they can help you as much as they help me continuously.
P.S. I am currently working on a life-balance ebook which will be released on Monday May the 4th. More info on that coming soon….
P.P.S. I have some new photos of myself floating about the website which my brilliant friend Gary took for me. Hope you enjoy!