Updated: Feb 19
Are you fed up of not getting a good night’s sleep?
It’s estimated that 40%* of the population struggle to get a good night’s sleep!
Often, we complain and put it down to being an inconvenience but it can have a negative impact on our health in a variety of ways, we know we've got to do something but it's not always that easy.
The question is what else can I do?
Once you've tried the warm milk, turned off the T.V. a bit earlier and had a bath, what then?
I'd consider looking at your habits during the day as well as habits during the night.
Do you feel you have a good work/life balance?
Do you find it hard to switch off and relax?
Do you have different patterns over the weekend in comparison to your working week?
What was your cycle like when you were sleeping well, has anything changed? Are you going to bed later, staying in bed longer?
I know there are a lot of questions but by drilling down into many aspects of your life you may be able to find something to help.
Begin by looking at your daily patterns.
Do you often feel stressed, find yourself dipping in and out of a variety of tasks rather than completing one at a time?
Are you easily distracted with Social Media?
Is your mind is working overtime? Do you struggle to focus on a particular task for any length of time without your mind wandering?
It's time to put things in place to help slow you down, not too much that you lose your productivity but that you have a clear structure to your day.
Allow time throughout the day to check your Facebook, Instagram, emails etc. but set a time limit, when the time is up, step away! Make it a daily pattern, stick to the routine and you’ll find you mind becomes calmer and less stimulated, helping you concentrate.
Do you have a working lunch? You ARE entitled to a break, step outside in the fresh air, have a walk, enjoy some natural light. You don’t have to overwork to be a success!
Do you worry often?
This can seriously impact your sleep once those gremlins start creating havoc, introduce different methods into your day to curb these negative thoughts.
Make a list of the things that are worrying you.
Using a ratio of 1 -10, 1 being low, 10 being high, prioritise how big a worry these things are. Often when we think about them rationally we realise that it’s not such a big worry, I love the quote ‘If it won't matter in 5 years don't spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it"…
How true is that, don't waste your energy!
If you feel something is still a concern what can you do to be proactive, taking control of a situation can soon help dispel those fears, taking action lets you gain that control.
If you feel something is still a concern what can you do to be proactive? Taking control of a situation can soon help dispel those fears, taking action lets you gain that control.
What’s your diet like? Is it high in carbs, sugar, coffee, tea…all very stimulating! Do you enjoy a glass of wine or something stronger before you go to bed as a nightcap?
I’m not going to preach, it’s not my place but I’ll share my experience.
I personally found that as I’m aging and hit the Perimenopausal stage of life there have been many things I’ve needed to omit to reduce the nightly hot flushes and insomnia. Sugar, alcohol and caffeine being the main culprits, stopping these made an incredibly positive change and a quick one too.
It may seem a bit dull and boring but by keeping the same bedtime and alarm call it creates a routine that your body slowly begins to adapt to, decide on what time you need to be up in the morning, how many hours sleep you need or would like and work back, making that time bedtime and stick to it regardless of whether its Monday or Friday. And get up at the same time too!
Setting the scene for bedtime needs to be done an hour beforehand. Turn the bright lights off, turn on the softer table lamp or light candles. We have an inbuilt mechanism that prepares us for sleep. Melatonin, a natural hormone is released, as it reacts to light, so when it becomes dark your brain begins to secrete more melatonin, making you feel sleepy, so the type of light around you makes a huge impact on how you feel. The brighter it is, the more alert you are!
This applies to screen light too, whether that’s the television, iPad or laptop, even your phone, so no matter how tempting it is to have those in front of you, put them aside at some point during your evening.
Create the perfect space for sleep, leave the tech in another room, it’s so tempting to pick it up during those early wakeful hours which just prolongs going back off to sleep, you start scrolling, commenting and even shopping!! Not good at all.
Remove any clutter, having a clear space improves the stress levels. If the bedroom is busy your mind is busy too.
Create some luxury, think hotel room, plumped pillows, soft bedside lighting, aromatherapy candles or diffusers add yet another dimension as aromatherapy targets our strongest sense, smell. (See my website shop link below for my soothing Essential Oil Sleep Gift Box.)
Enjoy a relaxing bath.
Have a gratitude journal, going off to sleep with positive thoughts helps to lift your emotional state.
Once in bed ensure it’s as dark as it possibly can be and don’t forget sex helps you sleep!
You could even buy a small coffee/tea maker to start your morning in a less rushed manner, helping you to feel more relaxed about the next day.
So, what to do if you wake during the night to still a busy mind
Firstly, remember it’s quite natural to wake during the night.
“The idea of eight continuous hours of sleep is what people think they should be aiming for, but eight hours ‘consolidated sleep’ isn’t based on biological needs – it’s fairly recent invention. Before the Industrial Revolution, people did not sleep continuously, but in two phases. So, if you tend to wake in the middle of the night and stay awake for a bit, you might find it comforting to know that’s how your ancestors slept.” Dr Diletta De Cristofaro
Keep a notebook by your bed, when you have 101 thoughts racing at 2 in the morning, write them down.
Listen to an audiobook or sleep meditation.
Bed is the perfect place to be even if sleep does evade you for a while, you are cosy and warm, to relax is just as important as your body is healing.
Focus on your breathing, when you pay your full attention to the inhalation & exhalation of your breath it quietens your thoughts.
If insomnia continues for a length of time it may be worth keeping a sleep diary which would be beneficial if/when you seek help from your GP.