Sleeping in difficult times
I’ve had many, many, requests about sleep issues lately so it seems appropriate to share my tips with you on such an important and necessary topic… as I write this prior to a 7am shift feeling a little worn out already!
I’ve blogged on sleep before but let’s readdress it:
So, much like when lock-down started people had trouble sleeping; its apparent that now restrictions are changing and moving that sleep is also being affected again. Busy lifestyles and conflicting priorities can mean daily life is really stressful, regardless of what else is going on in the world; if the stress carries on into the evening then it is going to affect your sleep pattern.
Bad diet, rushing around, not getting any down time or fun in your life all contribute to a busy mind and then a poor sleep routine.
Example of a hectic day:
Working from home
Juggling work with the kids running around
Trying to prepare meals 3 times a day for the whole family
Finishing work to then be faced with household chores
Then when you get to bed, you’re wide awake with a mind that won’t stop…
I’m sure the list is longer for many of you, but just reading my own example is making me want to yawn and hide away under the duvet.
So, can you improve your sleep?
Like most things, it takes practice but there are small and simple changes that you can make to your routine to allow a calmer bedtime experience.
Consider if your bedroom is a nice place to be
If it’s an uncomfortable bed, and;
you hate your room, and;
it’s full of bright colours and mess; and
you also work from home in there…
then you’ll have a few reasons already as to why you then can’t sleep in there too.
It’s become multi-functional, so your brain is overloaded and confused as to what you want from it and the room at bedtime.
Keep the room for its original purpose and decorate in order to induce calm. Work in a different room. Changing bedding, pillows, mattresses and de-cluttering can all assist with reducing the stress of going to bed if you generally dread trying to go to sleep.
Black-out curtains can also help in summer when the light nights and bright mornings trick the brain.
Slow down your evening routine
Reading a heavy-going factual book is likely to keep you awake.
Staring at your phone and other screens will also keep you awake for longer.
Delegate jobs out to the family to help save time and if you live alone just tackle what is necessary each evening rather than trying to cram in all your chores.
Write a list of what needs doing for the next day- that way you have it covered and you don’t need to think on it until the next day; keeping a note book beside your bed can help you capture any tasks you’ve forgotten too so that you don’t dwell when you could be dreaming.
Avoid caffeine after your evening meal, stick with de-caffeinated alternatives, fruit teas or warm milk drinks as the latter can help induce sleep.
Calm your senses
Essential oils can assist in creating calmness and relaxation- whether candle, spray or roller-ball form; they all have an effect on body so choose one that suits you.
Insight Timer is a free App and has some great sleep meditations and you can choose for how long, what topic and if you want guided or timed meditations or just relaxing music.
If you have time, a short stretch or yoga session before bed can help release the tension in your body after a long day.
Establish a set evening routine
After your evening meal start to slow down,
Do less energetic tasks where possible,
If you have time run a bath or take a long shower.
Wear your favourite pjs and grab that dressing gown; encourage warmth and cosiness.
Grab a book that’s not intense and can allow imagination in order to move away from the stresses of your day.
Creating a routine and sticking to it means you’ll train your brain to understand that these are all cues to start relaxing and switching off from the day.
Turn the volume down
If you find that you wake in the night or after trying your new routine you still can’t get to sleep then here are some tips on quieting down the inner voice:
If you tend to get wrapped up in those late night/ early morning thoughts then you can try simply ‘noting’ what is going on- is it a thought, or is it a feeling? By asking that question it ends the sentence for you because you are only giving your mind two options, instead of many.
If the thought has progressed to other thoughts then you can check out the evidence for it- what makes it true, what makes it false then thinking of a neutral mid-point can take the emotionality out of the thought and also neutralise it; it’s a great way to rationalise with your inner voice and help it become quiet.
Breathing can be a great way to connect with the body and take the focus off the mind. Take a deep breath in, gently pushing your stomach out as you do it. Then, on the out-breath release slowly and bring the stomach back in; make the out-breath longer than the in-breath. Doing this 5-10 times can help you relax and can be done if you wake up in the night too.
If all else fails then something that I’ve been experimenting with is this:
Stick with it, it’s worth listening through to learn the technique and I can say it has worked a few times for me so I’m practising this too!
Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to make a few small changes that will improve your sleep and help clear your mind when it is time for bed.
If you continue to struggle with sleep please feel free to press Contact and see if counselling can help you, as there may be underlying concerns contributing to a poor sleep pattern.