5 TIPS TO HELP WITH SLEEP
Not being able to fall asleep is one of the most frustrating and upsetting experiences. When I suffered from sleeping issues I used to envy (I still do at times) my friends whose heads would hit the pillow and they would be out until the morning. I often thought that if I could sleep properly every night then I would be super woman – I’d be able to do everything I could do and more.
I suffered badly with sleep for about 5 years. It started during third year at university when I was working hard for my finals and I felt as though I hadn't slept for 6 months. Obviously I did sleep but it was often a very light sleep or not noticeable for me. I still suffer from the odd night or a few days of bad sleep but I have a few go to tips to help me unwind and settle down.
1. My first recommendation is to read ‘Over Coming Insomnia and Sleep Problems’ by Colin Espie. This book changed my life! It’s a 6 week CBT course and you read a chapter a week adding something to your evening routine each week. You have to be fairly disciplined especially for the 6 weeks but as your sleep returns to normal you can gradually stop doing some of the exercises or reduce how often you do them. This course is great to do and the skills you learn are ones you can reference back to on restless nights or periods of bad sleep.
2. If I’ve had a very eventful day sometimes I come home and my mind and body are racing. On these days I have learnt that I have to be really selective about what I do in the evening in order to wind down. I won’t watch anything that will get my heart rate up or get me over excited (The Walking Dead has caused many sleepless nights). It’s fine to watch TV but watch something chilled, maybe watch something off the laptop in the bath in dim lighting or with candles. I even find a really gripping book will keep me awake. So make the right decisions when you come home and really enjoy your evening. That might be cooking a lovely meal, watching a comedy, have a chat with a friend. If you can avoid social media for 2 hours before bed then do!
3. I used to fear going to bed and would either go to bed 2 hours before I needed to or avoid going to bed at all. Try and keep a normal routine even if you’re worried that you’re going to be awake for hours. It’s important that you don’t let the fear of sleep rule your life. Make your room and your bed appealing. Make sure your room is a nice temperature, I like to sprinkle lavender essential oil on my pillow, light a scented candle, and I always have ear plugs and eye masks handy – incase I’m feeling sensitive to sound and light.
4. Once you’ve gone to bed if you can’t fall asleep after 15-20minutes or if you’re feel fidgety then get out of bed and go read in the living room in low lighting. This is one of the hardest things to do when you’re warm in bed, but almost every time I do this when I can’t sleep I get back into bed and fall straight asleep. It really helps you clear your mind for a few minutes and stops you from allowing yourself to be restless and your thoughts to continue to tick over.
5. Try your very best not to get frustrated or upset if you can’t sleep. This took me quite a while to get good at but what you have to say to yourself and believe, is that you will sleep at some point, it may not be that night but at some point in the near future. Getting frustrated will only make the situation worse.
5 of my favourite yoga postures to help with sleep to follow soon!