Sleep that is!

I was lying awake. In the middle of the night. AGAIN. Does this sound familiar?

[Tweet “Lying awake. Yet Again. Does this sound familiar?”]

It was about 2am, and I couldn’t sleep. I was trying to stay as still as possible so as not to disturb my partner and getting annoyed that I couldn’t sleep. So after beating myself up for a while and a little chat telling myself getting annoyed wouldn’t help I started to practice a progressive relaxation exercise.

I think it’s fairly widely accepted that getting enough sleep is a good thing and plays a part in helping us to being healthy, fun, fab women, but it still seems that we often feel we don’t get enough and if sleep’s alluding us it affects all parts of our lives. It also is a great part of the weight loss puzzle and lack of sleep can have us pile on the pounds (this article from Metabolic Effect has a great explanation of the impact of sleep on our weight). All in all, not a great outcome!

[Tweet ” If sleeps alluding us it affects all parts of our lives…and can have us pile on the pounds”]

What to do?

In recent years I thought I’d pretty much cracked my years of insomnia, but this has knocked me back so I think it’s time to remind myself of the basics and hopefully some of my tips will help you too. I’ll report back how I’m doing in a week or so. Let me know how you are too!

1. Treat yourself like a baby – this might sound a little daft but babies need a routine and so do I! It helps our bodies prepare for sleep and work with, rather than against our natural circadian rhythm. I’ve share my routine below in case it gives you any ideas. Do I manage this every night? No. I’d be a boring hermit that had no social life if I did! BUT I do find when I do stick to it as much as possible I sleep better and feel better, which benefits all areas of my life. No one likes a grumpy Sarah!

[Tweet “Treat yourself like a baby (to get more sleep)”]

2. Eat right – this is eating the right stuff at the right time. Try to finish your last meal two hours before you go to bed and eat as much real food as possible. Cutting out the junk is a great idea and also reducing alcohol and caffeine. If you really struggle sleeping consider cutting them out completely for a trial period to see if it helps. Do you know that although people sometimes use alcohol to help them sleep it as the alcohol is metabolised it actually significantly disrupts the quality of the sleep you get?

3. Keep it dark (and quiet!) – turn off all light and noise sources in your bedroom and consider investing in a blackout blind and eye/noise mask if your room isn’t completely dark. If you live in a noisy area you might find playing white noise or some relaxing music preferable to intermittent noise.

4. Relax – make sure you give yourself time to relax before bed. By this I don’t mean watching TV (apparently couples who don’t have a TV in the bedroom have more sex, if that’s not a good reason to ditch the TV I don’t know what is!). Try reading, having a bath, listening to relaxing music, lighting candles, burning relaxing oils, doing a meditation, a little yoga or progressive relaxation. Whatever you find relaxes you.

5. Don’t fight it – If you find you really can’t sleep get up and read or do some sort of monotonous activity like the ironing until you feel sleepy and try again. If it is a regular occurrence try a protein rich snack about an hour before bed or moving your (clean) carbs to your evening meal and a magnesium supplement. All of these can help with sleep.

My routine:

This is the routine that seems to work for me (when I stick to it!). It may or may not help anyone else, but if anything catches your eye feel free to pinch it. Let me know if it works for you too.

– Finish my last meal at least 2 hours before I go to bed

– Go for a leisurely walk with ‘The Boy’ for around 20-30 mins. Often just a small loop around the local park. We chat about our day and try and let go of as much of the stress as we can from the day.

– When we get back, I get ready for bed straight away. It sounds silly but I find getting ready for bed can be too much effort if I get too tired. Have you ever been sat on the sofa and its just felt easier to sit there than find the energy to drag yourself upstairs to get ready for bed? Just me?

– Make myself a chamomile or Bedtime tea. Lots of brands do Bedtime teas but I’m enjoying a Clipper one at the moment and curl up on the sofa to read or sometimes have a bath with relaxing oils in it or do a little relaxing yoga. I try not to use any electric devices like my iPad/phone and turn off any ‘big lights’ as apparently these artificial lights trick our bodies into thinking it’s still daytime and we should be awake.

– Get into bed at least 30 mins before I want to be asleep. I pull down my blackout blind, get my eye mask ready and light some candles or burn my aromatherapy oils. I’m really enjoying neroli and rose at the moment. Sometimes I’ll read, other times we talk or listen to music or if I’m sleepy enough I’ll try to go to sleep straight away.
I use something like this oil vaporiser with oils from Neals Yard.

– When I go to sleep I either listen to a guided meditation or complete a self guided progressive relation whereby you imagine each of your muscles relaxing in turn starting at your toes, all the way up to the top of your head.

– Once I’ve finished that I count down from 100 breathing slowly between counts, focusing on my breath. With each number going down I imagine myself sinking deeper into sleep. I very rarely make zero but if I do at least I am more relaxed and more likely to be able to go to sleep.

– Oh and finally, I always have something by my bed to jot down any thoughts if I wake in the night. I find this really helps me to go back to sleep if my mind is super active or stressed.

Let me know your thoughts below or via email.

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