Let's Talk Sleep
let's talk sleep!
This is a bit of a different post for me and unrelated to weddings, but it's a topic that I know all too well. I have always been a bit of an insomniac; there are times when I sleep better, but usually, it's a struggle. But this lockdown is hitting me differently.
I know lots of people are really struggling with sleep at the moment, maybe for the same reasons, so I am hoping some of these ideas could help you! There is no one solution to insomnia, but it's about trying to get rid of anything that may be hindering you. Here is a (pretty long) list of things I have tried in the past!
Firstly, try and see if you can figure out why you aren't sleeping. Has something changed recently around the time you stopped being able to sleep? Maybe you need some new, comfortable pillows. Maybe it's too hot or cold in your room now. Are you eating later at night? Or perhaps you're worried about something? You may not even realise that you are worried or anxious - it could be something niggling in your subconscious. It could be something as small as you've been meaning to tidy a cupboard, or you haven't checked in with a friend or relative recently. Try and think deeply about things that might be troubling you, and do all you can to alleviate the stress. You may not be able to fix the issue just yet, but perhaps you can rationalise with yourself, or talk to other people about it. Easing this can feel like a weights been lifted, and you might fall straight to sleep!
If there doesn't seem to be anything in particular that's causing your insomnia, try the following!
try to be consistent with your sleep pattern. Try and set a bed time and gradually decrease the light you're exposed to as that time approaches. Use black out blinds or an eye mask to sleep. Then try and set an alarm and open your blinds to let in the light when you wake up. Eventually your body should adapt to this. Adults usually need around 6-9 hours
try and be active in the day, and relax in the evening. Try exercising or cleaning or going for a walk to burn some energy in the day, and read or have a bath or do some gentle yoga in the evening to wind down
spend as little time in the room that you sleep as possible (easier said than done at the moment) and make it a relaxing space - keep it tidy for a clear mind. Light a few candles and create a place that looks and smells pretty
turn on night-shift on your phone to automatically change as the sun rises and sets
turn your screen colour to warmer tones to lose the blue light and turn the brightness down
write a list of things you might be worrying about/ things you need to do the next day before you go to bed so that they aren't on your mind when you try to sleep. Remember, going to bed is not the time to solve the world's problems. If over-thinking is something you do a lot at night, set some time in your day just to just sit and think or talk things through
avoid things that cause you stress in the evening, for instance don't read the news or have conversations about the pandemic before bed!
When trying to go to sleep, if silence isn't working for you, or you're too wrapped up in your thoughts, try listening to adult bedtime stories (Harry Styles' sleep story is a classic), sounds of nature, mediation, mindfulness, positive affirmations or a TV show that's comforting such as a David Attenborough documentary or something you've watched a thousand times and know well
don't have caffeine before bed - it can stay in your system for around five hours!
be conscious of what you eat before bed - apparently eating healthy carbs can increase your levels of serotonin which helps you sleep - have a read here, but try and avoid big meals too late at night, as you might find it harder to sleep with an uncomfortably full stomach
try not to stress that you aren't falling asleep - this is definitely easier said than done, but just remind yourself that you are capable of functioning on little sleep - I'm sure you've done it before!
Don't look at the clock!! Set an alarm for a time that you want/ need to get up by - every day, even on the weekends - that way, you won't be tempted to check the time constantly - you'll know that you've still got some time to sleep!
if sleep really isn't happening, don't force it. Try an activity that might help you feel more sleepy, like reading or doing some gentle cleaning.
if you are over tired, have a nap in the day if you can find the time. Apparently, a 20 minute power nap is perfect, especially if you have an espresso just before so that it kicks in when you wake up
take a warm bath to relax your body and mind
during the day, expose yourself to sunlight. In the winter, you could try using a SAD light/ light therapy (consult your GP or do your research) to make sure you're still getting your vit D and to improve your mental health which can suffer with no sleep
I am absolutely no qualified expert, but I have a loooot of experience without sleep, so hopefully there might be a couple of things you could try in this list! If your insomnia goes on and on, perhaps it's time to speak to your GP!
I hope you manage to get a nice, restful nights sleep!