Today I am touching on one of my not so favourite topics, but never the less, a very important one. Sleep. Ah – my long time trusty ‘friend’, in which I have a severe love/hate relationship with. One month I can be feeling really good and positive, like I have successfully tackled any sleeping problems and I’m on a running roll with it. Other months come along, and I’m fighting with it again, struggling to clock up a solid six hours sleep, and resembling a zombie for the majority of the days that follow.
So it’s fair to say that overall, I’m not a great sleeper. Half of my problem is that I have that much going on in my life, including work, socialising, business ventures, family, hobbies, friends, running a house… phew, the list could go on. I find that with me personally, it comes to 10.30 at night, and the rest of the world is preparing to switch off and drift off into the land of nod. Me – on the other hand – well I’m setting up my laptop ready to cram in a few hours of blog work and social media planning that I haven’t had chance to carry out during the day. I bet the thought of that alone just makes you tired thinking about it, doesn’t it?
So with clocking up on average around six hours sleep a night – which is always interrupted may I add – a few of you may wonder how does this affect me, As we all know, sleep is vital for recovery. The longer you sleep, the longer your cells have to renew, the longer your energy levels have to build up again, and the longer your mind is rested, ready to take on a brand new day. A solid nights sleep helps combat the following: fatigue, drowsiness, forgetfulness, poor concentration, tired skin, puffy eyes and an unclear mind. Ah, how depressed I feel to know what all of those feel like a little too well.
Just in time for me to be really concerned about my all-over-the-place sleeping patterns, and to try tackle it, Kalms launched their Wake Up Ready campaign, aimed to challenge people to really look into their sleeping patterns. The campaign is designed to raise awareness of our ‘sleep life’ overall, and features a personal diary to record and document the progress. I had a go at filling mine in, which lets me rate my sleep from 1-3 (1 is pretty poor, and 3 is great) over a three week period. As well as assessing my sleep quality, it also lets me make a judgement as to how I feel my performance for the next day is.
So what did I notice? Well first of all, the fact that I knew I was recording my progress made me more aware of my bad habits, so I started to put my laptop away at 11pm latest. That’s actually progress in itself for me. However, whilst working on the the diary, I realised that I wake up throughout the night roughly two occasions on average. The first time I wake, I seem to know I haven’t been asleep for long, so I don’t look at the time, and just drift back with no problem. The next time I wake, I actually do check my phone and look at the time, and it’s always around 5.30am which is an hour before my alarm goes off. It’s like I’m programmed to wakeup an hour before I should. This is the killer hour; I start checking my emails, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, then end up drifting back to sleep around 6.15am, fifteen sweet minutes before my alarm. Eurgh.
And how did I feel during the day? I noticed that during weekends, I get significantly more sleep, due to allowing myself to sleep in and gain an extra 2.5 hours. I was still falling to sleep around 11pm-midnight, but those extra hours in the morning made me feel much more alert during the weekend days. As for weekdays, I felt my eyes stinging slightly when I put my contact lenses in, meaning I’m slightly sleep deprived (no surprise) and come 3pm, my body crashes and I’m well and truly brain dead.
Kalms kindly put together some tips which focus on getting a better nights sleep. I started to take some of them on board whilst giving the Wake up Ready campaign a go, which are slowly ‘in transition’ and may be helping me on my way to getting much more shut eye. The one’s I’m currently working on include replacing caffeine, exercising in the day (I now go to the gym in the mornings only) and to write down a little to-do list every night before turning out my lights. So far, they seem to be helping me a little, so I’ll to continue these tricks.
Do you have any of your own tips you’d like to add to this list Kalms have contributed below? Which ones have you tried and tested? Feel free to comment…
- Always get up at the same time – even at the weekend.
It might seem like you need a lie in to make up for the sleep you haven’t got, but to break a cycle of sleeping problems you need to train your body into a good sleeping pattern.
- Avoid catnaps during the day.
It’ll only make it harder to get into good sleeping habits.
- Replace caffeine and alcohol with hot milky drinks.
Alcohol won’t help you sleep properly. If you are having trouble cutting out caffeine, set yourself a time in the day past which you don’t have it.
- Unwind with a hot bath and lavender bubbles.
Both will aid sleep by helping you feel more relaxed.
- Exercise during the day.
Exercising at night will actually make you more awake and you’ll find it harder to get to sleep.
- Get to bed at the same time every night.
It’ll help your body prepare itself for sleep.
- Make your bedroom a shrine to sleep.
No TV, no smart phones!
- Alleviate your worries.
Try writing them down before you go to bed.
- Try a traditional herbal remedy.
Valerian root has been used for centuries due to its natural sedative effect.
- Don’t lie there frustrated.
If you can’t sleep, get up and do something (non strenuous) for a while.