Simple Steps for Solid Sleep
Simple steps for solid sleep
At least once per day I have a conversation with someone about how to have healthy sleep. See, I’m a Psychologist, Clinical Trainer, a friend and a mum. Whether the conversation is with a client, a group I am training, any one of my friends or colleagues who is managing the work-life juggle or with my own kids; I feel like I’m constantly talking to someone about sleep.
I’m really good at helping other people get their sleep hygiene and bedtime routine in check and I love doing it. Sleep is one of those things that seems like it should be so easy to do…you just lay there and shut your eyes right? Yet so many of us struggle to do just that. There are lots of reasons why this might be the case; stress, anxiety, medication, pain, illness, dysregulated cycle, etc, But I’m not here to ponder the ‘whys’. I want to talk about what we can do about it and how a few simple changes to your routine can make a massive difference to not only your sleep, but the rest of your life too.
I want you to really think for a second about sleep. We’re ‘supposed’ to have approx. 8 hours of sleep a night – that is a third of our day and across our lifetime, a third of our whole life!!! To be healthy human beings for life we need to sleep for at least a third of it. That is 121.7 days per year. If someone told you that you had to do something for 121.7 days this year to keep yourself healthy and happy…you would give it a fair bit of your attention. And yet, when it comes to sleep, we don’t give it much attention at all. That’s the first thing I want you to do, give your sleep the respect it, and you, deserve. Make your sleeping space somewhere you actually want to be. Invest in a good mattress, good pillows and good Manchester. Wash them regularly. An investment in these simple things can make you more inclined to invest in your sleep.
Ever stay up late to finish a project, a show or a report? What about introducing activities and items not conducive to sleep into your sleep space? Look, COVID has made it really hard to delineate or compartmentalise our lives and our space, but we can work around it. Set yourself some realistic boundaries around your sleep routine and sleep space. You want to be in bed by 10pm? Don’t start the next episode...it will be there tomorrow, I promise. Take things out of the room that keep you awake (T.V.s, laptops and phones) or at least move them as far away from you as possible *it also makes your phone alarm much more effective in the morning because you can’t snooze so easily.
A solid sleep routine is what will bring you back to good sleep when things will, inevitably, go awry. I want you to look at your night-time routine as a transitional exercise. This is about telling your body and your mind what is happening and lets it get ready to shut down for the night. A strong sleep routine should start in the morning. Get up at the same time each day. Make sure your choices during the day support healthy sleep. For example, I am a keen coffee drinker which doesn’t help with healthy sleep. So, I have recently swapped to “I can’t believe its not coffee” from MentaliTEA after a friend sent it to me as a gift. My sleep immediately improved, and I don’t miss out. Start the clock at least one hour before you go to bed. This is the time of quiet transition. Warming your body slightly will help slow your brain and body down so I recommend a warm shower or bath, then follow this with a quiet activity such as reading or doing a simple word or number puzzle. I’ve always been a tea drinker, and after trying I can’t believe it’s not coffee I ordered some more teas from MentaliTEA and discovered a lovely tea that I drink at night to support sleep (Snooze Tea). The herbal blend of Chamomile flowers, Lemon Balm leaf, Passionflower, Lavender flowers and Skullcap leaf helps me not only get to sleep but manage any stress or anxiety I might be experiencing.
Lastly, I wanted to share how important healthy sleep is to our mental health. It scaffolds our physical and mental well being. So, if you are struggling with your mental health and experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression make sure you give yourself space to nurture good sleep.
*Written on a beautiful morning after a great night’s sleep.
Our Treating Trauma Interactive Virtual Conference is on the 19th of March and all the links are on our socials.