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How to curb periodic sleep deficiency and sleepless nights ...


'Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together '

Thomas Dekker *

Get a better sleep

I've suffered insomnia for years and I'm terrible at taking my own advice or using all the tools that I have at my disposal.

- Hem

So many of us suffer from Insomnia or periodic sleep deficiency, and those who don’t are lucky, as it is one of the most debilitating experiences and it affects cognitive function.

Back in the day I was so bad that I could go days with only a few hours sleep and still go to work and have to function. I'm, glad to say that things are not as bad as that now.

Saying that, It has been a terrible sleep week for me. Most of the time I am really wired because my job is absolutely absorbing and I love it.

However, it means that there isn't enough time for anything else and recently/ okay more than recently that has included sleep. I put my hand up to the fact that I am not the best at switching off my constant need to be connected.

As you now know if you've been reading my blogs I am a spontaneous person, which is why my morning and evening routines are never the same!!!

It has occurred to me though that if I have a routine it will encourage sleep :) ...

So the question is are you suffering to sleep? Laying there staring at the ceiling ruminating. Then having to get up and get to work, even though sleep wise you are running on empty.

The average adult person needs between 7-9 hours. However, don't take someone else's word for it, test what you need. You can do this by going to sleep at the same time each night over a week and letting yourself wake up naturally. Divide the number of hours you slept and it will create your average hours that you need to sleep a night. Probably best to do this when your on annual leave :) ...

Oh and night workers - I don't really know where to start. I come from a family where one of my parents was/is a nightworker and my honest opinion is that you guys struggle the most. All I can say is that it's worth finding our how much sleep you need and average it out too. It will impact on you later in life if you let it slide.

There is a minefield of information out there about how to get a good nights sleep, how to cure insomnia, how to sleep calmly, which means a little bit of research should pay dividends.

None of these includes alcohol people, I’m sorry, I know it works, but the sleep you get when you’re body is alcohol infused is not productive or beneficial.

Self-Care is of ultimate importance with regard to rest, but often we skip it by forcing the body to do more than it can, stuffing with food, stuffing our emotions, being attached to social media all day and night, not having a sleep routine. Unfortunately staying on your sofa watching tv does not count as a routine!

Makes miserable face :( ...

Now, I have been a culprit of more than one of the above no no’s. We have such busy lives and since the advent of the internet we have all become 24 hour people to some degree.

Of course if your problem is really bad you might need to visit your GP. They will look at your sleep patterning and help you with solutions. I have also detailed holistic ideas in the things you can do to promote sleep section of this article.

There may be other reasons that you might not be sleeping, such as; your cat, the other half snoring, the neighbours rip roaring party. These do need due consideration, however, it's another blog, for today let’s look at routines.

Sleepless nights

Sleep Routine: Tools

Having a sleep routine is invaluable in creating space for your body to chill so that you can get those all important Zzzzzzzz’s – It is by no means a cure all, but it will start the ball rolling. If you struggle to sleep, it is also worth the effort.

I also recommend a sleep relaxation audio, that can train your mind to unwind, so that you can fall into the arms of slumber.**

Please note: I am not a medical expert (and don't claim to be) so these are just suggestions, they are tools that have worked for me.

Preparation considerations beforehand

  • Is your room cluttered, untidy – give it an overhaul and fill some bags for charity.

  • Are your curtains thick enough, do they block out the light? – Ensure that they are just right.

  • Heating/ windows open, keep the room at a temperature that you feel comfortable in, not toooo warm, not tooooooo cold Goldilocks.***

  • Right weight duvet, amount of sheets on your bed, and something that you like the look and feel of.

  • Put a notebook and pen on your bedside table.

If we suffer with sleep problems, we do tend to know this stuff, however because of all the demands being made on us, sometimes we just forget. So if nothing else let this be a reminder of what you already know :) ...

Things you can do that promote sleep

  • A warm bath, I actually also find that a shower will also work just as well. If you’re using this method sleep needs to come straight after. Warmed oil**** (warm up in your hands) massaged into the body after either of these can also promote sleep.

  • Read in bed for about 20 minutes – I know that there is a lot of talk re: the bedroom is the bedroom and we ought not to be using it for anything but sleep time and intimacy!!! However, as someone who suffers I disagree and having a book at hand is a great solace to me.

  • Meditation – just a 5-10 minute relaxation a day can help the mind unwind.

  • Remember to get at least 15 minutes of outdoors air a day.

  • Have a set bed time and wake up time, when we change this up all the time the body suffers. A couple of nights here and there changed up shouldn't make too much of a difference. So long as you stick to your usual wake up/sleep time regularly at other times, all should be well.

Other

There's lots of other tools, get researching so that you are armed with ways to help yourself if a sleepless night hits.

So to sleep

Before you go up.

  • 2 hours (if you really can’t do 2 hours, start at 30 minutes and build this up to an hour) before bedtime withdraw from all technological devices – sorry I know, but did you know that the body can take up to 4 hours to get over the light emissions from a device. This means no sleepy.

  • Switch off your phone, or put it as far away from you as possible. Turn it to silent too, those messages can wait (think before technology, they had to!)

  • Make a sleep time drink, chamomile, hot chocolate, and put on some relaxing music (no words, works better than worded audio.)

  • Allow your body to unwind, this is a good time to read a book or magazine. In fact so long as what you’re reading does not fire you up, you can read anything really.

  • Take water up if you need, but minimise how much of this you drink as it can result in needing to get up, which will then effect sleep.

Up you go…

  • Do the usual ablutions before bed; make sure you wash your face and hands in warm water.

  • Bed clothes can be restrictive, ensure you're wearing something that is comfortable.

  • Grab your notepad and pen (this step is optional) write everything and anything that is on your mind, you can get back to it tomorrow, right? We’re not talking war and peace here, just the stuff in your mind that needs to go to sleep too.

  • Get comfortable and stretch your body gently (think of cats and how they stretch when they are lying down, just before they sleep.)

  • Start your relaxation audio if you have one…

  • If not get into your sleep position and relax.

  • Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Remember that being over tired can also affect us. Be vigilant with listening to your bodies cues, go to sleep when you are tired. Often times we power through these moments. The knock on effect of powering through is staying awake longer. The more tired you are the more wired you are.

I hope that this helps, it’s my method that I use and when I put it into practice, it really does help me to drift off to sleep. Sometimes I slip up and have the laptop on for too long, or I watch tv till late. This stuff does not work and it’s a shame, because I love lounging and watching movies … lol

Happy restorative sleeping folks

Love to you all

xxxxX

* From www.brainyquote.com

** I'm working out a way I can produce a meditation for you (cross fingers I get this sorted) ...

*** Now I think about it, maybe that story was for people who can’t sleep!! ;)

**** Lavender is good for sleep time.

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