- Susan Hilton
Have yourself a good night's sleep
Of late I have been watching The Diary of a CEO on YouTube; he has some really great guests on both celebratory type ‘famous’ and ‘famous in their own right’. Now, given I don’t have the best track record of sleeping well, I watched his podcast where he interviews Dr Matthew Walker (it’s a couple of hours, but a good podcast and worth watching/listening to). Inspired by this podcast, I thought I would pass on some things that I picked up from the podcast and some of my own ways of dealing with restlessness.
Sleep – why?
We start with the question of why do we sleep? Well, no one really knows why we sleep as there are other animals that don’t need to sleep or can switch off one half of their brain, whilst the other half remains very active, but we know we need to sleep to help heal our bodies from the days’ punishment, to recharge our minds and bodies for the next day. So here are some handy hints on how to get a good night’s sleep. To note, I am not an authority in this matter, and this is just my opinion and my view of articles I have read. If you are experiencing serious problems sleeping, then please see further advice from a professional.
It is beneficial to keep a sleep/bedtime routine – it’s not just for the kids! If you think you can catch up on sleep at the weekend, then you are wrong, that doesn’t work. Sleep every night is important. Try to stick to roughly the same time to go to bed and get up no matter what day it is. I know this is not always possible at the weekend; you may go out on Saturday night, stay up late, so on and so forth. It is not always possible, so don’t beat yourself up if you have the odd late night, just try not to make a habit of it.
This is quite important. Best to have no distractions in your bedroom, keep the TV to the living room or kitchen. Get rid of any clock faces, as if you wake up in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep, the last thing you need is to be looking at the clock all the time – it will make you more anxious that you are still not asleep. Keep the bedroom quite cool, around 17-18 degrees, you can have this cooler, but just try not to have it hotter. It’s good to have the room dark as well; if you suffer from street lights outside or the sun comes shining through at dawn, try to invest in some black out blinds or curtains. They won’t completely block out the light, but will do a reasonably good job.
Some people swear by it, but it is not all about sitting in the lotus position with deep breathing. You can meditate in different ways. You could listen to a bedtime story (yes, I really did say that!); there are apps that will literally tell you a bedtime story. I personally, when I can’t sleep, listen to ocean sounds – it is a conundrum as the app will only work if my phone is on, normally I have my phone on ‘Do not disturb’ which stops all notifications and apps from working, so I need to switch that off to listen to something that will allow me to sleep, undisturbed! Definitely an app flaw. I tend to listen to the app, then switch the DND back on with my phone so I am not disturbed in the night. One idea that Dr Walker mentioned in the podcast was to re-enact in your head a familiar walk that you have taken and describe this to yourself in your head in the most minute detail.
If you haven’t noticed, all of these things above basically are distracting you from thinking too hard; from thinking what you did ‘today’, what was good about the day, what you did right, did wrong or would have done differently. The distraction is the key to relaxing yourself and calming the mind enough to fall asleep.
I have already mentioned about the TV in the bedroom, it is also a good idea to switch of the phone, put this in to do not disturb mode and using the ‘night mode’ or ‘greyscale’ mode, what ever it is your phone does.
What is your Chrono Type*?
Do you go to bed early and wake up early, or are you one that goes to bed late and gets up around lunchtime? Your Chrono type is not decided by you and something you cannot control, but if you are in a relationship and sharing a bed with someone that has the opposite type, you may want to consider separate beds and separate rooms. There is nothing wrong with this, it could possibly even save your relationship and you could get a much better night’s sleep.
Some like a ‘wee nip’ before bed, some like some hot milk, or herbal tea. Alcohol is not really the best idea, it gives you that ‘all relaxing’ feeling and even make you feel a little sleepy, but you will not fall into a deep sleep, which is what you need to completely switch off and recharge. Best to avoid.
By all means, have a cup of hot milk (or dairy free alternative) or herbal tea. It is best to avoid caffeine from around late lunchtime in order for the caffeine to have left your system before it is time to sleep. You can switch to caffeine free, so long as you realise even caffeine free does have a small amount of caffeine in it^.
This is always something that will keep you awake at night. Stress maybe just fleeting (bad day at the office type) or could be something more serious. If you are suffering from a long-term bout of stress, it is always worth consulting a professional and seeking advice on how to combat this properly rather than ‘make do and mend’. However, maybe your stress is fleeting and perhaps relating to a bad day at the office or new day at the office. Some people find it helpful to write things down in journal (gets all the thoughts out of your head, leaving your head free to rest) or some people like to meditate (see above if you have skipped that section).
As stress is above, it is worth noting that exercise also helps to aid a restful night. There are lots of versions of exercise and it is truly down to whatever you fancy to be honest. Do you fancy a run? There are great apps to get you going on your running journey if you have not done this activity before. Out for a bike ride? You don’t have to go to a gym, there are lots of ‘classes’ on line you can use. YouTube is a great source for these. Of course, it goes without saying to be careful when starting a new activity and be sensible to what you can achieve; you may want to seek medical advice before starting strenuous or a new activity to safeguard yourself from harm.
This started off as a very small article and has definitely grown much more that I thought. There is more, but let’s face it, we all don’t need to read a huge article about this as it can get boring me going on and on!
To conclude, there are lots of things you can do to take control of your sleep patterns and get a more restful night's sleep; it is up to you to take control of your sleep patterns and get a good night's sleep. I wish you luck and a great nights sleep!
*Further information about Chrono Types https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/chronotypes
^Caffeine free coffee still contains small amounts of caffeine https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-in-decaf#what-it-is
To note, I am not an authority in this matter and this is just my opinion and my view of articles I have read. If you are experiencing serious problems sleeping, then please seek further advice from a professional.