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Right now there is a collective overwhelming feeling of anxiety and fear. While we all need to know what’s going on and how to keep ourselves and loved ones safe. We also need to stop ourselves spiralling into significant mental ill health. When we sleep well, soundly and deeply. We awaken with the strength and resources to face life with courage, resilience and a bad ass attitude to get through the day.
But how do we protect our sleep when the current climate of fear and anxiety can affect the nervous system? It can effect it so much so that we end up living in survival mode – the Sympathetic Nervous System – which is the part of the nervous system that doesn’t allow us to sleep?
I had been running on survival mode since this pandemic started back in 2020! It has taking me a while to understand why I hadn’t been able to get to sleep once I had unlocked the issues and preventions of my beauty sleep, my sleeping pattern has improved and I’m now sleeping like a baby. So here is some guidance on the choices I use to ensure that I get a good night’s sleep:
Your bedroom should feel like a sanctuary.
Keeping my bedroom, clean, well-ventilated and free of clutter, is a routine I have always tried to do. I found the loud ‘volume’ of clothes and clutter on the floor kept me up at night. If the room was busy, my thoughts were busy, consequently so was my mind – preventing my brain from switching off. Using scented candles and oils such as lavender and eucalyptus can also create a haven of peace and calm.
This is your safe space and the place where you go to rest and rejuvenate. Ideally, leave electronics out of the bedroom. The current climate has a lot of us continuing our studies or working from home. If possible, avoid working in your bedroom. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary, and the last thing you want to do is eat, work and sleep in one area. However, if you can’t avoid the land of sleep as your home office. Designate an area for work and never work in bed.
I now have my phone charging over night in the hallway as I found I was always scrolling through my phone instead of trying to get some shut eye. Iv also gone old school using an old fashioned clock instead of my phone for time keeping. If you can’t live without your phone next to your bed, avoid checking the time when you wake up during the night.
Practice deep breathing techniques, meditation, or pre-sleep yoga for 10-20 minutes before you get into bed. Write a journal before you turn your lights out and list all of the worries, fears and anxieties that you’re feeling right now.
Follow this up with a gratitude journal listing all the things that you’re grateful for that have happened today – conversations, smiles, nice text messages – anything, no matter how small, that has made you feel uplifted and positive.
Move and stay active.
When we exercise we produce a chemical called adenosine which helps the sleep hormone melatonin to work more effectively.
If you can’t get out to exercise, explore online programmes that you can do at home and even in a confined space. If you have a wearable device, keep it on during the day and set yourself the challenge to do 10,000 steps even while working from home.
I know this is really boring cleche and is something we all don’t feel like doing – trust me I’d rather plough into some Krispy creme donuts than reach for an apple. However, keeping healthy mind soul and body is pretty key for the land of nod. Yes when I say body, I mean being careful with what we put into it. Now I’m not saying you have to go all out Gillian mckeith! Just a few dietary changes and eating routines will make all the difference.
Stay well hydrated, that’s definitely a must! It’s surprising how little we are drinking now due to to wearing masks. When in-fact is so important to stay hydrated, to prevent headaches and a number of health reasons. Being at home also affected our much I was drinking. It was like I just forgot. strange I know, how can you forget to drink? I was finding I was quick to put the kettle on however, never for glass of water. Which brings me to my next tip. Minimise caffeine! Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptor that keeps you from feeling sleepy. Try not to over do the caffeine particularly after 3p.m
Eat healthy and avoid skipping breakfast. Particularly if you’re waking up with anxiety. Ensure that you include a source of protein in your breakfast – such as eggs, nuts or nut butter. As I mentioned before cutting caffeine after 3pm. Try not to eat late at night. No I’m not saying you have to stop eating at 3pm also. However, now that most of us are working from home, we can choose to eat our evening meals earlier in the day so that we allow time to digest and avoid impacting sleep quality.
Another routine I’m trialing is avoiding bingeing on Netflix and catch up TV in the evenings. I try to have a cut off point when I turn the tv off. I read that sleep before midnight is vital for optimising overall health, energy levels and mental wellbeing. kinda makes the old adage of earlier to bed and early to rise particularly relevant at the moment doesn’t it?
Some times the reason your not falling asleep is because of the ‘tools’ you have to work with. We had our old bed for about 15 years. The bed was a hand me down from my cousin so I know the old gal a lot lot lot older. Springs were starting to poke through and when ever my partner moved in bed it was like a tidal wave and I would also end up moving. So we thought it was time to invest in something new, considering it’s where we spend a good 10 – 12 hours of our day – sleeping. We choose a silent night Mattress the Geltex pocket 2000. [Ad]
The amazing bounce back sensation, actively responds to your body as you sleep – so you wake up fully energised. Geltex is also extra-breathable to create a cooler sleeping environment. perfect for me as I’m always a few degrees warmer than my partner. The Geltex Pocket 2000 mattress features an advanced gel infused 4cm comfort layer Geltex inside, which delivers three major benefits to help you wake up feeling energised every morning.
It has a highly elastic profile with Active Response technology that allows for greater ‘bounce back’ to support easy movement through the night, leading to a blissfully undisturbed sleep. Meaning no tidal wave when my partner wriggles. Finally, it’s incredibly flexible and moves as you move, providing even weight distribution and optimum pressure relief to ease away aches and pains.
Take a break
In this current climate, it’s very hard to just be able to get away and take a small break from all those stresses in life. however, there is some small steps you can do to try and recreate that dementalising experience. Take conscious breaks from all work, particularly screenwork and phones, at regular intervals throughout the day. Make conscious decisions about how often you’ll look at both. Run a bath if you have one, light some candles add some calming bath salts and relax screen free. Pampering yourself creates such a great feeling after. Refreshed and rejuvenated. Soaking in a bath tub of Luke warm water not your thing? Take time to do something that makes you happy and smile. It could be gardening or going for a run? or even cleaning your house from top to bottom. What ever makes you happy try and take 5 to do it.
As well as taking a break from my screen. I have avoided watching the news and browsing social media constantly. The journalism and media that has been put on our screens since this pandemic has been overwhelmingly negative! Consequently it started to effect how negative I would feel. I have began consciously choosing to watch programmes and read books that uplift, inspire and make you laugh. Doing so has changed my whole outlook and mood.
Not only am I taking a break from negativity on the silver screen, I’m Changing channels mentally, physically and emotionally. Negativity, is one of the most significant factors affecting our ability to get to sleep and stay asleep.
So I have taken a vow to be as positive and celebrate those small wins. We can do this by consciously choosing to notice what is good in our life – no matter how small. I congratulated myself the other day for just brushing my hair and hoovering the house. Taking small moments to do this regularly starts to recalibrate the nervous system switching on the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for thriving, feeling safe, optimal health and sleeping deeply.
Hopefully if not all but some of these little tips can be some help for you to grab a good nights kip! sleep is so important, it affects our mood, mental health and physical health. Subsequently if you have any sleep tips you would like to share please do leave them in the comments below, or get in touch. I am always willing to try different ideas, to sleep as soundly as sleeping beauty.
until next time, much love