Sleep what now?

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Must. Use. Swan. Picture.

I am currently clearing out random paperwork…. It piles up on desks, sideboards, coffee tables, in drawers, in shoes boxes….

I am putting this one up here as an alternative to hoarding. Virtual hoarding?

It is the simplest outline to what is generally termed as sleep hygiene. Like personal hygiene, where we have our daily rituals to keep us healthy and clean, sleep hygiene is just about the daily rituals to keep our sleep healthy and clean.

DO:

  • Try regulate the time you go to bed, and the time you get out of bed. Same time to bed, even if you are not sleepy yet, and same time to rise, even if it is your day off, or you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. It doesn’t matter if you are on night shifts, or early bird shifts, or evening shifts…or regular 9-5. Though these kinds of schedules can have their own issues  – but that is a separate topic.
  • Try to figure out how many hours sleep you need, we are all different. Some may need 8, others may need 10. I am not a doctor, so clearly all I mean here is try to figure out how much sleep allows you to function well, and even feel pretty good. And try get that much every night.
  • Your bedroom, or the space within which you sleep (if you share a room, or are couch surfing), needs to be as comfortable as possible, and clean/tidy. Try to dress yourself and your bed (or couch) in the right way for the temperature of the room. If you don’t have a warm enough cover, think about getting a hot water bottle – mine has saved me from many a shivering night, and is great to cuddle too now that it has a fluffy super soft cover. Try to create a dark and quiet room, where comfort is the priority. De-clutter and clean this space regularly, including keeping your bed linen clean and made up (or folded away if your bed is not permanent) properly.
  • Try to understand and accept and celebrate that the bed on which you rest your head is a sanctuary, a space that should be reserved for rest and sex only.
  • Try to create a pre-bedtime ritual, a pattern that will become habit over time. (Or after 21 days of doing the same thing – or so they say). For 10 – 60 minutes before your bed time, only do what you find relaxing. Turn the lights around you down to a cosier setting, switch off televisions, computers, any other machine you have running. Maybe this is your shower time, or reading time….or do your nails or draw a picture of a bunny time. Basically you want to slide towards bedtime, not jolt.
  • Exercise. Yes, we know. But none of us can fail to acknowledge how well we have slept after a big day out, getting fresh air, walking….swimming. So good….

DON’T:

  • Even if you have not been able to get much sleep the night before, or you’re just feeling more tired than normal, try not to nap during the afternoon or evening.
  • Try to eat dinner earlier in the evening, or even switch your main meal to lunch time. The idea is to avoid having a full tummy near bedtime. This also includes avoiding drinking too much liquid before bedtime.
  • If you are having intense thoughts or feelings before bedtime, use a post it, or a notebook, to write a keyword down that you can come back to during waking hours the next day. Accept you are having bad feelings, and accept that you will be better prepared to deal with that after you have slept.
  • Don’t use your phone or computer at bedtime. Something about the blue light is stimulating and will work against your brain’s desire to switch off. Put your phone on silent.
  • Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine are to be avoided for at least several hours before going to bed. These will disrupt the quality of your sleep.
  • If you find yourself lying awake unable to sleep, this may start to cause anxiety. Especially when you are clock watching. If you are finding yourself lying awake for 20-30 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again. Don’t turn all the lights on, don’t check your phone, don’t turn on the telly, and don’t start a conversation with someone that is going to get your brain started. If you are able to, do some relaxation exercises, stretching or meditation. Or simply open a book and read yourself into distraction.
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