Every now and then, I’ll feel myself getting sleepy, go to bed excited at the prospect of a blissful night’s sleep and then… bam. I’m suddenly awake, going over every element of my day in detail, overthinking conversations or panicking about something in the future.
Cue a load of tossing and turning, bad dreams and a very tired looking face in the morning. I know I’m not alone in this – sleep seems to be one of those tricky things our generation struggles with.
I listened to a podcast recently where the guest (a meditation and mindfulness expert) had some insight into why this is, and unsurprisingly it’s all to do with our phones.
The theory is that throughout our day we aren’t letting ourselves have any whitespace, or time to process. Any pockets of free time we have, we tend to fill with screens.
Waiting in a queue for something? Check Facebook. On your lunch break at work? Scroll through Instagram. In bed ready to settle for the night? Best look at Twitter first.
I know this is certainly the case for me. And the thing is, when we fill every spare moment with thoughts and communication like this, we don’t allow our brains time to process the day. So when we put our phones down, switch off the TV and try to fall asleep… guess what happens?
Our brains breathe a sigh of relief, “Finally! Let’s process how the day was and think about what’s coming up, shall we?” and we end up fighting a losing battle with our own thoughts.
Since hearing the idea, I’ve tried to be more mindful of this, allowing my mind to wander and even get bored during those moments when I would usually turn to my phone for company. And while it is taking a bit of getting used to, it is helping.
There are also a few other little rituals and routines that I find help me get a restful night’s sleep, so thought I’d jot them down here for you to try.
Schedule some yoga and/or meditation into your evening
Having some time during the evening to let your mind be quiet and still really helps you unwind and tackle the idea of getting some whitespace. And sad as it sounds, often scheduling it in is the only way you’ll be sure to get it.
If you can, try to get your heart rate up during the day as this helps reduce stress and increase relaxation. I plan to start going for regular lunchtime walks followed by yoga in the evening.
Write it out
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before in many blogs – but for me at least, writing things down is the only way to get those pesky repetitive thoughts out. If there’s something I’m going over and over again in my head, I’ll write the situation down, what I can do about it and what I can’t do about it.
This way, at least I’ve given the thought some space and attention before I try to sleep so hopefully it won’t bother me as much.
Stop looking at screens before you go to bed
I know you’ve heard this one before, and I know it isn’t that easy. It’s something I really need to work on myself in fact. What I’ll be doing is having a social media ban in the bedroom. So when I head to bed I’ll either read a bit of my book or, most likely, listen to a podcast.
I’ve really been enjoying Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls and the slightly odd Sleep with Me, which is literally designed to help you sleep… and it totally works! (Thanks for both of these recommendations Bonnie!).
Have a little pre-sleep ritual
What I mean here is have a little series of things you do that get you into that sleepy state of mind. For me it starts early with us turning the lights down in the evening and lighting a candle.
Then, when I get into bed I write in my Happiness Planner, use one of those lovely pillow sprays to help you sleep, followed by a little lavender oil on my wrists and temples. Oh and I use some fancy hand cream to. Basically I surround myself in lovely smells and it really helps.
If you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep – get up and out of bed. Keep the lighting low, take a book with you, sit in a chair and try reading or even meditating. Or, if thoughts are keeping you up, try writing it out like I described earlier. When you feel sleepy again, head back to bed.
Remember, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes the fear of only getting ‘X’ hours of sleep is what keeps you awake, so try to let go of the panic and breathe. If you don’t sleep well tonight, you can try again tomorrow.
Of course, if you’re struggling to sleep every night, get yourself off to the doctors and see what they advise. These tips won’t work for everyone, we’re all unique and what matters is finding what works for you.
If you do try any of these ideas though, I would love to know how you get on and let me know if you have any other tips for sleeping better! Sweet dreams.
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