I truly believe that we are more stressed now than we have ever been. Let's be honest it has been a rollercoaster of a ride over the past 21 months.
Many of us are still suffering from pandemic fatigue, and even if we did manage to relax over the summer, it definitely now feels like a distant memory.
Like everyone during this time of the year, my “to do list” increases tenfold. Unsurprisingly, that level of stress can really wreak havoc with your sleep.
Of course, worry isn’t the only reason you might find yourself awake in the wee small hours, and I would definitely recommend keeping a log of your sleep issues so you can help identify the cause.
Whatever it is that’s keeping you up at night, here are my top tips for trying to get back to a restful sleep.
If you wake during the night feeling hungry, then it's time to have a look at your diet. In the third blog in my sleep series, Alice Godfrey recommends getting more magnesium and protein in your diet and, some of you won’t want to hear this, but she also outlines the benefits of cutting down on sugar. It really can make a huge difference. I am a big fan of magnesium as it helps with achy muscles. Night time baths are great for soothing the body, just be careful not to make the water too hot. If you'd like to add essential oils to your magnesium bath, have a read of my blog on essential oils to help you relax and sleep.
Do you wake up every night between 2 and 3am, thinking about all the things you still have to do or replaying the things you haven’t achieved? Well, then it's time to figure out how to leave your stresses at the door. Try using a daily planner to write down all the things you need to do before heading to bed. I would also recommend meditation before bed. That might sound daunting, but it really can be as simple as concentrating on your breathing or trying a bit of yoga nidra, which I love. I use yoga nidra if I wake up during the night or if I have a lot on my mind before bed. I also like to use it if I haven't managed to get a good night's sleep. If you want to learn more about this practice, there’s some great advice on the Nourish app. But if you’d prefer a great class, try U Can Yoga with Paula Hines, who teaches the practice in her workshops and has downloadable recordings you can buy from her website.
I spent one very long year living next to a group of young people who liked to scream and party most nights, even at the height of the second lockdown. I'd be in a deep sleep, only to be woken by their nightly fun. Finally, I decided to invest in a great pair of Bluetooth headphones and to keep a few essential oil blends by my bed. My favourites always have a little Neroli in them. Neroli is an expensive oil, but a little goes a long way. I am also a fan of Sweet Orange oil, which I like to mix with Sweet Marjoram, Geranium or some Frankincense.
When I am too tired to move, I always reach for my Real Calm or Breathe Deep rollerballs. Both can be found in the Tisserand Mindfulness Kit. If you like the smell of Lavender, only use a few drops, as too much can leave you feeling wide awake, give you nightmares or very vivid dreams. I remember when I was training to be an Aromatherapist, we spent one class smelling lots of different Lavender variants: none of us slept that night!
Too Hot / Too Cold
Getting the temperature of your room right is so important when you’re trying to ensure a good night's sleep. Cold feet often wake me up at night, so in winter I always warm the foot of my bed with a hot water bottle and keep socks handy. But what if being too hot is the problem? I have heard stories of women having to keep fresh bed sheets nearby, as they sweat through their night clothes and bedding. Some of my clients have also told me that having separate duvets is the key to a happy marriage; pity no one told me this earlier, haha! If night sweats are a problem, then I would recommend keeping a spritz bottle of aromatic waters / hydrolats in a cool bag by your bed. These waters are a byproduct of essential oils. To find out more about how to use them, just get in touch and I’ll be more than happy to help. I have also seen products like chilly pillows advertised: well worth some investigation, I reckon.
Take the tech out of the bedroom.
I've never been a fan of TVs in the bedroom, but I think that they are the least of our worries now that we have laptops, phones, iPads and Kindles. These can all interfere with our sleep. Ideally keep these out of your room, invest in an alarm clock if you rely on your phone as an alarm and, if you decide to go digital with your alarm clock, dim the light on the time or turn it away from you before sleeping. If you do wake up, try not to look at the time, it will only make you stressed, which will then prevent you from falling back to sleep.
Last but not least, I would suggest keeping some sleep aids close to your bed, so if you do wake up, you can get back to sleep quickly. I now have two diffusers at home, and one of them stays permanently in my bedroom. That way it’s handy if I need help to sleep, or feel like I am coming down with a cold. In winter I also keep an extra blanket close by. If I do need to nip downstairs for a hot water bottle or some chamomile tea, I try not to turn on too many lights so I don't disturb my melatonin levels and affect my sleep cycle.
However, I would add that if you have been suffering from insomnia for a long period, it would be best to contact your GP or a sleep specialist. If you are going through a traumatic time, then you might also want to consider enlisting the services of a counsellor.
Whatever it is that works for you, I wish you a good night's sleep!