March is National Bed Month – a whole month dedicated to your bed and sleep, amazing! And with that, March 13th also happens to be national sleep day. A day many of us never knew existed.
As much as we all love sleep, it isn’t something that comes easy to many of us and creating and maintaining a good sleep routine can be extremely difficult.
For those whose minds wander when it comes to trying to sleep, it can often be extremely infuriating. This could be situational such as worrying about something you have to do tomorrow, or it could be a more frequent thing due to ongoing mental health difficulties or general issues with not being able to sleep. Whatever it is, here are some tips to help with any sleeping difficulties, and some advice you might not have considered yet.
- This is SO important. No matter how you are feeling or whether you want to leave your house or not, make sure that you get out of bed during the day. We all feel rubbish sometimes and the thought of leaving our beds – our comfort and safety – is sometimes the last thing we want to do. Nevertheless, whether this means sitting in another room in your house or actually going outside, make sure you don’t stay in bed all day. We need to teach our minds to associate our beds with sleeping, and this won’t happen if we spend all day awake in bed. It is also helpful to try and move during the day to make ourselves more tired come night time. Try and set yourself a target of going for a walk a couple of times a week, or aiming for a certain amount of steps per day.
- You want your sleep environment to feel safe and comfortable. Make your bedroom somewhere you want to be. Ensuring your pillows, duvet and mattress are suitable for your needs and are comfortable for you is a good place to start. This is something that can cause you to awaken during the night if it isn’t right. The temperature of your bedroom is key and can cause you problems sleeping if it isn’t right. You don’t want it to be too hot or too cold, and you also want to make sure that if you’re sleeping with either a heater on or a window open – the noise isn’t going to affect you. Another important factor is light, for some it is easier to sleep in complete darkness which might involve investing in a sleeping eye mask. An idea I always like to use is spraying my bedding before getting in to bed with a scent that I like. You can use soothing scents like lavender, however I like using scented fabric spray as it feels clean and refreshing. Diffusers are also great for making your bedroom smell like heaven! You can diffuse refreshing scents, or anything you like the smell of into your bedroom to create a more relaxing environment.
- Now, how to deal with the one million thoughts you have ruminating in your mind. It’s a familiar feeling for many, getting in to bed feeling absolutely exhausted but being kept awake by your mind wandering. I find the best thing to do is to keep a pen and paper by the side of my bed (or using the notes pages on your phone could work too). If there are any thoughts keeping you awake write them down! Clear your mind, make lists, and figure out your plan for tomorrow – anything you need to do to try and get those thoughts out of your mind. Some might enjoy writing a diary or a poem to express emotions, it comes down to personal preference.
- Self-care should be a priority! Whether this is doing a face mask before going to bed, enjoying your favourite food, completing your skin care routine, enjoying a phone call with a friend or having a nice bath and lighting a candle. Take some time to look after yourself every evening, to try and get yourself in to a more positive mind-set before going to sleep.
- A bad habit many of us have is using our phones in bed. Using your phone or watching TV right before going to sleep can disrupt our sleep. The best things to do right before bed include: listening to music, reading a book or writing. All of the above can help to settle our minds before attempting to sleep. When we wake up, many of us are tempted to reach straight for our phones and this can sometimes be less helpful than we think. Try to wake up and spend some time thinking and planning your day, writing what you are grateful for, or even just letting your mind wander. Give yourself time to wake up and appreciate your life before jumping straight in to the reality of phones and social media etc.
- So when you think you’ve done everything ‘right’ in terms of your night time routine and still can’t sleep; what then? One of my best suggestions would be to try going on YouTube and researching ‘mindfulness’ or ‘sleep meditation’ videos. These work for me without fail every single time. They tend to help you focus on your breathing and relaxing your breathing which in turn can help you get to sleep. Another suggestion would be listening to calming music or podcasts about mental health or mindfulness (but don’t forget to put a sleep timer on, you don’t want to be awoken when you do finally get to sleep!)
A final few tips for you to try:
- Keep a glass of water by your bed so if you awake feeling thirsty in the night you don’t have to get out of bed and wake yourself up even more.
- Wear an eye mask to block out any light, or if possible try ‘black out’ blinds or curtains to make your bedroom darker.
- Pillow sprays or pulse-point-roll-on’s can be extremely relaxing and help you to feel calm.
- Weighted blankets can have a positive impact on sleep, particularly when you are feeling anxious.
- Try and get in to the habit of going to bed and waking up at a similar time to get your body in to a routine.
- Stay off of your phone/tablet at least 1 hour before you want to sleep!