It was 3 am and I couldn’t sleep. So I decided to download load Adrianna Huffington’s ‘The Sleep Revolution‘ onto my kindle. It felt fit for my current situation.
After laying there until 5 am, I realised during this sleepless night; that I was the ‘one’ in the one in three people currently in Australia that has trouble sleeping. And, because I am a woman, it will have a greater effect on me.
My anxiety increased over the fact that I wasn’t yet asleep. I lay there worrying about the possible side effects I might experience the next day; like, poor response time, heightened emotional sensitivity or the possibility of falling into a micro-sleep while driving or operating machinery (not that I do ever operate machinery, but with this lack of sleep business, who knows what I’d end up doing!). I began to frantically search my way through the kindle pages and internet sources referenced in the book.
My insomnia ‘uprising’ had begun.
Two months later, I am on the road to success. I have managed to go the last 3 weeks with good, quality, sound sleep…touch wood it continues!
Here is what I did:
- Closed my laptop by 6 pm every night. It’s not just electronic devices that stimulate the brain, it’s the thinking that goes with it. When my laptop is closed, my business is closed. I had to train myself to accept the fact that whatever I ‘urgently’ needed doing that night, could wait until the next morning. This included emails.
- Put my phone in another room at 8 pm, most nights. This is hard as I love a good couch scroll on Insti in-between ad breaks. Sometimes I pop my head into my room, like a true addict and have a little sneaky-peek.
- Have a shower before I went to bed. Research suggests that you need to get your body into a routine before bed. Doing the same few things as a part of your ritual, will tell the body it needs to slow down and start relaxing. I find a warm shower relaxes me.
- Having two magnesium tablets about 10 minutes before bed. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant.
- Turning off my data and WiFi on my phone once I hop into bed. My mum has been the one to enforce this. Coming from a medical background, she warns me of the days when there are cancer warnings on mobiles like there are on cigarette packets.
- A five minute stretch before bed. This increases blood circulation and any tension in the body, helping you relax.
- Once in bed, I do deep breathing and meditation. I lie there with my palms on my tummy and focus on my breath. I focus on my tummy rising and falling and my lungs filling up with air, clearly out any thoughts.
Ok, so you have done all the above and you still can’t sleep. I hear ya! Well the first thing, if it’s been 20 minutes get out of bed! You want your ‘sleeping environment’ to be a place of sleep, not an environment of built up frustration where you toss and turn.
Now spend 10 to 20 minutes doing one of the following, in the dark. Then go back to bed for another 20 minutes, if you still can’t sleep, keep moving through the list:
- Squats. I’m serious. No I am not trying to get you fit in your time of need…well not entirely! Squats help with blood circulation, again relaxing the body. After I have done my 50 squats (relatively quickly), I then lay down and again, focus on my breath, clearing out any thoughts.
- Drink a cup of chamomile tea. I do this and sit in silence in the lounge room. Chamomile has been regarded as a mild, natural tranquilizer!
- Read. May I suggest that you don’t read ‘The Sleep Revolution‘ when you are trying to sleep! By all means, read it one lazy Sunday afternoon. Instead read something that does not trigger too much thought or emotion.
- Write down any thoughts in your head. I often find it is tomorrow’s ‘to-do’ list that keeps me awake. Regurgitate your thoughts and deal with them tomorrow.
- Listen to classical music. It’s proven to have a positive effect on our stress levels.
- ‘Give in’ to sleep. When I read about doing this, it made sense. My body was resisting sleep. Now, I lay in bed and tell myself over and over again in a really calm, slow tone, ‘I give into sleep’. Crazy, but it works.
Good luck and good night! zzzzzz