I need to start doing regular early shifts at work, and by early I mean 7am starts. Ouch. That means I’m out of bed at 5.30, to leave by 6.15 so I make it there on time.
To make this possible I need sleep and lots of it. I’ve always really struggled with sleep, and even though one of my medications has a side effect of drowsiness (which can at times be pretty extreme. Thanks seroquel!) I still find I stay up and up with a wired brain. This is not an insomnia thing; I often just make unhelpful choices around bedtimes. And I have pretty shocking sleep hygiene.
What’s sleep hygiene? It refers to the practices you use to help yourself sleep, to both get to sleep, sleep well and deeply and sleep for long enough. Historically I’ve always been pretty self destructive when it comes any kind of night time routine. But I pay for it.
Without good sleep I’m less likely to exercise because I’m pooped; I am more likely to be emotional and not cope with my day, meaning I’m more likely to emotionally eat. It impacts my relationship. It impacts how I feel about myself, my body, and it definitely negatively impacts my performance at work. And since I work with kids, that’s kind of a big deal.
Last night was great though. I did the following and it made for a great night of zeds, and I had SO MUCH ENERGY at work today. I also managed a run which was awesome. And even ate like a fucking trooper all day, making delicious and nutritious food choices because I wasn’t leaning on food to make me feel better. Here’s what I did:
– I warned my husband ahead of time that I’d need a quiet dark house by 8.30 and he was awesome and helped out.
-I didn’t eat too close to bed time. Digesting keeps me awake.
-I’d had a good run and a decent dinner and a warm shower, and some laughs/quality time with husband so I was relaxed.
-I left half an hour to be in bed before I needed to be actually asleep.
-I turned off all the lights and lit a candle. I found the flickering made my eyes tired and the heavy vanilla scent helped me feel sleepy.
-I focused on my breath, using stuff I’ve been learning in my yoga practice, and let my breathing slow and deepen.
-I worked on observing thoughts that came up about work and the gym and my relationship and let them kind of float past. That was hard as I really struggle with that kind of meditative strategy. I’m a super judgemental thinker so it was difficult. I tried to let my anxiety about it go as well!
There’s nothing too amazing about any of those things. I know for people with hardcore sleep problems, none of that is helpful, but for a person like me who is just all over the place with bedtimes and good sleep strategies, it is really helpful.
It’s so worth it, since sleep is like hydration: you really notice if it’s missing. It effects and underpins everything you do. I really fear (in terms of sleep) the day we have a baby because I’m going to be one cranky, stressed, underslept individual!
Until then though, I’m doing my best to catch as many zeds in the land of nod as I can 🙂