As I mentioned in my August review post, I’ve been struggling a little with sleep recently. For what is either medication-related reasons or a heavy coincidence I’m struggling to remember to look after myself. I either get caught up in projects and forget it’s nearly bedtime, or I get distracted on my way to bed and end up Buzzfeed listicle-hopping until 2 o’clock in the morning.
Although there have been a couple of nights recently that anxiety has kept me awake later than I’d like, I’m lucky in that I haven’t had to deal with insomnia for a very long time. I say “lucky” because I remember that terror, which Claire so eloquently describes in her latest post, well: the misery of not being able to get to sleep, and the panic as you count down the hours you have left and estimate just how terrible you’re going to feel when your alarm wakes you up for work. It takes me a few false starts, sure, but I’m generally asleep within half an hour of going to bed. I sleep as near as damn it through the night, and my sleep cycle generally works out so that I wake up without an alarm.
That’s if I remember to go in the first place, of course.
At the doctor’s this week (no more med changes until we survive the winter! Hurrah!) I mentioned some of the problems I’ve been experiencing: how tired I’ve been, how I forget to go to bed and how I seem to be incapable of getting sufficient sleep. She said that one of the things she hears frequently in her practice is complaints from people who hold themselves to an unrealistic standard, ingrained in many of us from birth, of eight hours’ sleep a night. It’s something that I think I’ve become a little guilty of lately, not least because I now use my Fitbit as an alarm clock and sleep monitor and it gives me a little green light and smiley-faced full moon if I manage a fully-rested eight hours. And, as we all know, I’m a sucker for turning anything into a game…
I’ve spent the past two weeks running a little experiment in which I prioritise getting to bed over any other midweek activity. The results have been… inconclusive, not least because I’ve had a couple of big deadlines recently and the whole strategy has gone oot the windae as soon as I’ve hit the weekend (Freelance Mondays, you say? Try freelance Sunday night into the early hours of Monday morning, then sleeping until noon…). But I’m keen to persevere, because when my brain-space feels a little chaotic having a routine gives me one less thing to worry about.
So, with that in mind, here are four things that are helping me to feel a little more rested.
1. Pick a bedtime … and stick to it.
Bedtimes are for babies, you say? Well, I’d argue that once we hit adulthood our need for a set bedtime actually becomes greater, because it’s far too easy to sit up into the night watching crap on Netflix even when we know we have somewhere to be in the morning. Take it from me: I live with somebody who appears to operate permanently on Eastern Standard Time.
A bedtime of 11pm gives me enough flexibility to still get that hallowed eight hours (sorry Dr Douglas) and be up at 7.30am for work. Within that framework, I’ve set myself a one-hour buffer during which I stop work for the night and switch to pursuits that aren’t screen-based: brain-dumping the stresses of the day in my bullet journal, and then a couple of chapters of whatever I’m reading.
2. Keep your phone out of your bedroom.
Though I do it myself – well, unless I’m caught up reminiscing about the 1990s and figuring out what the way I order a cheeseburger says about my personality – I’m not impressed by those lists that tell you to cut down on screen time before you go to bed. That, my friends, is amateur hour. I haven’t slept in the same room as my iPhone in 18 months.
Not impressed? Well, you’re clearly not one of the many people I have shared this with who have turned pale when I have told them. I charge my phone in the hall, where I can quickly glance at the time if I wake up to go to the loo, but otherwise: nope. No tweets. No Instragram notifications. No “just a quick check before I drift back off”. My alarm clock? My Fitbit’s vibrate function. It has been an absolute game-changer.
3. Invest in some decent bedding.
Guys, I was 35 years old before I stopped buying my pillows in Tesco. WHAT WAS I THINKING.
I invested a voucher I received from the St Enoch Centre (as part of their Colour Summer campaign, so they’re probably raging with me right now) in some designer bedsheets and luxury Snuggledown pillows in the Debenhams sale and they have been among the best purchases I have ever made.
Sure, the only thing worse than a lunatic who thinks she can pull off crisp, white hotel-style Ben de Lisi (who?) bedsheets is a lunatic with two cats, dyed green hair and a tendency to day-nap in full make-up, but doesn’t that look like a bed you want to crawl into right now? Oh, and just in case you think I’ve become the kind of person who would willingly spend fifty quid on a pair of pillows, even with a voucher – they were 50% off. And worth every penny.
4. Up your nightwear game.
I used to feel a bit guilty about having a whole drawer full of sleepwear. Then I met Charlotte.
Think about it, though: if you’re going to spend all that money on bedding, you might as well look the part – and there’s no better feeling in the world than putting on your comfiest PJs and slipping into crisp, freshly laundered bedsheets. My current favourites are my Pusheen nightshirt from Primark (forever kings of sleepwear) and my super-comfy tomboy trunks from TomboyX*.
And with that, I’m off for a nap…
This post contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.