Ever since I was about sixteen, I’ve had trouble sleeping. A sleeping pattern to me is being exhausted all day then wide awake all night. Every single Christmas I’m asking Santa for a reasonable bedtime – you know, a bedtime where I fall asleep at, not just a bedtime to crawl into bed and stare at the ceiling for hours until the sun comes up. And I know I’m not the only one with this problem. So I thought I’d compile a few tips and tricks I’ve learnt over the years to help me sleep.
Before I start, I thought I’d just mention that I am in no way an expert in sleep, nor have I had any education to do with sleep. These are merely things that I do that help me get to sleep. I am not saying they will work for you and if you do suffer with insomnia, you should go see a GP for advice rather than relying on the internet.
During the day
Before I even think about sleeping, I always do preparation for a good night’s sleep. This can take a couple of hours so I seem to do this on the weekend or when I have a few hours free during the week.
Firstly, I wash my bedding. Nothing beats getting into a freshly made bed with bedding that has just recently been through the wash and tumble drier with my favourite fabric conditioner. So I make sure my bed is all fresh and ready for me to jump into it that night.
Then, usually whilst the bedding is in the wash, I straighten up my bedroom and give it a quick run round with the hoover to make sure it’s clean and tidy. I’m not exactly a messy person – the only mess I do have in my room is clothes strewn across my floor – so it doesn’t generally take me long to do.
I find that having fresh bedding and tidy surroundings puts me in the right frame of mind for a full, refreshing night of sleep.
Once my bedroom is all prepared, it’s time for me to get prepared..
I run myself a red hot (well, not red hot.. just a perfectly hot..) bubble bath and drop of eucalyptus oils into the running water. Eucalyptus just seems to be one of those scents that relaxes me instantly. I guess that’s because whenever I smell it, I just seem to think of fields and countryside walks which makes all my worries and stresses float away.
As the bath is running, I get fresh pyjamas out of my drawers and put them over the radiator, especially if it’s one of them cold, drizzly winter evenings.
Just before climbing into the bath, I make a cup of tea and start playing my favourite album on my phone or iPad via Apple Music (at the moment it’s Kodaline’s In A Perfect World). I even add some more lavender oil and bath salts to the bath, just to make sure I am extra relaxed.
Since I normally have my bath straight before bed, I’m usually fully unwounded and relaxed by this point. Once getting into my pyjamas and heading into my bedroom, I sit at my dressing table, dry my hair and tie it up so it’s out of my face. I then pop on a face mask, clamber into bed and do a bit of reading.
I leave the mask on for about 20 minutes then wash it off, brush my teeth and get back into bed, turning the light off.
There are several things I do to help me fall asleep:
- Breathe in for a count of ten, hold your breath for a count of ten, breathe out for a count of ten, hold your breath for a count of ten, repeat..
- Lie as still as possible and resist any temptation to move
- Dream of happy situations (e.g. meeting your idol, spending time with your friends, anything that makes you happy)
- Make lists in your head of things you want to do or places you want to go
- Recreate your favourite movies in your head
If you still can’t sleep
If you’re still lying awake after what feels like forever, there is two things you shouldn’t do: turn the lights on or look at your phone. These will make you feel more awake and alert and won’t help you fall asleep at all.
Whenever I am having restless nights, I have a few little things I do depending on why I can’t sleep..
If it’s too noisy (or too quiet)..
After living in the city, I’ve got used to some noise so I sometimes find that being back home is too silent, meaning it’s impossible for me to fall asleep. Don’t get me wrong, I love peace and quiet, but sometimes it gets so silent that I feel like I can hear my blood flowing (if that doesn’t sound weird). So if this happens, I whack on a boring film or a tv series that I’ve seen millions of times before.
If I’m uncomfortable..
You’ve all had those nights where you’re tossing and turning, finding it impossible to get into a right position to fall asleep in. Whenever I have them nights and I’ve reached the end of my tether, I get out of bed and remake my bed. I’m not on about taking off every bit of bedding, washing it and putting it back on. Just simply straightening out my duvet and rearranging the pillows does the trick. Lifting the duvet in the air also helps get air ventilation into the bed, making it refreshed.
I also find that something as simple as cracking the window open to let some fresh air into my bedroom helps me settle for the night.
If I’m worrying..
Worrying is probably the main reason for not being able to sleep. Overthinking too. So whenever I worry or overthink to the point that I’m finding it impossible to fall asleep, I write down everything into a little notepad I keep at my bedside. This way, I get all my thoughts out of my head and it helps to put a little perspective into my thoughts. It also helps by knowing that I can tackle with those worries the following morning when I wake up after a night of sleep!
I usually find the following morning that whatever I’ve been worrying about was so trivial that it’s hilarious.
And if I’m still wide awake..
Hours upon hours have passed by and I’m still laying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, counting sheep. There’s only so many attempts I can have before I get bored and even more restless so I do give up sometimes.
If I do give up, I either sit and read a book until I feel tired or go for a moonlit (or sunrise) walk around my area until I begin to feel sleepy. And if these don’t work, I sit and write a blog post, like I’m doing now until I feel my eyes getting heavier and begin yawning my little head off!
What do you guys do when you can’t sleep? Have you got any tricks or tips to help fellow insomniacs get a bit of shut-eye?