I’m decluttering. Properly. I’m writing this post after week one of what I’m calling ‘Operation Declutter’. Those of you who know the real me will know that this isn’t something I’m doing lightly. Clutter has genuinely become a real problem in my life. I […]
Thrifting. Who doesn’t need to know about the subtle art of thrifting, really? I know I do. You don’t need me to tell you about the pinch most of us are feeling nowadays. Money’s tighter than Mick Hucknall ever dared to mention, especially if, […]
How messy is your sleep routine? No, not your bedroom. I’m talking about your actual sleep routine. Have you got one? Have you even thought about this before? If I had a tenner for the amount of people who are always tired, I’d be Alan Sugar. Now, I’ve got an excuse (more on that later) for being consistently exhausted – but do you? If not, maybe it’s time to have a long hard look at your sleep routine, and try out my 5 ways to tidy it up a bit.
Sleep routines are for kids. I’m an adult.
Yes. Yes you are. An adult who’s probably completely run-down every day from a life of constant work-based, life-based stress. An adult who more than likely stays up way too late watching pointless documentaries on 90s’s love triangles, Gavin and Stacey repeats on Dave and only mildly amusing re-runs of 8 Out of 10 Cats.
You also fall asleep on the sofa watching said TV bilge and then wake up in a small but disgusting puddle of your own drool at 3am, don’t you?
Sleep routines are for kids. They exist for a reason…but that reason is valid for adults too. We neglect our sleep health as soon as we can. It’s the one routine that almost all of us forget to take care of. And yet, it’s the one routine that can make the biggest difference to our health and wellbeing. Most adults need at least six to nine hours sleep a night, and many of us just aren’t getting that on a consistent enough basis.
When I was first diagnosed with narcolepsy, I had to work so hard to reset my clock and actually cultivate a sleep routine. It’s all gone to pot in recent years, I’ll be honest, but it genuinely made such a difference to my life when I stuck to it. I felt awake. Actually awake, and not just dragging my battered carcass through each day until Dave o’clock.
When was the last time you felt truly awake?
If you fancy giving it a whirl, here’s 5 ways you can get started with cleaning up your sleep hygiene. That’s what it’s called, by the way, I didn’t make that up.
1. Ditch the TV.
I know. WHAT ABOUT GAVIN AND STACEY?!
Look, you’ve seen them about 400 times. You can recite the ‘2 steaks Pam’ routine with your fingers in your ears and still do the Essex accent to boot. You look fabulous, and you feels it, alright?
Turn the television off at least an hour before you go to bed. It’s the same thing that you’d do with the kids, and it does actually work. Your brain needs wind-down time, especially with the level of mental and online processing it does on a daily basis.
Use this TV-free time to relax, have a bath or do something relatively concentration-free to help your brain tell your body that it’s time to switch off.
2. No caffeine after 3pm.
I know. This one was a much bigger one for me to combat that I realised. I used to drink about ten cups of tea a day. This was before I knew I had a sleep condition, and just thought I really loved PG Tips. Crafty old brain. Basically though, you can’t expect your brain to chill out for bed properly if it’s wired off it’s neurological tits with caffeine, nicotine or sugar.
The hormone that tells your brain it’s night-time and time to wind down is called melatonin. Foods that contain an amino acid called tryptophan boost the production of melatonin and therefore induce a better quality of sleep.
Things to eat and drink that can help relaxation and promote sleepiness are:
- tryptophan-rich proteins such as chicken, turkey, nuts and seeds
- milk and dairy products which also contain tryptophan
- decaf (horrible I know) tea or coffee if you have to drink it
Make sure you’re not eating a massive dinner just before you plan to go to bed either. Digesting it will push your body temperature up and delay your brain’s ability to start the sleep process, plus you’ll feel really uncomfortable trying to sleep on it straight away.
My advice on this point is to try and reduce your caffeine intake gradually. It’s not easy, but it is achievable!
3. Pick a bedtime and stick to it. No deviating.
Again, this is a tough one. I had to train myself to be in bed and actually asleep by 10pm. Also this was in the pre-child days, so much, much easier. However, if you’ve got one that’s in a fairly stable nighttime pattern now, you can give it a whirl. I used to start my wind-down at 9pm and then be in bed, on my way to falling asleep by 10pm. To begin with it was incredibly hard work, but after a while I started to wake naturally at 7am.
Without the alarm clock.
You know that when you’re waking up before your alarm goes off, and you don’t feel like actual death on toast, then something is going right somewhere.
It’s not easy, and temptations to work, catch up on emails or mess about on Facebook will always be there, but trust me, this one really does reap it’s own rewards. I need to start doing it again myself.
4. De-stress your bedroom.
You might not realise it, but your bedroom might be causing you more than your fair share of bad dreams. According to sleep specialists, your bedroom should be used for two things only; sleep and sex. As an aside, a moment of passion is one of the other things that can induce quality sleep, so that’s one to just make a side note of and file under FYI for later.
Your room needs to be quiet, dark, tidy and a cool temperature. Most importantly, it should be free of any electronics. My room has a bed, a chair and a chest of drawers in it. That’s it. No TV, no gadgets, literally nothing else. If you’ve got a television in your room, get rid of it. It could be playing major havoc with your brain’s ability to properly switch off.
Trust me on this, it makes a big difference.
5. Don’t fixate on a magic cure.
If you’ve got any sleep issues, like me, then it’s really important to know that they’ll take time to sort out. It’s never going to be as easy as following a list of tips and tricks to magic away insomnia or eye bags.
Proper cleaning up of your sleep routine takes time and perserverance, but also a pinch of salt. It’s important to take your sleep cycle seriously – not enough of us really consider the long term implications of poor sleep and the constant mental stimulation we all endure thanks to our tech-heavy lifestyles.
However, it’s not something to fixate on if it doesn’t all go to plan straightaway. You’re not going to definitely develop Alzheimer’s just because you’re using your iPad before bed each night! Like everything else in life, it’s about moderation and evaluation.
I hope you’ve found some of this helpful and that if you’ve been looking into your own sleep issues at all it provides a bit of food for thought. If you’ve got any questions about sleep disorders, sleep hygiene or narcolepsy, feel free to pop them in the comments below or drop me a tweet over on Twitter.
Anyway, I’m off to watch a bit of Dave. Sweet dreams.
Writer, tweeter and illustrator. Starving artist and thrifting expert. Pen for hire and first-time author at work.
Jobs For The Girls
I was talking to my child the other day about life, friends and anything in between when she decided to ask me a question about work, or ‘workies’ as she likes to call it. The conversation took a sharp left turn that I really was not expecting.
“Mammy, why do grown ups have to go out to do workies?”
“Well, because grown ups do jobs for other people and places and in return they get given money, so that they can buy food and pay for things that they need.”
“But why do they need to have monies for things?”
“Because we can’t just take things without paying for them, that would be stealing and we need to buy the things we need to live. That’s just how it all works.”
“Well….you don’t go out to do work, you just work at your computer and at your drawings…you don’t have a boss.”
“No, but I work for myself, everyone’s work is different.”
“Do people not like going to their workies? Is it hard?”
“Sometimes, but some people really like what they do – we try to choose work that we want to do and that we like doing.”
Observational chuckles aside, it made me realise that my daughter understands the concept of working for a living fairly well for a preschooler. But what she said next really surprised me. I asked her:
“What do you think you’d like to do for workies when you’re grown up?”“I dunno…what workies there are…”“Well, you could do lots of things – you could be a dancer, an artist, or a doctor, a dentist, or you could be in the police or a firefighter-““No I can’t Mammy, they’re boy jobs!”“What? No they’re not-““They are, they’re just jobs for boys.”
I was shocked. Really. I’ve never mentioned or referred to job roles in a gender-specific or stereotypical way, so to hear her come out with this was really jarring to me. I have no idea how or where she’s digested the notion that only boys can be policemen and firemen or doctors. It baffles and worries me, and speaks volumes of the cultural underpinning of workplace stereotypes that we obviously still fucking have in this world. My daughter seemed so resigned to this fact that I was genuinely stunned for a minute.
Needless to say I informed her that girls could absolutely do those jobs, and often do. I made a point of showing her examples of policewomen, female doctors on TV shows, video clips of female firefighters and women working in engineering and manufacturing. It really fucking bothered me that she would believe that without question, especially as I’ve always worked hard to ensure she feels able to access any opportunity she wants to. Why did she think like this?
The one saving grace that eased my mind is her attitude towards sport. My daughter loves to be active (sometimes too active for my liking) and seems to really enjoy being outdoors, whatever the weather. We both play rugby, and not once has she ever asked me why girls are playing a ‘boy’s’ game. Surprising really, and a testament to the power of the sport that it’s made such an impact on inclusion, whereas it seems the mainstream world of work yet has not.
It makes me sad to think that in 2018, there are still children growing up with these beliefs, and its our job to make sure that these beliefs do not go unchallenged. I don’t want my child thinking that there are things she cannot do because she’s a girl – that’s all kinds of wrong. Regardless of how backwards our society might be travelling, I refuse to allow my daughter to feel limited at the age of four. No chance.
Our girls should never feel limited, women have worked far too hard for too long for this perpetual mantra of ‘jobs for the boys’ to remain the norm. I won’t have it.
After much discussion, I decided to ask her for her thoughts once more:
“So what do you think you’d like to do when you’re a grown-up – and remember, it can be anything you like.”“Well…can you do rugby as a job? I think I’ll just do that.”“Of course you can. If that’s what you want to do, you can.”
Of course she can. Yes she fucking can. We need to start looking to our world’s representation of women even more than ever before, and challenging the stereotypes we see. Yes, progress has been made, but clearly – it’s not enough.
There’s more to be done to ensure our children accept and understand workplace equality, to ensure our daughters feel that they are able to access whatever work they might like to do as adults. We need to work together to achieve that.
These are our jobs for the girls.
Writer, tweeter and illustrator. Starving artist and thrifting expert. Pen for hire and first-time author at work.