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.
I’m meant to be heading out to Spain in March for one of my good friends’ weddings. I’m really excited about this, not just because I get to see her get married, but also because I haven’t actually left the UK in over four years. The last holiday I had was to the incredible island of Ibiza, one of my favourite places in the whole world…and not long after my return home I discovered I was going to have a small person, and things were never quite the same again.
So, in preparation for the first trip abroad in too long, I’m taking a look back at my favourite Balearic island and just why I love it there so much. If you haven’t been yet, you need to go. Seriously. Ibiza is an unbelievable destination.
|Look at it|
It’s not all about raving and getting hammered
Don’t get me wrong, a large chunk of Ibiza life is about the seemingly endless summer of partying, hedonism and dance. I’ve only been to the island twice; once during the summer season when everything is crowded, crazy and undeniably awesome, and once during the quieter season when everything is peaceful and equally awesome.
Both are brilliant experiences in their own way.
One of the things you really do need to consider if you’re planning an Ibiza trip during the summer season is that it is insanely hot. I’m not just talking your standard Mediterranean heat either, it’s an Ibiza-style heat all of it’s own. That extra special humid as hell, stuck to your own bed kind of hot. Personally, I’d recommend going in either early July or maybe even early September. I went with one of my best friends in the August one year, and it was scorching. I mean, I’m pale and ginger, so I knew it was going to be hot, but the humidity was something I honestly didn’t bargain on. RIP my hair.
That said, if you go in the summertime, you won’t regret it. It’s an amazing time to be there and see all the wild, colourful and exciting sights. The party atmosphere in the streets is palpable and the chilled out, friendly vibe of all those who flock there is something else altogether. Nightlife in Ibiza is amazing, as you’d expect, but a word of warning – if you’re thinking of paying a visit to one of the world famous clubs, make sure you’ve stocked up on your euros, because those nights out you’ve dreamed of a la Kevin and Perry really aren’t cheap. We went to Manumission (for one of the weirdest and most fun evenings I’ve ever witnessed in my adult life) one night, and it pretty much cleared us both out completely.
Chilled out days and party nights are the done thing for a summer trip to Ibiza. However, If you go in the calmer months of the year, the whole island is much more relaxed. It’s gorgeous – beautiful beaches and laid back adventures around the island. Hire yourself a car and you can visit all the best bits over the course of your stay. Ibiza Town is beautiful and very eclectic – think slick boutiques selling quirky raver clothes, open-fronted jewellery stores and hippy-boho chic fashions aplenty.
I came back the first with harem pants, a floating tunic dress and a headscarf. To be honest, I have no idea how I didn’t end up with dreadlocks and a tattoo. The place is that cool you can’t help but get sucked into the feel of the place. Needless to say the harem pants are in a drawer upstairs somewhere now, but man those things are comfy. Damned English weather, ruining my style evolution.
Food & Accommodation
Spanish food is my favourite kind of cuisine in general. I think I spent almost the entirety of my last trip to Ibiza face down in bowls of olives and rolling around in endless slices of tortilla. I should have really guessed I was pregnant at that point, but nope, I just thought I was being a greedy cow as per usual.
*note to self, always do pregnancy test if sudden compulsion to constantly eat olives hits hard.
|Disco ball in the garden, because Ibiza.|
I’d absolutely recommend renting a villa or holiday home over there, especially if you’re going to hire a car as well. It just makes so much more sense to be able to come and go as you please, and most of the villas you can rent in Ibiza have WiFi and Sky TV, so you don’t even have to miss out on your soaps, if you’re concerned about that.
That’s possibly the most middle aged sentence I’ve ever said. Wow.
Get yourself there, ok?
Basically, this gorgeous Balearic island is one of my favourite places to visit, and I’m ridiculously choosy about travel. If you’re thinking about booking somewhere up now, I’d definitely recommend you check out some Ibiza deals – it’s actually a great choice for families and isn’t just all about wild nights and crazed partying. There are loads of other parts to the island that you can discover by car, and I’m saving up for my next trip there already.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before I can get back to Ibiza again – turns out the sunshine really does make everything better.
Writer, tweeter and illustrator. Starving artist and thrifting expert. Pen for hire and first-time author at work.