Lifestyle: The Art of Sleeping Well

Sleep is something which, in phases, evades me. Most of the time I’m a pretty good sleeper. I can drift off within half an hour of so, and generally stay asleep most of the night. I’m a tad grumpy if I don’t get 7-8 hours a night, so it’s best for all those around me! That said, the stress of the last few months have meant my sleep has been disrupted.

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I’ll still fall asleep easily, but then I’ll be up and awake a few hours later. Still exhausted, but too many thoughts rushing around my mind to drop back off again. And that will be it, until around an hour before my alarm is due. I’ll listen to the planes starting to land at Heathrow again and know that I’ll feel dreadful in the morning. This will go on for a few weeks, myself getting more and more grumpy and irritable, then it will suddenly stop. I’ll go back to sleeping through. Peace will be restored.

I like to claim that my general good sleep can be credited to a decent bedtime routine. That said, with my recent stint of dreadful nights spent tossing and turning, I’ve switched things up a bit. Thankfully I’m back to *just about* sleeping properly, though the hot and muggy nights aren’t helping!

A Good Bed

Oh, this is key! I very rarely have a good nights sleep in a non-comfy bed – and as I’m quite particular that’s a bit of an issue. I like quite a firm mattress, nothing soft at all. I hate too thick-duvets. I’m one of those people who likes to have a summer weight duvet (say around 4.5tog) then a slightly thicker one for winter. And it can’t be higher than my neck.

I’ve been lucky so far in that all my university rooms and rental places have had fairly decent mattresses. In fact, the one in our current flat is almost too firm for me. I’m not entirely lying when I say the floor might be softer… We recently received an Eve Mattress Topper* and it’s shared the bed entirely. The mattress is still firm, but there’s now a supportive layer to sink into. It’s made getting up in the morning VERY difficult! I’m so, so gutted that we’re moving to a flat with a different sized bed now…
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Wind-Down Time

There’s no point me typing up a blog post, or watching an exciting TV drama (how gripping was Three Girls?!) and then trying to get straight off to the land of nod. It just won’t work. My brain will be too fired up and I’ll be up for hours with my mind racing. Better is to spend half an hour really getting ready for bed. I’ll light a candle, put on my fairy lights (I have a cheap-y Primark set wrapped around the ladder shelves that W built for me) and read a book.

Having said that, I’ve recently had to change the style of books I’m reading – turns out gripping psychological-thrillers aren’t conducive to a good night’s sleep!

Washing Before Bed

Linked in with wind-down time, I like to wash before bed. I actually shower in the evening, when I get home from work – I find this works best as I don’t have to rush, my hair is fully dry before sleeping, and (more selfishly) there’s a full tank of hot water! However I do like to redo my face before bed, washing with water (I’ll take my makeup off earlier) and moisturising. Obviously if it’s been a particularly warm evening I’ll also wash other more personal areas too!

My bed is so cosy this morning. If I am late for work I am blaming @sleepypeopleuk!

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Sleep Inducing Smells

Obviously lavender is high on the list for most people, but for me this breaks me out into insanely angry acne – it’s the worst thing for my skin! Instead one of my ‘sleepy’ smells is the Bodyshop’s Argan range. I find it so soothing and calming! I keep the Solid Oil by my bedside and apply a little to my wrists if I’m feeling particularly stressed. It’s also great rubbed into my nails and the ends of my hair!

Another one is malty, milky drinks. A favourite is warm milk with honey but, as I don’t have a microwave (and heating milk in a pan is a faff) I do like a mug of Horlicks made with boiling water and topped with plenty of milk. Of course, I’d prefer a hot chocolate but I’ve got to make some kind of an attempt at gaining a summer bod right…?

Cutting Out Sugar & Caffeine

This is something I really need to do – I’ve managed to cut down my cuppa addiction over the last few years, but since January my sugar habit has gone through the roof. I’ve used some difficult personal times as an excuse but now I’m craving sugar constantly and I’m pretty sure it’s affecting my sleep. I’ll keep you posted on how cutting down helps!

What do you do to make sure you get a good night’s sleep?

Lifestyle: A Good Nights Sleep

Sleeping is one of the things I’m not particularly good at. I’ve often struggled to drop off, spent the middle section of the night tossing and turning, waking up more tired than before I went to bed.

 photo 2015-08-11 18.42.54_zpsr9cxqlep.jpg photo A Good Nights Sleep1_zps6pclr4ha.jpgSince starting final year in September I’ve been determined to improve my sleep; I’m not going to let lack of sleep get in the way of getting what I want out of university. Pretty good timing really, as Silentnight recently got in touch encouraging a more mindful approach to sleep. They sent over a big box of goodies including this rather scary looking hippo (?!). Can’t say I’d want to drift off with that next to me…

 photo A Good Nights Sleep3_zpsxovetuvo.jpg photo A Good Nights Sleep5_zps2jxrmyoh.jpgThey are trying to encourage the ideas behind writing down and interpreting dreams – something that if I’m honest hasn’t really worked for me. I rarely remember what I dream! Other than being stuck in an Excel spreadsheet or battling with equations when I’ve been working too late into the night…

So whilst I haven’t really gotten the main benefit of the box, it’s definitely helped me sort out some of the bad habits I’ve gotten into. Here’s how I’ve slipped into a better sleeping routine – I’m getting around an extra two hours a night now which is so much better than a few months ago!

Bed is for Relaxing

I used to have the really bad habit of studying on my bed, blogging in bed, basically doing everything in my room. Last year it was the only living space I had, but when I was studying I had no differential between study and sleep. By keeping study outside of my bedroom (not difficult when my room is so small!) I’ve found it much easier to drift off to sleep.
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Warm Drinks Help

Avoiding coffee and tea of course, but hot drinks definitely help me drift off. I’ve been alternating between caffeine-free nighttime tea and fruit blends – Mango & Cinnamon is my favourite, but Twinings have been kind enough to discontinue it!

Fresh Linen

Is there anything better than slipping into a nicely made bed with freshly washed sheets?! I do miss having a cleaner who would iron them for me (the benefits of paying such an extortionate amount for our London flat!) but it’s still so relaxing to have fresh bedding. A bit of pillow spray finishes it all off nicely – though I use this on my curtains as anything lavender makes me break out horrendously!

Read not Watch

There’s nothing worse than sitting on a screen illuminating your room as you try to drift off. I’ve been making an effort to avoid watching or reading anything on my phone, but instead reading a chapter or two on my Kindle. Only thing is I’m so easily hooked into books so I can keep on reading for far longer than I should…
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Reflect on your Day

Spending a minute or two writing in my One Line A Day diary is something I need to take up again, but what I do try and do is think about my day, write a to-do list for the next (so I don’t lie and think about what I need to do) and generally just think happy thoughts. It ends my day on a good note, always important!

Following these steps have really helped me – they aren’t huge changes but I’m definitely feeling a little better. If only my dark circles would start to fade…

How do you make sure you get a good night’s sleep?