We’ve all been there – wide awake in the middle of the night staring at the ceiling wondering WHY/HOW we’re not exhausted and sleeping peacefully at that hour. I experienced how the effects of sleep deprivation can totally alter your life when I was struggling with insomnia in college. And you guys, I’m not talking a couple of late nights during the week.. the sleep doctors at school tried every sleeping drug in the cabinet and nothing was working. I had a freakin ‘sleep counselor’, it was not good. Getting enough sleep is equally as important as eating well and exercising. And let me tell you, beauty-sleep is a real thing girls. Poor sleep is linked to weight-gain, dull appearance, lack of concentration, anxiety, depression, poor immune function, lack of creativity, memory loss… it’s SO important.
For those of you who can fall asleep the second you see the inside of your eyelids, lucky you – do not take that blessing for granted! But for the people whose minds feel the need to solve every stressful situation in their head at 3:00 AM, here are a few tips to get your sleep back on track:
Sleepwear by Marks & Spencer:
CREATE A RELAXING SLEEP ENVIRONMENT:
-Silky sheets that keep your body cool at night (just got these with a personalized ‘O’, I love them!) and an extra blanket like my cotton + silk blend quilt to adjust to your body’s changing temperature during the night.
-A soft mattress made of adaptive foam that provides pressure relief and evenly distributes your body weight (I sleep on a Tuft + Needle mattress that’s amazing – it even helped my lower back pain from years of cheerleading – so athletes, you need to look into this!).
-Keep it dark! Use an eye mask and dark shades to keep out all light. And sleep with a fan on for some calming ‘white-noise’.
SET A SLEEP SCHEDULE
When I was seeing the ‘sleep doctor’ this was the most important tip he gave me – go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. And for the nights when you can’t fall asleep until early morning, force yourself to wake up at the same time. A regular sleep routine keeps your biological clock steady so you rest better. Remember, our bodies thrive on routine.
RESERVE YOUR BED SLEEP ONLY!
The bed is for sleep only (and the other s-word obviously) – I’ve heard that this is the cardinal rule of good sleep hygiene. I am guilty of sitting in bed and answering e-mails, which is a habit I’ve been trying to break lately. Charge your phone on the floor – don’t check it during the night. Don’t watch tv in bed. My doctor told me that you can train your body to instantly get sleepy when entering your bed at night by following this rule.
HOT TEA & A GOOD BOOK
There’s something inherently calming about a warm drink before bed, even if it’s just the idea that it’s calming. I drink herbal teas made from chamomile that has a calming effect (while lavender tea reduces stress). Just like you’ve heard how warm milk makes you feel sleepy, the same kind of effect happens with tea at night: a bit of a placebo affect combined with a relaxing routine. If I can’t sleep, reading always helps (I’m reading this right now and I love it).
CLEAR YOUR MIND
At the end of the day I have a million things running through my head and stresses about the next day already creeping in. Every night I write down in my planner all the things I need to get done the next day. This helps me turn it off for that day knowing I have a plan to get things taken care of when I wake up. Also, it can be therapeutic to go over what happened that day in head – this is part of the way I say my prayers at night, by just going through the day-to-day things that I’m so thankful for!
Physical activity during the day improves sleep quality and duration. Working out also reduces stress and tires you out – which both make for a better night’s rest. Working out early in the morning can help reset the sleep wake cycle which in turn triggers sleepiness a few hours later. BUT, don’t exercise too late at night – that can have the opposite effect on your sleep.
CLEAN YOUR ROOM + MAKE YOUR BED
Results from a survey commissioned by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggest that people sleep much better when their bedrooms are comfortable and clean – and I completely agree. If you’ve ever gone to bed with a messy room, there’s a good chance it messed with your sleep. Take a few minutes before bed to clean up – you’ll fall asleep knowing you can start the following day in a clean space. Also, clean sheets!!
DONT STRESS ABOUT NOT SLEEPING
It’s a vicious cycle people. Train your mind to not worry if you aren’t getting the right amount of sleep. If you start obsessing over the number of hours you’re getting, this can make it even harder to fall asleep. In order distract your mind, you need to deal with any stress and anxiety in your life, learn how to calm your mind before bed, and follow the suggestions above. The more you worry, the worse it gets.
I hope these tips can help improve the quality of your sleep and get you back on track. Believe me, I understand your pain if you’re having trouble – it’s THE WORST. Thanks for reading, sweet dreams! 🙂
Photography by Sed Bona
Thank you to Marks & Spencer for sponsoring this post. All ideas & opinions are my own.