Once upon a time I could happily curl into my bed (natural, sustainable cotton sheets of course ;)) and no matter what was on my mind, or how much I’d had to drink or eat I could pretty much guarantee that I’d be waking up refreshed and revitalised after a good 8 hours sleep. These days however I find this more and more of a challenge.
After I had my daughter my sleep pattern had struggled to return to normal. Although she was a reliable sleeper from around 12 weeks, it seemed to somehow flick a switch in me that has undermined the quality of my sleep ever since, as if subconsciously even now I am listening for her restlessness. To add to this I can guarantee that if I so much as glance at a glass of wine I am booking an appointment to be awake at 3am and to stay that way! It’s no fun and it’s a self-perpetuating cycle of becoming more and more anxious and more and more tired. For me the problem has never so much been the falling asleep – peek through my window at 9.45pm and I’m likely to be catching some cheeky Zzz’s snuggled on the sofa – it’s the staying asleep and the quality of the sleep, so not being one to head to the medicine cabinet before I’ve explored the natural options first, these are the things I’ve found that seem to be having the best results……
1. Cut Down Caffeine – I am a huge tea drinker and know from experience that caffeine most definitely disrupts my sleep pattern. Some advice states to not drink tea for up to 2-3 hours before bed time, but I would recommend going one step further. I have limited my tea with caffeine to 2 cups in the morning and my final caffeine tea at 3pm – this seems to be helping. To substitute my tea I have switched to Rooibos, which is naturally caffeine free and delicious. I like regular Tick Tock Organic Rooibos and Dragonfly also do some lovely flavours like Earl Grey Rooibos and Vanilla Rooibos. There are additional benefits to drinking Rooibos, it is naturally low in tannins and has a decent mineral content with some antioxidants and anti-inflammatories thrown in.
2. Valerian and Hops Tea – I cannot recommend this tea enough! I drink Dr Stuarts Valerian Plus tea 1 hour before bed and I am convinced it has enhanced the quality of my sleep. I have never struggled too much to fall asleep but since adding this tea to my every day routine I am convinced if I wake up in the night it is far easier to go back to sleep. I have tried several alternatives to this – all various combinations of supplements/tablets and teas but so far have found this to be the best.
3. A Meditation Phone App – I was reluctant to try this as I have always been pretty useless at Meditation – I love the idea and concept but I have too unruly a mind to get with the programme so I decided to try Doreen Virtues Chakra Cleansing App. Whilst it is not Meditation as such, I really find it useful. It shifts your focus to parts of your body and encourages you to visualise the light and colour of your Chakras – this gives my mind the focus it needs and creates a sense of calm and balance. If I find the time to do this when I get into bed (I take little ear phones and my phone with me!) then I find a better quality of sleep follows. There is also a Morning Chakra Cleansing – I haven’t done this yet but like the idea of beginning and ending the day with shiny Chakras.
4. Exercise – The dreaded exercise (for me anyway!) I am no Gym Bunny, but what has really helped my sleep pattern is to try and build in some regular exercise time. If I make the time just 3-4 times per week to get outside and walk for 45 minutes to 1 hour, I see benefits in my sleep, my body and my general wellbeing. No one ever felt depressed after a walk around a beautiful park in the fresh air, it does wonders to calm the mind and get things in perspective – I even have certain Trees I say hello too on my favourite walks – but that’s just me!
5. De-Stress – this needs a post to itself so will come back to this, but in the interest of sleep one of the simplest and most effective things I have found that really does work is the old ‘notepad by the side of the bed’ chestnut – I use my Notes section on my iPhone – but anything will do really just to get whatever it is whirring around your head at 1am in the morning out your head and in the world where it can do less harm!
6. Bach Flower Remedy – My lovely Mother swears by White Chestnut Bach Flower Remedy to calm the same above ‘whirring mind’ – I have never tried a Bach Remedy for sleeplessness but she says it is the best – just a few drops in some water before bedtime and then take it up to bed with you in case you need it in the night.
7. Finally – Lavender, Camomile and a beautiful bedroom – Just a few drops on my favourite pillow of these magical essential oils are enough to make the room and the environment calm and restful. I believe it is so important to have a bedroom you want to spend time in both awake and asleep, that’s comfortable, calming and fresh. Treat yourself to some lovely soft bed sheets or a beautiful picture that reminds you of holidays to wake up too. My bedrooms yellow because it reminds me of the bedroom in Rosemary’s Baby – nothing at all to do with the subject of the film I just adore the 60s interior and vibe and just knew one day I wanted a bedroom just like that! But then I say hello to Trees so what do I know! Happy sleeping everyone.