I’m probably one of the sleepiest girls you’ll ever meet. You’ll often find me yawning every 5 minutes or complaining about how tired I am to whoever will listen.
For years now, I’ve found it extremely difficult to fall asleep. It’s said that the average person takes about 7-14 minutes to fall asleep. For me, sometimes it takes hours. When I finally do get around to falling asleep, I found that I would toss and turn or wake quite easily. Mum always told me that I should just go to bed earlier, or stop watching movies till the early hours in the morning, but even after making an effort to sleep earlier, nothing changed.
It’s incredibly frustrating feeling like you’ve slept for a total of five minutes before a long work day, and sleep deprivation has so many negative effects on your body that it’s not funny. So I finally decided to do something about it and fix my sleeping patterns for good.
I’ve made a list below of things I’ve found to work for me to help me fall asleep/sleep better. I’ve personally tried all of these things so I’m talking from my own experience, and hope that some of these might work for my fellow night owls out there too who are struggling just like I was. I’d love to hear if any of these worked for you!
1. Turn off electronics
I know you’ve probably heard this before, but staring at your smartphone screen watching dog videos is NOT a good way to get yourself ready for bed. Too much light from a screen can affect your body’s melatonin production and send a message to your body that you’re not ready for sleep, which in turn, can mess with your sleep-wake cycles. Try and keep electronics out of the bedroom for at least an hour before you plan to go to sleep.
2. Use the bedtime feature on the iPhone
Do you ever plan to go to bed early one night and then the next thing you know it’s 3am you’ve watched the entire season of Stranger Things 2? The next morning you wake up feeling like you’ve been run over by a truck and are full of self-hatred towards your past self for prioritising a TV show over some much needed sleep. Yeah, that needs to stop.
Let’s rewind 20 years or so (or however many years ago you were a child) and get back into establishing a set bedtime for yourself. If you’re horrible at self-control and have an iPhone, use the ‘bedtime’ feature in the clock app. It helps you to try and set a consistent bedtime for yourself and tracks how much time you’ve spent in bed vs the amount of sleep you get.
3. Find something to wind down to
Whether it’s reading a book or listening to some music, opt for an activity that doesn’t require you staring at a screen (see point number 1).
My go-to method is listening to a podcast and setting the sleep timer for 15-30 minutes into the episode. Unlike me, try to listen to something mellow and not keep yourself up by listening to a Let’s Not Meet podcast (it’s really good FYI).
4. Get the right amount of sleep
We’ve always been told that 6-8 hours is the ideal amount of sleep for an adult to get to feel well rested. and to an extent, that is correct. However, I’ve definitely had nights where I’ve gotten 8+ hours of sleep and woken up still feeling groggy and unrested. The reason for this is because the quality of sleep I experienced was poor.
When we go to bed, we fluctuate between light and deep sleep. During light sleep, you can be easily awakened and might experience hypnic jerks (the feeling of falling) or muscle spasms. There are two stages of light sleep (1 and 2) and the older we get, the more time we spend in that stage as opposed to deep sleep.
Deep sleep is the kind of sleep you need to feel fully rested and for your body to repair itself. On average it takes about 70-90 minutes from when we fall asleep to drift into deep sleep, and about 90-120 minute to complete a sleep cycle. Adults need about 1.5-1.8 hours of deep sleep a night to feel rested.
A solution to this problem is the app ‘Sleepytime‘. The app works by suggesting a wake-up time based on 90-minute sleep cycles or tells you when to go to bed to experience a full night’s rest. This is ideal for a night where you’re getting less than 8 hours of sleep but want to feel as rested as possible.
Lavender is a miracle worker for helping you reach the land of Nod. Either add some lavender oil to a hot bath or spray a bit of lavender on your pillow and you’ll be drifting off to sleep in no time! Lavender is meant to induce deep sleep and calm the body. I’ve been using ‘Deep Sleep’ pillow spray by This Works which you can get from Mecca or ASOS as well as their website.
6. Track your sleeping patterns
If you’re curious as to how long it takes you to fall asleep or the quality of sleep you’re experiencing, look no further than the ‘Sleep Cycle‘ app.
This app is a bit more in-depth than the iOS bedtime app, as it analyses your movement in bed, how long it takes you to fall asleep and what stage of sleep you’re in. As a bonus, it wakes you up within a 30-minute window whilst you’re in a lighter stage of sleep to ensure you feel refreshed when you wake up.
7. Keep a notepad/journal beside your bed
Have you ever had that mini freakout when you’ve realised there’s something super important that you had to do tomorrow that’d you’d forgotten about until that exact moment?
Keep a notepad by your bedside to jot down any stray thoughts that cross your mind so that you don’t forget them. It’s also a good way to keep track of dreams you’ve had or simply to write down what’s keeping you up at night. Kikki K sells this dream journal if you want something cute.
8. Don’t eat too late
I love food. All I think about after my last meal is where the next one is going to come from. I’m definitely guilty of sneaking into the kitchen at odd hours of the night to smuggle a packet of Doritos back to bed with me.
But as tasty as a midnight snack might be, it means your body is going to be working to digest that food which means it’ll take longer to fall asleep. Not only that, but sleep deprivation slows down your metabolism, which can lead to weight gain.
9. Exercise during the day
Getting some physical activity into your day (preferably in the morning) is a great way to naturally tire out your body and have it ready for bed when that time rolls around. It also helps with your body’s recovery process to help you feel rejuvenated and ready to do it all again tomorrow.
10. Use a sleep mask
One thing that really worked for me is investing in a sleep mask to block out all light when I’m sleeping. Not only did it help me fall asleep quicker, but it also helped me sleep for longer by blocking out sun rays in the morning. Check out these ones from Cotton On!
11. Try ‘Sleepy‘ by Lush
There’s a reason why there’s so much hype around this product, it’s because it works! It took me a while to get my hands on (it’s sold out online), but when I stumbled upon it in my local Lush store, I knew I had to give it a go.
By simply applying a bit of the cream to under my eyes, my temples and wrists, I noticed a significant reduction in the amount of time it’d take me to fall asleep. Naturally, it contains lavender (of course) as well as Ylang Ylang oil and Tonka Absolute. It also has cocoa butter so it leaves your skin feeling nice and smooth which is a sweet little bonus!
I would love to hear any of your tips and tricks to help improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. Leave them in the comments below!
Until next time!
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