When I was younger I slept like a baby. Even when I was an actual baby. I was always in bed by 9pm, (meaning that I missed most of the interesting family incidents), and would sleep pretty solidly through the night until 7am. I would even go to the toilet without waking up, a fact my Grandad would testify to if he was still alive, me having walked in on him in the middle of the night, causing him to leap from the toilet just before I sat down on his lap.
And then I had a baby.
Goodbye sleep, so long good friend, I enjoyed our time together.
It’s not so much that Bee was a bad sleeper, she really wasn’t, but there is a special secret switch in your brain that gets flicked when you become a mother that means that from that point on you always sleep with one ear open, just in case.
And then Belle was born and I was well and truly screwed.
She has many charming qualities, but the ability to sleep for longer than 40 minutes at a time until the age of about four was not one of them.
And so here I am, left with an annoying and yet fairly impressive ability to guess the time at any moment to within about eight minutes, so aware am I of the passing of time throughout the night. Impressive maybe, but not hugely restful.
Over the years I’ve tried various techniques to help me sleep, some more successfully than others, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying extra hard with the help of some goodies from Pukka Herbs. Here are my top tips:
No one particularly wants to go to bed at 10pm and get up at 7am at the weekends but if you can at least try and keep to vaguely the same sleep pattern it really does help. Note to self: binge watching the first series of Broadchurch and accidentally staying up until 4.30am it not helpful.
If you find you have all kinds of crazy thoughts going around your head just before bed then you might find it helpful to try listening to relaxing music or a CD or podcast especially designed to help you sleep. Ten minutes spent meditating or practising mindfulness techniques can also be very powerful.
Just be wary of this sort of thing:
Say no to caffeine
Whatever you do, don’t think it’s a fun idea to have a coffee in the evening. This is never a fun idea if you want to be able to sleep well. Even tea has a considerable amount of caffeine in, so try switching to decaf or to a tea that’s been created with sleep in mind like Pukka’s night time tea.
I found this really helpful, not least because of the ritualistic side of things. As parents we know how important a bedtime routine is for babies, yet how often do we think to apply the same rules to ourselves? Creating rituals around bedtime, like making a mug of night time tea, helps your body know that sleep is on its way and triggers feelings of sleepiness.
Take a supplement
I find sleep supplements really useful too, and the Pukka one was no exception. I don’t know how much of it is the supplement itself and how much is the placebo effect and the bedtime routine, but I certainly haven’t been having any trouble at least with the falling asleep part of the night.
Boyfriend: “Shall I read to you?”
Me: “Yes please darling, that would be *SNORE*”
Empty your head
If the whirring of your brain keeps you awake at night, try some free writing before you go to sleep where you just let the pen flow without thinking too much about what’s coming out – literally just get a pen and paper and write down whatever pops into your head, no matter how stupid it sounds.
I find this technique really helpful first thing in the morning too if I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the thought of the day ahead and it can be useful too to keep a notebook by the side of the bed if you’re the sort of person who wakes up in the night, mind spinning with thoughts and ideas.
Go screen free
I cannot overstate how important this is for a good night’s sleep. Absolutely do not allow phones and other devices into the bedroom. That means no casual checking of Twitter as you lie in bed, no falling asleep to iPlayer, nothing. It is just so disruptive. Even watching the television or using the phone in the hour or so before bed has been shown to have a negative impact on sleep, so switch off as early as you can.
We’ve imposed a ban on all electronic devices from the bedroom and I love it – it means you spend much more time talking to your partner too as well as getting a better night’s sleep.
What are your top sleep tips?
Disclosure – I was sent some tea, a lovely mug, a notebook, a jar of sleep supplements and some lavender by Pukka Herbs to help my sleep. All opinions are my own.