Make a list!

Life is good : ) So far, this summer has been filled with weddings, hen parties, 30th birthday afternoon teas and catching up with lovely friends. And with more fun times ahead – more weddings, more birthday celebrations and (oh yes!) wedding dress shopping – I can see that this summer is going to be a good one.

Whilst having extra fun stuff in the diary is just great, having a crazier schedule than usual does mean that there’s less time for everything else – and that can start to feel overwhelming and stressful at times. And we all know that stress mixed with anxiety and panic is not a good recipe for top quality sleep. Who hasn’t been awake in the early hours worrying about how they’re going to fit it all in – or maybe that’s just me!

I’ve established a really good habit of list-writing that really helps me when my life is especially full. I love list-writing, especially when I get to tick things off – there’s such a sense of achievement in striking off your to-dos because they’ve been done! Making a list is also great for calming the mind. Once I’ve written something on my list, I can stop dwelling on it, forget about it for awhile and move on to something else.

List-writing is ideal for clearing my mind before I hit the sack as it prevents thoughts and problems from keeping my mind active when I should be sleeping.

It’s also a good idea to keep a notepad and pen by your bed at night – then if you do wake in the night with something extra to add to your to-do list, or the solution to something that’s been bothering you, you can jot it down and go back to sleep.

I’m a big fan of keeping my pretty Liberty notebook at my bedside!

What about you? What are your sleep tips when life becomes hectic?

Amy x

Can’t sleep? It’s not just you…

Just a quick note today folks. If you struggled to sleep last night, I’m here to tell you that you’re not the only one. Even when you’re committed to making healthy sleep choices (that’s me) and you have a wealth of sleep-inducing goodies at your fingertips (me again), sometimes sleep does not come easily.

Sometimes, there seems to be no rhyme nor reason for the sleeplessness. Not this time. This time I can pinpoint the problem exactly – fear! Ever since Monday afternoon when I saw a big, fat rat skipping across the patio right outside my back door, I haven’t been able to enjoy a good night’s sleep. I imagine him and his ratty family scurrying around my house at night, I listen for the sounds of ratty footsteps, I think I can smell the rat….Eeek! Or should that be squeeeeaaaak?! (Sorry!)

Maybe if I wish hard enough he will go away and leave me in peace.

Wishing you all a lovely and rat-free weekend, Amy x

Time for a change of alarm clock?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, and it feels good to finally share this little rant!

It is my other half who has the problem. But, as with most things, I end up sharing it! I’m talking about the alarm on his Nokia mobile phone. Aside from the fact that it forces us to get up when we’d rather stay in bed, it has the particularly unwelcome feature of displaying the time remaining before the alarm sounds.

So, every night, just as we’re ready to slip off into sleep, my other half sleepily sets his morning alarm and – bam! – he’s wide awake again because now he knows that he has only 7 hours 22 minutes (and counting) until it’s time to get up. Which, of course, he then kindly reports to me, along with a raft of expletives.

I agree; it is a bizarre and unpleasant feature that creates stress at bedtime. Knowing the limited time you have to sleep really does not help the mind to relax and switch off. Instead, you’re alerted to the fact that you really must fall asleep right now, which stimulates feelings of anxiety rather than calm.

Why anyone would want this tool is beyond me. So, Nokia, if you’re reading – please explain yourself!

 

“A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow”

“A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow” ~ Charlotte Brontë

I don’t think I was alone in feeling a tad panicky in the run up to Christmas. As I mentioned in my last post, my other half and I hosted Christmas for the first time. Whilst a lot of fun, the preparations – the decorations, the present-buying, the wrapping, the cooking, not to mention the last-minute cleaning – were overwhelming at times. I had lists and lists of lists and my Ocado order (booked months in advance) was updated on an almost daily basis with an extra pint of milk or an extra tin of biscuits, just in case….Of course there was far too much food (we’re still working our way through the chocolate biscuits) and a great time was had by all, but I’m sure I’ll be fretting again when December rolls around!

Weighed down by my festive stresses, I didn’t get around to writing about the link between worry and sleep disruption, as I’d intended. But, as they say, better late than never….

Whether it’s agonising about cooking your Christmas dinner, pondering what to buy your best mate for Christmas, or bigger worries concerning your career or finances, anxiety has a big impact on the quantity and quality of our sleep:

  • The Sun newspaper reported on 16 December 2010 that sleep problems are more common during the festive season because people worry about buying presents, seeing relatives and Christmas finances. Read the full article by clicking here.
  • A 2010 study by Slumberland showed that nearly three-quarters of British workers are struggling to get a full night’s sleep because of work worries. In a survey of 3,000 adults, 69% said that work problems make it difficult to sleep. And even when we do drop off to sleep, the survey revealed that one in three dreams about work at least twice a week. The survey also showed that 39% wake up at least once during the night fretting about their careers. To read more, click here.
  • On 5 October 2010, the Mirror newspaper reported that adults lose on average 68 minutes’ sleep a night worrying about money, according to a study commission by Boots and the Tony Ferguson Weightloss Programme.  You can read the full article by clicking here.

And it’s not only us mere mortals who are kept awake at night fretting; A-listers are suffering too. In October last year it was reported that Rihanna struggles to sleep because she’s constantly thinking about her work.

Despite my pre-Christmas anxieties, I found ways to wind down and sleep in the run up to Christmas. Here’s some ideas that work for me, give them a go when you’re feeling stressed:

  • If you find yourself dwelling on worries when you go to bed, try writing them down before you hit sack. This exercise helps to prevent problems from keeping my mind active at night when I should be sleeping.
  • If you’re prone to waking in the night with worries on your mind, keep a notepad and pen by your bed – then if you do wake in the night with a problem on your mind, you can write it down and go back to sleep.
  • Try to keep your bedroom tidy and clutter-free. Piles of paperwork and unwashed clothes aren’t conducive to a restful night’s sleep and can add to your anxiety.
  • Remove your clock, alarm clock or mobile phone from sight – clock-watching during the night will only remind you that you’re awake and increase your anxiety.
  • Don’t forget to follow your usual, relaxing, bedtime routine – or if you don’t already have one, create one. What you do in the final moments of your day can really help to prepare you for sleep. For me, this means spending the last few minutes of every day – sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes half an hour – in bed with a light novel or magazine (nothing too engaging or stimulating otherwise I’ll never put it down!) whilst listening to the gentle, soothing sounds of Classic FM.
  • Breathing exercises in bed can help to induce sleep when you’re feeling stressed. The NightWave Sleep Assistant guides you in a session of deep breathing whilst you lay comfortably in bed (read my review of this product – COMING SOON).

Until next time, sleep well! x

And….relax

It turns out that sticking to a sleep routine is not as easy as I’d first thought.

I love my sleep, I really do. And I need plenty of it; I’d sleep for 12 hours every day if I could. Having said that, I figured that around 8 hours of sleep a night should be sufficient. Working backwards from 6am (since that’s the time I have to get up if I’m going to get up at the same time every day), I arrived at a bedtime of 10pm. That’s early, especially on the weekend. And who wants to get up at 6am on a Sunday?

Needless to say, I’m having difficulties with my new sleep schedule, and I’m only a week into it. I’ve already missed my new bedtime three times and consequently allowed myself extra time in bed the morning after to make up for it. It seems that sticking to a sleep routine and having a social life aren’t the most compatible.

I am enjoying the wind down period before bed, however. 8:30pm is now my official cut-off time for work or anything that requires alert thinking, and for those nights that I’ve stuck to it (most of them, honest!), I’ve definitely noticed that I fall asleep more easily. Scheduling time into my day to relax feels strange at first (it’s not very often that I plan time to relax without feeling guilty about it) but, oh what a pleasure! Taking a warm bath, reading a magazine, or preferably, reading a magazine in a warm bath, really do help to relieve anxiety and switch off a busy mind. If I’ve learnt one thing this week, it is the joy (and positive effects) of relaxation.