Monday, 11 January 2016

Keeping A Sleep Pattern

Keeping A Sleep Pattern

Sleep should never be overrated because apart from the fact we need sleep to function and survive, it also is a gift we should cherish. When you have had a good nights sleep you feel amazing and if you haven't, you tend to feel terrible. Like most children growing up I had a bedtime, when I got to my teenage years the bedtime grew later and when I became a university student it was non existent. For a lot of my university years I slept in the day and was awake at night. I became a night owl and that was the time I wrote 80% of all my university work, whilst most people were sleeping at 4am, I would be wide awake. I felt I was the most productive at night and whilst it was convenient at the time, it became a shock when I suddenly was in the world of having a job that started at 9 and finished at 6. I had to have a proper sleep pattern back in my life as I did as a child and so I quickly adapted. When holiday comes around or even the weekends I can often drift back to my lazy ways. So here are a few tips that help me stick to my sleeping pattern.

How many hours?
First of all I think it is important to understand how much sleep you need personally. Everyone is different, some can function on 5 hours, others need a full 12 hours of sleep to feel rested. Personally I need about 8-9 hours to not be at a point where I am yawning all day long. Once you have established how many hours you need of sleep, you then can set an individual bedtime for when you should be getting to bed. I wake up at 6am and therefore I aim to be in bed before 10pm. Now I don't always stick to this, especially if there is a TV show I want to watch or if I am out for the night, but those are my usual every day times with some exceptions.

If you can't fall asleep...
So we all probably suffer from those times where you are lying in bed far from feeling sleepy and feel the constant dread that you have to be up in 5 hours time. The worst thing that my brain seems to do at this time is think, it thinks about everything I don't want it to. Sometimes it makes me worried, anxious, scared and all that is doing is making it more impossible to switch off. With this I think everyone is different, some people can read a book and feel sleepy but for me it actually wakes me up more because I'm getting involved in the story. Some people might switch the TV on and fall asleep to the light background noise. I find that if my brain is full of thoughts I just write them down, whether you keep a diary or not, I just write down on paper what my brain keeps thinking about, so it feels like a problem shared. It always works for me and was the best helper of anxiety I felt the night before an exam. 
Other things you can do is make a hot drink, I would recommend a drink that is aimed at helping you sleep at night, I use the Snore & Peace one from Clippers. But you can also dab a little bit of lavender oil on your chin, it sounds strange but as you breathe you are inhaling the lavender scent which is well known for relaxing and calming your body. You can also make sure you are changing your bed linen regularly (you should be doing that anyway if you are hygienic), the fresh smell of clean sheets can usually make you feel sleepy too.

The Morning Alarm
I hate alarms, unless you have something that day you really are excited for, all you want to do is go back to bed. I have had some terrible missing my alarm stories and all because I had my alarm next to my bed. I used to have this horrible old fashioned alarm that would ring and all I would do was switch a button down and go back to sleep. My iPhone is now my alarm and so I would set my alarm to find that all I did was swipe the alarm off and go back to bed. I then set numerous alarms one after the other, adjusting them so that they started off with a song I liked and then would go to songs I hated, meaning I would have to get up. All I would continuously do was swipe them all off. So my tip if you do this is to set your alarm but keep it on the other side of your room, some place you can still hear it but will have to get up to turn it off. That has been the best thing for me, I have been known on the odd occasion to turn my phone off and go back to bed anyway but just having to get out of bed makes my body feel like I have already got up.

Be hard on yourself!
Say if you have gone to bed late, don't just lie in until you wake up because you will just get set back into a bad habit. For example, if I have stayed up till 1am watching a film, I still force myself out of bed at 6am because I know then I will quickly get back into my sleep pattern. It might come at a price of having bags under your eyes and relying on coffee for the day but it will be the easiest way of having an early night rather than a late one again. Something that I find helps if I feel really tired is I splash my face with cold water before cleansing as that usually makes me feel more awake. 
If you find yourself being too tired to function and you are in a place where you can have a nap (I would only suggest this if you are at home) then have a small power nap for 15 minutes. Try not to go any longer because you will end up feeling worse and might not be able to fall asleep at your bedtime.

These are just a few little tips with keeping to a sleep pattern. I think most importantly it depends on your lifestyle, some can be asleep at night but then others might be getting up to go to work. I just like sleep a lot and want my body to get as much as it needs (whilst having a life too), so sticking to a pattern allows me to get the right amount of sleep each night and feel refreshed each day. 

Do you have a sleep pattern that you stick to regularly? 

Have a good nights sleep! ☺

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