Not being able to sleep is the worst. Whether you’re the type of person who tosses and turns, or you get midnight snacky, or you just lay awake with your thoughts going into overload, not being able to switch off and snooze has some real knock on impacts.
I think my biggest problem has generally been that I’ve struggled to actually switch off – very literally in some cases – and my brain tends to always run away with itself, which is annoying when I’m awake, but downright frustrating when I’m trying to sleep. So I’ve started trying to get together a good routine before bed to give myself the best shot at dozing off. I’ve laid it out below, in the hopes that it might be helpful for you too:
Yup; I’m going straight in with the big guns. All too often I’ve got caught up in playing a game (Apex Legends is my latest addiction; you thought Fortnite was bad), or doing work staring at a laptop screen, or even just binging through a really good series on Netflix, and before you know it, it’s gone midnight. When we’re staring at screens – particularly doing something stimulating like playing a game – we’re keeping our brains wired, and it’ll take you longer to fall asleep (and possibly not have as good a quality of sleep). So I try to set myself a deadline for when to turn off the PS4 (and try to keep it!). With that in mind:
Sometimes life gets in the way. But actually keeping to a set time to go to bed and to wake up, will eventually mean that your body gets used to going to bed at a set time. I generally try to get to bed by 10:30pm, so by the time it’s 10pm, my body’s got used to feeling sleepy and getting geared up for hitting the hay. If you’re an iPhone user, you can use the Bedtime mode on the clock, which is pretty neat, and will give you a lil reminder that it’s time to start settling down.
I know I just said about using your phone to help you get to sleep, but if you’re anything like me, sometimes just having your phone on your bedside table is too much temptation to just sit and scroll through Instagram, send derp-face snapchats or dive into a deep rabbit hole of weird YouTube videos. So it’s maybe best to try leaving your phone downstairs to charge it, or even just on the other side of the room, so it’s not in grabbing reach.
“But Si!” I hear you scream “What on earth am I meant to do without my phone?”. I hear ya, dear reader, I hear ya. Truth is, I suck at reading books BUT sitting in bed and reading a book, rather than looking at a screen actually makes a real difference; it calms you down, can improve your long term brain power, and even make you more creative.
In all of our school workshops, we get everyone to think of at least 1 thing that’s been good about their week, no matter how small. Getting into the habit of looking for something good that’s happened can massively change your outlook on the world, and your ability to tackle difficult situations as they arise. So I’ve made an effort to write down 3 things each night that have been good about the day. Sometimes that’s really easy, sometimes that’s really hard. But it’s another thing that helps me get into the mindset of winding down.
It’s probably kinda obvious, but 10pm isn’t the time to be knocking back cans of Monster or espressos. But there’s something quite nice about a warm drink just before bed; it’s kinda comforting! So I’ve started opting for a caffeine free peppermint tea before I get to my reading & journalling.
Get your mind out the gutter. Not like that. I’m on about stretching, having a lil facial routine (a scrub and some night time moisturiser is my secret to looking so youthful) and taking care of yourself. It’s important to prime your body for a good night’s sleep as well as your brain.
When I had a bit of a breakdown a couple years back, my parents got me this lamp, and its sick. The whole vibe is that it simulates a sunset, so you’re not just going from bright light to full darkness; it gradually gets darker over like 20 mins, which genuinely just makes you feel really sleepy. And then in the morning, it gradually gets brighter, so you’ll wake up naturally to the light, rather than some screaming alarm clock and it’s not such a shock to the system, so you’re set up for a better start to the day. I’ve got this Lumie one but there’s a bunch of others out there.
But what about you? What works for you? What’s stopping you from trying stuff like this? We wanna know!