Ok guys, so it’s National Bed Month. Seems a fitting time for me to talk about sleep.

Sleep: It is important, we get it in bed (mmmm bed!), we need a decent amount of it. Sleep; it’s a fairly simple process! In fact, look at a baby (any baby, human/cat it doesn’t matter) and you will see that newborn babies are experts right from the off (though some parents out there may disagree!)

So why can’t I sleep?! What went wrong as I grew up?

Potential suspects: Caffeine, stress, mental stimulation, not being comfortable, medical condition, obsessive compulsive concerns, to name but a few.

I personally have always struggled with sleep. I cannot put my finger on the one sole reason/trigger for my lack of sleep, but I do know that it comes in waves and when I’m struggling, the issue very quickly escalates, day by day.

I mentioned a number of potential suspects to sleep inhibition. If you are over doing it on something (or a number of things) that may prevent or disturb sleep then I suggest you start stripping back the suspects one-by-one. That way you can highlight the real issue.

Buzz:

As a fanatical fitness professional, my own in-gym performance matters to me more than most. As such I have been partial to a pre-workout drink and and a triple espresso from time to time.

Let’s start with that, stop the ‘tired and wired’ situation. Limit caffine to a max of 3mg per Kg of bodyweight, in other words, 3 cup’s maximum. Also consider the timing of consumption, perhaps a 4pm curfew? Remember caffeine creeps into the diet in many ways; most of the aforementioned pre-workout drinks are loaded with the stuff. Stop it! Sleep is far more important!

Break any fixed habits:

Having sought help from a sleep hypnotist it was apparent that I had built up a series of checklists and circumstances that must be met, before I consider myself in a position where sleep may be possible for me.
This always bugged me, I mean every single time I sit as a passenger in a car on a motorway I find myself dozing off in seconds, so why is it that come night time and laying on a cozy bed I find myself fidgeting compulsively?

Things getting in my way:

  • Searching for the perfect posture
  • Too much light creeping into room (no blackout blinds)
  • Landing lights on
  • Tumble dryer/washing machine/dishwasher on
  • Pillow too soft/pillow to hard
  • I need a shower/skin feels hot
  • I don’t have enough duvet
  • I don’t have enough space
  • It’s so late I must fall asleep NOW!
  • Partner reading her book
  • Reading light on
  • I MUST BE UP EARLY

I could go on!

What a ridiculous list of circumstances! I spent many years trying to sleep on my back, figuring it is better for my posture. Well, that may be so, but if you can’t sleep on your back then you MUST switch position! Sleep is more important, ok?!

It is highly likely that one, if not many, of the above concerns will be in action every single night. So with that it’s time to become a little more robust.

Radical ideas:

Here are a few:

  1. Read a book in bed (if you’re like me, you’ll find that 2-3 pages in you can’t keep your eyes open!
  2. Listen to something chilled, mindful and happy.
  3. Focus on nice stuff!
  4. Change your routine (swap sides of the bed/turn your technology off 60 mines before bed, don’t watch Eastenders (it’s miserable!)

I have two things I’m listening to at present, one is ‘Shiny Happy People by REM’, and the other is the audiobook of ‘This is Happening’ (an intro to mindfulness).

If you are really struggling, then perhaps you do need an intervention, but I really suggest you try a few simple changes first.

Finally, remember to be kind on yourself. One bad night sleep here and there is totally normal! Don’t let it become a habit. Write it off. Another day another dollar. Wake up and start again!

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