Hello, Boss Witches! Today I want to talk about how to get to sleep when your brain is being a d*ck by going a million miles an hour, reminding you of shameful things you did when you were 17, and making you mull over all of your life choices repeatedly until you consider banging your head against a wall just in case that makes you pass out for a second (please don’t do that).
Sleep hygiene is one of those concepts that always makes me roll my eyes. See, I don’t like being told by a GP or by a therapist that I need to go to bed early and not watch TV. Because, let’s face it, one of the best things about being alive in 2019 is watching Netflix as you pass out slowly. I am someone who needs noise to drown out the thoughts so that I can get some blessed rest. However, I do recognise that there is truth to the bullsh*t spouted by GPs who think that going to bed at 8pm and not looking at your phone after 7pm is the solution.
I’m not going to tell you what to do; that’s not my style. Instead, I’m going to tell you how I like to (try) to use the concept of sleep hygiene in a practical and achievable way that is also realistic and also not f*cking BORING.
I love routine. I love lists, and I love routines. Whenever my anxiety or depression are acting up, routine is a great friend. Writing a list of what time to do things (eat breakfast, go to bed etc) makes me feel like I have a plan of action that can be put into place and achieved. For me, I know that getting up earlier (like 8am) when I’m working from home or on PhD days is my best bet at getting in a day of work without feeling lethargic and also being tired enough that going to sleep before midnight is at least a likelihood.
I try to take a bath before bed to signal to myself that the work day is done. I tend to put lavender essential oil into that bath because, yes, aromatherapy does work for me. That lavender oil also goes into my aromatherapy diffuser with some rosemary and bergamot to make my room smell like sleepytime. Speaking of sleepytime – I used to love SleepyTime tea. I don’t find it overly helpful these days, but lots of people do, and there are heaps of options for that. Whatever works for you. But routine – i.e. telling your brain and your body that it’s time for bed and rest – is one of the best things in my toolkit.
I know, I bang on about meditation a lot. You know how I said I need noise? I don’t mean like loud talking. I tend to gravitate towards things like TV shows that I don’t have to watch (Masterchef Australia is my fave for that) that help me drift off. HOWEVER – I realise that’s not very healthy in terms of sleep hygiene so I TRY to meditate instead. That’s where Yoga Nidra is great – I rarely make it all the way through. If I make it through a 45 minute Yoga Nidra session, then it’s time for Masterchef, because things are bad.
Before bed I take a concoction of supplements (please check with your doctor before doing that etc etc). If I’m having a rough patch in terms of sleep, I’ll take Melatonin for a few nights to try to help get me back into a routine of sleeping when it’s dark and waking when it’s light. I suffer from restless leg syndrome when I’m stressed, so I also take Magnesium for that. On top of those, I take loads more for various things, but more on that another time.
I’m not saying to drink alcohol. I’m not going to tell you not to. I’m just going to point out that if I have a few glasses of wine, I am going to be bang-wide-awake at 3am and there is going to be no going back. Make up your own mind – everyone is different.
I try not to drink coffee after about 4pm. I’m down to 2 a day now, and those are always in the morning. On a special occasion I might have another one after dinner but that’s pretty rare. My problem is the diet cola, which I’ve mentioned before. I am trying to be better at not drinking that at nighttime, but we all have our vices. Also: remember that tea has caffeine in it, and so does green tea. If you’re dying for your hot beverages at bedtime and you’re trying to cut back the caffeine, I’m going to suggest a delicious tasting herbal tea (they do exist) like fennel, or something equally naturally sweet. Chamomile, in my humble opinion, tastes a bit like lawn mowings, but each to their own, witches.
MAKE YOUR BED
Witches, let me tell you something. There are those of us who like to make beds and those of us who don’t. But I’m going to hazard a guess that 100% of us prefer getting into a made bed at night. Climbing into scrunched up sheets and a lumpy quilt where all the feathers are at one side is just not going to do it for me, and it’s just not going to do it for you. Be a doll, be kind to yourself. Wash your sheets regularly. Invest in nice bedding if that option is available to you. And if you don’t make your bed in the mornings, at least make it before you go to bed at night. You will feel better, guaranteed.
Once upon a time I treated myself to this sleep mask on Amazon. It’s silky soft, it’s heavenly. That opened up a can of worms in that I can no longer sleep without a mask on, preferably my actual silk mask that I’m presently attached to. It’s all part of the routine. Once that mask goes on my head, above my eyes, I’m readying myself for bed. Once it’s on? It’s time for Deepak Chopra, or Jennifer Piercy, or Masterchef Australia.
Like I said, everyone is different. Some people like to do yoga before bed, and some people like to meditate, and some people like to play video games for 17 hours until they pass out. But I think we all know which one of those options is probably the least hygienic if we’re talking about sleep hygiene.
What sleep hacks do you have?