Sleeping struggles

Source: Chris Waits via Flickr

By Emily Murray

Counting sheep not working for you?

Trying to juggle your time between uni, social life, seeing family as well as dealing with deadlines, relationships and money on your mind no wonder you’re struggling to fall asleep before 3am.

Your sleep pattern says everything about you. How easily you fall asleep and for how long can be tracked back to all aspects of your life: your diet, exercise, daily stresses, relationships, workload and also the environment you’re sleeping in. All these different areas need to be taken into consideration

First things first, with a million things whizzing around your head you can’t even begin to settle into a restless sleep. Make rid of them by writing lists of everything that’s on your mind: what work you want getting done tomorrow, a shopping list for the week etc. Or, if you’re just annoyed about something, just vent. Open up a note on your phone and type away. Get all those worries and tensions out and then delete it. You’ll immediately feel better. A problem shared is a problem halved, even if it’s just with a blank screen. It all seems a lot less overwhelming and a lot more achievable when we write things down. It also takes those thoughts out of your brain leaving your mind quiet – allowing you to feel a lot more peaceful.

Now that your mind is at ease, your body is the next step. Buy some bubble bath, light some candles and just melt into your bathtub for half an hour. Put on your favourite non lyrical music, maybe a soundtrack from a movie and let your mind have a little break.

This is all well and good for the evening but there are a lot of other things that could be contributing to your irregular sleeping pattern. A big factor that affects our sleep is food. With deadlines looming it’s OK to leave having dinner ‘til 9pm, but try not to have sugars or caffeine after 7pm as this is bound to keep you up. Instead, try having a cup of green peppermint tea before bed. It’s sweet and doesn’t have caffeine but is also known to relieve stress as well as having antibacterial properties that help digestion. The natural inflammatory ingredients help you relax and the menthol even prevents illnesses like colds.

My biggest advice to give to you is give yourself a no phones in bed rule. It’s so important to not be playing on your phone before bed. There’s that oh-so-popular meme about being a zombie all day and then once you’re in bed you find yourself scrolling on Facebook until the early hours of the morning. Your phone keeps your mind fully stimulated and, what’s worse is, you will never have had your fill. The only thing that makes you put your phone down is the sunlight starting to come through your blinds. Scroll until your hearts content when you’re downstairs with your housemates watching TV but once you’re in bed put it away. Leave it off or put it in a housemate’s room if you’re that addicted. But it really will help you get an earlier night and a more settled one. Nothing groundbreaking is going to happen in 8 hours (especially when everyone else is sleeping…).

If you feel like you want something to unwind with, try a book instead. It’s more beneficial for your mind to be reading Stieg Larsson over the lad bible and much more thrilling. Plus, there’s no lit up screen tricking you into staying awake longer. If a novel seems too much for you try short stories or poems.

Now your mind has been distracted and you’ve finished sipping on herbal goodness it’s time to get all the senses relaxed. Spraying lavender on your pillow makes you continue to inhale the sleepy scent throughout the night keeping you dozed off. It’s worth investing in some earplugs too. Pluggerz, which you can buy from boots, are made specifically for sleeping and are great because they only block out background sounds like noisy neighbours and road racket that would prevent you from sleeping. They’re also extremely comfortable and easy to put in. An eye mask is very useful too.

If you’ve tried all this and really nothing is working then I’d suggest going to your gym an hour before it’s closing time. The endorphins might still be kicking about afterwards but once you’ve had a nice hot shower, put fresh PJs on, written your lists, sprayed lavender on your pillow, tucked yourself up in bed with your green tea, popped your earplugs in and have your eye mask at the ready you’re bound to be exhausted my friend.

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