Sleep. It can be tricky at the best of times, let alone when our routines are changed up and when we might have a lot more going on in our minds.
I’ve never been a naturally good sleeper, especially when I’ve had unusual schedules traveling or touring, so I’ve read a lot of things and tried a lot of things. You can consider me your personal test subject! Here’s what I have found useful:
📱Limiting screen time. We all know it but we aren’t so good at being disciplined about it. You can change the light balance and brightness on your devices but ideally we should have a set no blue light period prior to bed. If you struggle with this give yourself a curfew e.g. no checking emails after 9pm.
☕️ Limiting caffeine. All bodies are different but I know caffeine has a strong effect on me. I usually drink 2 coffees in the morning and limit afternoon caffeine after 12pm to one cup of tea in the early afternoon.
🛠 Tools to switch off your brain - I have found listening to calm meditations, podcasts, TED Talks or sleep stories to be useful as they distract me from the work my brain is focused on - especially when I am on a show and can struggle to get music out of my head at nighttime.
🙉 Noise blockers. I’m a rather noise sensitive person. I have used white noise apps while staying in noisy hotels (interesting to note there are all sorts of noise types - white noise, blue noise, pink noise etc.) and have even worn noise-cancelling headphones as well as ear plugs to bed while staying in a noisy London apartment!
🛁 Having a wind down pre-sleep period. It’s tempting to want to be productive right up until the moment we want to get some shuteye, but our bodies need a transition period. A wind down routine is a great time to do whatever you might be able to look forward to at the end of the day - a hot bath/shower, reading a good book, having a herbal tea, getting on a Shakti mat or stretching etc. All of these bedtime activities give your brain cues that it’s time to relax, especially if done habitually. Elite sports sleep coach Nick Littlehales suggests a pre-sleep routine of 90 minutes (based off his R90 approach to sleep - his book aptly named “Sleep” is well worth a read). That might sound difficult but really what it means is a 90 minute period of taking the pressure of the day off. I would use this time to switch off devices and do more mundane tasks such as washing clothes, drying the dishes, packing bags and workout clothes for the next day, writing down a ‘what’s on my mind’ list to brain purge and getting ready for bed. Dimming the lights in your house during this time is also a good way to assist your body clock.
🌚 Taking the pressure off yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle - not being able to sleep and then doubling down on feeling stressed or anxious because you aren’t able to. Remind yourself you will be okay. If you have a bad sleep tonight you will probably have a better sleep tomorrow night. One good way to deal with stressful thoughts surrounding sleep is to do a grounding exercise - lie in bed and mentally name three things you can feel, smell, see and hear. You will get through the night and you will get through the next day.
🌟Sweet dreams x
- photo taken at my hotel in Nanning during Spring Festival