Okay, I confess – I am obsessed with sleep! To be fair, poor quality sleep or a lack of it can reduce our lifespan and increase the risk of a number of potentially fatal illnesses – heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes. It can leave us feeling foggy and confused, putting our effectiveness at work at risk, which in turn can impact our employability. Being constantly tired also makes us irritable and short tempered, and this can damage relationships with family, friends, clients and colleagues.
The good news is, there are proven steps you can take to improve your sleep. If you haven’t read my first two blog posts – please do. They will give you tips on managing caffeine consumption, cutting down liquids to reduce night-time toilet visits, setting a bedtime routine to teach your brain and body when it is bedtime, writing down your worries and thoughts before bed, meditating for relaxation and mindful breathing. Even just doing one thing from the list that you haven’t been doing can help you sleep better – give it a go, you have nothing to lose!
To give you an even better chance of success, here are three final tips for now!
1. Switch off the lights.
Light tell our bodies it is time to be awake. Darkness tells our bodies it is time to sleep. It’s as simple as that. Unless you rise with the sun and lay back down with the moon, invest in some good blackout curtains to block out the light. Turn off all the lights in the room (particularly your TV phone, tablet and laptop – none of which should be in the bedroom!) to tell your body ‘it is bedtime’. Some people have a problem waking in the winter because of the lack of daylight and something that can help with this is a S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Lamp. These lamps mimic daylight and they recommend using them as soon as you wake up for half an hour. They are designed for people who have a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern. However, some people find the lamps useful to wake them up in the morning even though they don’t have the depression.
2. Cut out daytime napping
Lots of us work from home or are self-employed with our own schedules. This is great but it can also lead to the temptation to nip into the bedroom for a quick nap in the middle of the day. Sadly, as lovely as a daytime nap is, it normally makes it more difficult to get off to sleep at bedtime. This can quickly escalate into a cycle of lack of sleep at night whilst napping in the day. Even if you are exhausted stay up as close to your bedtime as possible but rather have an early night than a daytime nap.
3. Change the temperature
A healthy way to sleep is in a cool room with fresh air if possible. The Sleep Council recommends 16°-18° C and recommends avoiding a cold room of 12° C or lower or a hot room of 24° C higher. Use extra blankets or a thicket duvet in the winter to keep warm under the covers, and maybe invest in a hot water bottle! Note that children and the elderly might need a slightly warmer room.
In other news, I am delighted to confirm my first collaboration for 2020. Along with the amazing Jackie Grant of We Grant Fitness and Health (check her out here www.wegrantfitnessandhealth.co.uk) we are launching Waltham Forest’s first Menopause Café on January 29th. The menopause is such a misunderstood period of a woman’s life, yet 50% of the population will go through it, and the other 50% will know at least one person who will go through it! Menopause Cafés are aimed at breaking down the taboo around menopause increasing awareness of the impact of the menopause on those experiencing it, their family, friends and their colleagues, and reflecting on the ‘third stage of life’.
Open to both female and male participants of all ages, Menopause Café will be held on the last Wednesday of each month between 7pm and 9pm at the Arbeit Studios, 778 High Road, E10 6AE.
It is a free event but ticketed and places are limited. If you would like to join us please follow this link: www.menopausecafewalthamforestlondonuk.eventbrite.co.uk Jackie and myself really look forward to seeing you!
Finally, I attended Mental Health First Aid training this week. It was fascinating. We learnt about a number of mental health illness and also how to help someone hearing voices and what to do if someone is feeling suicidal. I hope to never have to use the skills I picked up but as a therapy provider, it is possible that I might. That is why I invested in the training – so that I can be better prepared to help my clients, family, friends and associates if needed.
On that note, I wish you the best of years. I hope 2020 is one of better mental health for you all and - particularly for those of us in the UK - better social health. Our society was quite fractured in 2019 so let’s get together and put it right in 2020! Happy New Year!