Struggling to Sleep?

Sleep can be elusive during lockdown

I’ve never been the best sleeper out there and have suffered bouts of insomnia throughout my adult life. Usually, after a couple of days my sleep pattern returns to normal and, with the addition of a few ‘disco naps’ here and there, I manage to catch up on any of those missed 40 winks. Not surprisingly, this hasn’t been the case recently and I know I’m not alone…

Lots of us are struggling to sleep during lockdown. Whilst our bodies may be less active than normal, our brains seem to be whirring around at top speed even in the early hours of the morning. Things are so unpredictable at the moment and as a nation, we are all concerned about our physical and mental health, as well as our financial stability. Not knowing what the future will bring is nothing new but not being able to do many of the things we normally do to manage feelings of worry or anxiety mean that we can find it hard to switch off and find peace enough to sleep.

For many years I have been a fan of the sleep hygiene theory. Just like we would cleanse our homes or bodies from dirt and grime, we can cleanse our sleep spaces and rituals in order to make both our minds and our bedrooms more conducive to sleep.

Having spent my teenage and university years essentially living in my bedroom, I was used to my bedroom being a sleeping, living and working area cluttered with TVs, computers, iPads, phones etc. These days, I have removed all screens from the bedroom, with the exception of my phone which I still use as an alarm clock (I know, it needs to go too!). I do however, always turn my phone onto flight mode every night so I’m not disturbed by social media notifications or emails in the middle of the night. This may not be practical for everyone, but you could consider using the nighttime mode where only key contacts are able to get through. I would also advise turning the brightness of the screen down at nighttime and limiting the hour you spend scrolling through pointless social media and new reports – believe me, there’s nothing worse than going down the rabbit hole of new reports at the moment!

Many people have started using weighted blankets to help them feel more secure during sleep. These can be really expensive so consider using a chunky throw or bedspread. I have a heavy duvet and throw on my bed and feeling tucked up and snug has definitely helped me achieve a better sense of security.

I have also found using essential oils has really helped me. I have diffuser that works on a timer so I can mix up something relaxing (say lavender, frankincense and patchouli) and diffuse that for a couple of hours before sleep. I also like to use a doTERRA pillow spray called Serenity every night and this has become part of my pre-sleep ritual (you can purchase your essential oils and diffusers here).

Certain crystals by the bedside or under your pillow can aid restful sleep. Amethyst, rose quartz and clear quartz are nice ones to start with and you can source these pretty cheaply online.

If like me you wake up a lot in the night, try reading or listening to an audio book on a timer until you find yourself dropping off again. I’ma big fan of Audible and especially love anything read by Stephen Fry – he has such a soporific voice! You could also try some of the sleep or white noise soundtracks available.

Above all else, try not to beat yourself up when you can’t sleep. I know it’s frustrating but the more annoyed you get the harder it becomes to attain any quality shut eye. If you know you sleep better after being physically active, try and get outside for some exercise, do the garden, or even do some gentle yoga (I have some slow classes available online here).

If all else fails, see if a 20 minute nap during the day helps. Just try not to spend 3 hours asleep as it’ll defeat the objet when you try and go to bed that night.

Sweet dreams!