Health and Disability · Invisible illnesses

Managing Sleep Part 2

I’ve been trying some sleep tips to help me get back into a good sleeping pattern as I am barely functioning and need at least 8 hours to do my usual 4-5 hours a day, which just isn’t happening at the minute.

This week I’ve put up new curtains and made my bed comfier (the mattress was being pushed up a little by the stuff I’d shoved under my bed) to try and help me to sleep longer, wake up in the night fewer times and get to sleep faster. I’ve also started using a relaxation temple balm and most importantly I am not taking my iPad (netflix) to bed with me.

So my plan is to get back to my old bedtime routine that did work for me and see if it helps with how I’m doing at the minute. 

The plan:

Lights off time 10pm and wake up time is 8am – sleep specialists agree that a regular bedtime and wake up time helps our bodies to regulate our sleep. Did you know that on the iPhone clock app there is a bedtime setting which will remind you to go to bed as well as waking you up in the morning? I’ve set it to remind me an hour before as I have to leave an hour between my tablets and my sachet meds. This means I know when I have to be in bed and I don’t need to worry about alarms unless I’m getting up earlier than 8am for some reason.

So at 8pm I start getting ready for bed, I like to read for about an hour before I go to sleep, that’s 9-10pm so between 8 and 9pm I faff around, get washed, brush my teeth, take my tablets, prepare my sachet meds, put on my MSM gel and heat lotion, sort the cat out, tidy up, make sure everything is charged, get clothes ready for the next day, sort out anything I need for the day, write my happy book, do my skincare routine, put on my temple balm and try to get comfy in bed (this is an elusive process as every position is painful, it’s a case of minimising the pain and being as comfy as possible to read and start to wind down and relax). I have to make sure everything is sorted or I can’t relax, I often end up getting up a couple of times because I’ve forgotten something!

By 9pm I’ve pretty much managed to sort everything out and can be cosy in bed with some music on my iPod (mainly Sugarland and Matchbox 20 at the minute) it’s got to be music that I know well so that it’s just background noise for me and I’m not focusing on the lyrics so that I can pay attention to what I’m reading. The music is to help keep my mind from wandering and creating anxious thoughts that I end up catastrophising and stressing myself out. I really struggle to stop my brain from whirring, so music and a book is essential for me to try and relax ready to go to sleep.

So I do an hour of reading between 9 and 10pm. I’ve got to read fiction before I go to sleep because if I pick from my pile of self help books then I start to get ideas of what I need to do, I want to make notes and I want to write blogs about them…and getting my brain working is the last thing I need at this time of night, so The Happiness Trap is strictly daytime reading for days that I’m feeling up to it. It’s amazing how reading can be a challenge when it always used to come so easily!

10pm my bedtime alarm goes off, I take my sachet med drink and turn the light off. I leave my iPod in to keep my brain from spiralling and I’ve been able to get to sleep just a few minutes after turning off the lights which is amazing!! (After some research this shows severe sleep deprivation!)

This last week I’ve managed to stick to my routine on 5 days, one night I was home late as I went out for dinner with some friends so I didn’t get home until about 10.30 so I didn’t get to sleep until about 12.30am. The next morning I turned off my alarm when it went off at 8am (I can’t remember doing it, but I must have done) and went back to sleep until 10am. The other night I was engrossed in my book and couldn’t put it down, so I carried on reading until about 11.30! Not good!

The results have been peculiar, some nights I’ve slept all the way through, other nights I’ve woken up up to 3 times during the night, I’ve been remembering my dreams and having an average of 30 minutes deep sleep a night, as well as being woken up by my cat sitting on me which causes pain, having lovely night sweats and waking up because I’m soaking! Not what you need!

Deep sleep is the time when your body and brain get to repair ( http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm ) studies show that adults need about 20% of their sleep to be deep sleep in order to get the full benefits (http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/How-Much-Deep-Sleep-Do-You-Need.html) With these levels (I track my sleep with a mi band) I’m getting about 8 and a half hours sleep a night, so with 30 minutes of deep sleep that’s about a third of what I actually need. With this being the average since I started tracking my sleep no wonder I always feel exhausted and my brain is melting! 

At 8am my alarm goes off and I’m usually a bit stuck as my body has seized up during the night so it takes me a while to stretch, wriggle about and shuffle my way out of bed, the day starts and by 8pm I’m back to sleep routine time. I’ve found a couple more tips while doing some research, so I’m going to try keeping the cat out of my bedroom and eating a banana before bed this week to see if I can stop waking up in the night, and try and get some more deep sleep to help my body to recouperate and hopefully start to feel a little bit better.

Any other tips please let me know!

Wishing you all good sleep

Vic xx

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