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Struggling to sleep?

Why am I awake?????

Have you ever asked yourself that? I have. I have fine tuned an inability to switch off.

Stress and sleep is definitely what I struggle with the most. For years, I have had random nights of insomnia and recently, with lock down worry, self-employed struggles and a general feeling of 'there is so much to do and worry about' it's been getting worse. I end up burning the candle at both ends with bedtime being a time to 'just send another email', and 'you haven't posted on social media all day, post now!'.

I know how important sleep is. Matthew Walker is one of my favourite scientists and writers in this area. I know we get stronger when we rest and recover, not when we workout, do everything and sacrifice sleep. In the past however, I might have played victim and be 'woe is me I just can't sleep' but actually I think there is far more responsibility we can take.

I started small. Some things I am trying:

  • I began with buying an alarm clock and blue light blocking glasses.

  • I stopped caffeine 12-14 hours before bedtime. This was not so easy but definitely worth it - you wouldn't expect to down half a cup of coffee and go straight to sleep, so you gotta give caffeine the required time to get out of your system. It limits deep sleep.

  • I also tried limiting water drinking an hour before bed.

  • I then added an alarm on my phone to remind me to go to bed. I

  • have an app that blocks all social media past 9pm (and a husband who set the password for it so I can't turn it off!).

  • I read for 10-20 minutes when I get into bed.

  • As I turn off my light, I do five minutes of breath work and/or meditation.

This last habit was quite a hard habit to add in for me so I used another of James Clear's ideas here - an implementation intention. 'I want to sleep better' is vague and un-actionable but 'I will do five minutes breathing after switching off my light in my bedroom' is specific, easy and doable.

An implementation intention should be said out loud or written down - it cements a commitment in your brain to do it. To formulate one: I will do (insert action) at (insert time) in (insert location).

This weekend, when I expressed my frustrations, a friend gave me a kindly prompt and challenge to completely turn off my phone and leave it downstairs. Even with apps blocked I'd still check it! And has it helped? Yes, setting some boundaries and observing the outcome has been very useful

Do I sleep perfectly now? NO. But I have a solid routine, and an environment to support me. I will keep tweaking, setting some more boundaries around work and leisure time and continually ask - does that make me feel better?

What have your battles been around sleep? Do you struggle with screen time too? Let me know some of your favourite ways to relax and switch off 😊

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