Sweet Dreams

Anyone else feel permanently exhausted? I know I’m not alone in feeling tired of being tired; it seems like most of us simply aren’t getting the sleep we need. How much shut-eye you’re getting each night has a massive effect on your health, productivity and how you feel about yourself. So how can we help ourselves get a more restful forty winks?

Choose your nightcap wisely

Once my kids are all tucked up in bed there are few things I enjoy more than a glass of red to help signal the beginning of ‘my’ time. And because I am more relaxed, it seems to help me fall asleep more easily too. But research shows that drinking alcohol too close to bedtime reduces your REM sleep, leaving you feeling drowsy and unfocused the next day. It also has the added effect of making it more likely you need to visit the bathroom during the night. So while there are some evenings when there is no way I am prepared to forgo my vino, at least making my last drink before bed a chamomile tea or night time sleepy tea helps me to properly unwind before my head hits the pillow.

Ban the Blues from the Bedroom

Sleep experts say we should be strict about leaving our screens and devices out of the bedroom. The blue light they emit mimics daylight, signalling to our brains that it is time to wake up and disrupting the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. But if like me your phone also doubles as your alarm clock/everything else, do at least try not to have your device right by you as you sleep (leaving it on the other side of the room also reduces the temptation to hit snooze in the morning). Dimming the screen brightness and turning your phone face down also helps ensure you are not disturbed by the glare during the night. I am also really trying to stick to the habit of switching my phone to aeroplane mode and putting it aside in the evenings, learning most things can wait until morning.

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Write away your Worries

As I lie in bed staring at the ceiling and willing myself to sleep, it’s usually my brain racing through a million to do lists that’s stopping me from drifting off. A friend suggested keeping a notebook on my bedside table so I can write a list of anything on my mind before I switch off the light- everything from shopping lists to work deadlines. It’s a nice little ritual which helps reassure me that I am on top of things, clearing out some mental clutter… although I will admit many of the things on the list rollover for successive nights.

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Breathe it all out

I love the idea of yoga and mindfulness, and when I do make the time for it I always wish I did more- the feel good after effects alone make it worth it. Sadly the rest of life makes a habit of getting in the way of these good intentions, as is often the way. But one thing I do try and make time for is Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep. When my brain cogs feel like they are still doggedly whirring come bedtime this deeply relaxing form of guided meditation really help me draw a line under my day; quietening the incessant chatter by instead making me simply focus on my body and my breath. There are plenty of guided sessions online to try, and I often drift off before the practice ends. And while there’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep, it’s said that a 30 minute Yoga Nidra practice is as restful as two hours of deep sleep. 

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Photography: Claire Graham Photography | Kinga Cichewicz | Alison Marvas

I’m a writer and content creator, working with brands to create inspiring bespoke content, as well as on my own projects. Having spent 12 years working at Glamour before going freelance, I now spend my time working with a diverse range of mainly lifestyle, health, well-being and beauty brands, on anything from blog writing, website copy, features and press releases, to e-marketing, social media content and campaign management. And while my average working day may not be as glamorous as during my time in the magazine industry, I love the flexibility of working for myself and the daily variety of working with new people and on different projects.

Having given up city life for seaside dwelling, if I’m not busy tapping away you’ll probably find me down at the beach with my young children, with a large coffee in hand, or with my nose in a book. Ideally, all three.