I’ve spent endless days of my life running without or on extremely limited sleep, which I know is horrendously crippling. Naturally then, I’ve done a lot of research into overcoming sleeplessness, which is compiled in a mini-list below.
1. Invest in good bedding. This is the most important one on my list so naturally it’s at numero uno. I live in Vietnam and the mattresses provided here are like blocks of wood, which results in endless nights of no sleep and anxiety. Having finally had enough of running on minimal sleep I invested in a 100 quid mattress and as a result, became the perfect case study for good bedding. I could sleep! What a luxury. Your money could not be better invested.
2. Buy a reading light and a good book. Switch your overhead light off, get into bed and read a book (not too much of an exciting one) until you can’t concentrate anymore.
3. A sleep routine. Try and go to sleep and wake up at the same time to let your body flex its muscle memory.
4. Exercise. Run. Walk. Join the cheese-rolling club. Do anything that could wear yourself out so you can get into bed with that feeling of having earned your sleep.
5. Eat your dinner early so you have time to digest before bed. Try and steer away from heavy carbs such as pizza, pasta, and rice as they release slow burning energy, which is exactly NOT what you need before bedfordshire.
6. Avoid alcohol if you can. When my insomnia was at its worst, I turned to drinking beer every night to lull me into a drunken slumber. Not only did this not work half the time (I’d be sleepless and hungover for work) but it made me feel like shit. It actually felt better not having slept at all without a hangover than a good 6 hours sleep sponsored by 5 beers.
7. Sleep apps. There are some really good ones out there. I use Simple Habit, which was spenny to sign up for but worth the money. Ultimately, your health is your wealth so investing in a good app that can teach you helpful meditative techniques is money you should splash out on. One of my best tried and tested techniques I’ve learned is to get comfy, take a deep, long breathe in whilst thinking ‘sleep comes easily’ and breathing out thinking ‘I sleep peacefully’ repeating until you fall asleep. It sounds silly, but it focuses your mind and concentrating on your breath relaxes you.
8. Call a good mate. If you have moved to the other end of the world there will undoubtedly be a friend you could call on a different time zone. This’ll take your mind off going to bed, hopefully tire you out and leave you happier hearing some news from your home country.
9. Don’t toss and turn. Get up and do something productive like go for a walk, do your lesson plan or write your journal. Sometimes achieving things in your To Do list will make your sleepless night seem less of a waste of time.
10. Herbal sleeping pills are the way forward. They often don’t have any side effects and are great for switching your mind off. Try not to dive straight into taking prescription sleeping pills as they are addictive and having to eventually wean yourself off those will cause another bout of insomnia.
11. Blackout your room so there isn’t any light coming in. Light will distract your brain and hinders your sleep quality.
12. Make your room as quiet as possible. Get earplugs or shout at people to stfu if necessary.
13. Don’t drink too much water/tea before bed. One of the most annoying things in the world is being on the cusp of going to sleep but then having to get up to go wee.
14. Don’t nap in the day, no matter how little you’ve slept. You need a chemical called adenosine to build up in your brain, which makes you fall asleep. This depletes after you’ve slept/had a nap so knuckle down and press the reset button.
15. Stop drinking coffee after 2pm. Caffeine stays in your body for 8 hours (be careful of decaffeinated coffee as well, even that is slightly caffeinated) so have your last cup mid-afternoonish.
16. Remember – the worst that could happen, if you can’t sleep, is you’ll just be tired. Yeah, it’s not ideal – but it isn’t life threatening either.