Studying Mental Health Nursing I have heard a lot about the importance of ‘sleep hygiene’ and how a good nights sleep can create such a positive difference to your day. Although ‘sleep hygiene’ sounds really clinical and boring– it’s basically how to get the most from your sleep and achieve ultimate alertness throughout the day. Easier said than done though, right?
Everyone needs different hours of sleep to function throughout the day and, if you’re like me, you might still be figuring out how much that is. I am currently trying to organise my sleeping schedule, as my annoyingly loud alarm sounds at different times every single day (depending on my plans). Placement at university 5.30am, lectures at university 7.30am, work 6.00am, weekends with my equally lazy other half 9.00-10.00am (sometimes later if we are being really bad). The ‘Sleep Association’ conducted research to show that good sleep hygiene involves a regular sleep routine- sleeping and waking no more than 20 minutes earlier or later than usual. This sounds easy enough, but does that mean I should always get up at the crack of dawn? Without a 9-5 job this rule cannot easily be applied- but we could ensure that we get a certain amount of hours each night. My goal is at least 6-7 hours every night.
Time to come clean. Who loves a good old nana-nap? Sometimes, when I am feeling really worn down, I am guilty of this. I always thought naps were a bad habit- one that I have found myself trying to get out of- but actually I’ve discovered that a 30 minute nap throughout the day has been proven to increase performance, mood and alertness. Who knew? Check it out here.
I am also guilty of making a ‘cuppa’ before bed- coffee as first choice or tea if we are running low. As I am winding down in the worlds comfiest PJs, snuggled in my duvet and enjoying the soothing smells of candles and incense sticks I top this off with a big mug of caffeine. The substance I also crave to wake me up in the morning- great choice. As I am writing this I am realising how bad I am at following these tips -*cough* hypocrite *cough*- but improving my sleep hygiene is a personal goal of mine. So tip number 3 is to avoid caffeine for several hours before bed.
I went through a short period of insomnia earlier this year and a free app for Android was a lifesaver (i’m sure apple will have something similar too). Sleep sounds is a meditation app helping you to relax as you are winding down and there is also a timer that can be set so you don’t need to worry about turning it off. This doesn’t work for everyone but if you are struggling to sleep and have never tried this before it might be worth a try.
And finally, the one nobody wants to hear. Don’t use your phone before bed. I know this is the last thing the majority of us millennials do before we sleep, the cycle of our social media to double-check we haven’t missed anything since the last time we pointlessly scrolled, but it’s just a habit that we are used to. I still haven’t mastered this one- but at least I have something to work towards.
What have you found helps you to sleep?
Until next time,
Kayleigh Rose xx