Friday, 22 January 2016

I Followed A Sleep Experiment for Kalms and This Is What Happened

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Sleep.

It's pretty vital to ensure good performance and a chirpy attitude the next day. Trust me, I'm a completely different person if I've only had a few hours of sleep. Groggy, frowny, lethargic, forgetful... doesn't bode well for a day of creativity, does it? 

My long-term health starts to suffer too, if I don't sleep well for more than a few nights. I've discovered that sleep has a huge impact on my psoriasis. Too little of it and the patches that have eased over the years will start to turn red and itch. A few good nights dozing and it'll calm straight back down. I suffer from migraines too, and lack of sleep makes one more likely to occur. We all need sleep. It feels so good, doesn't it, to be cosied up in crisp, clean sheets all warm and snug, feeling all sleepy and relaxed. 

But for many of us, with our busy lives, it's kind of a low priority. 

Kalms Night are running the Wake Up Ready Campaign which aims to make us more aware of the effects of lack of sleep. They sent me a sleep diary to fill out, which was a bit of an eyebrow raiser, to be honest. 

I always thought that I gave sleep a high priority. I generally go to bed early. But filling out the diary made me realise I was still getting disturbed sleep. (Note to self: going to bed at 8.30pm and feeling smug about it but then staying up until midnight looking at Pinterest on your phone doesn't count.) Here's the sleep diary I filled out, for three weeks, to give you an idea. You just rate your quality of sleep from 1 (poor) to 3 (good, when you wake up feeling refreshed). And then you rate your performance that day in the same way, from 1-3. After a while, you may start to see a pattern.




Apart from my smallest child waking me up with nightmares on the odd night at 2am (which you can't really control), I found I was checking my phone whenever I'd wake up at night, making me feel more awake and so making it harder to get to sleep. I was going to bed at different times. One night at 9pm, another at midnight. And I was waking up at different times. And then obviously there were those Pinterest Nights. 

Kalms have some tips for how you can help yourself sleep better. I tried many of them and it worked for me (especially staying away from screens - including my phone) after 8pm. I have a pair of blue-light blocking glasses that make everything look yellow but they help, too. And I started making my 'To Do' list at night (and keeping it downstairs so I couldn't add to it at 2am) so I was ready to go to work the next day. And because no one needs to be awake at 3am staring into the blackness of the night, figuring out how you're going to make eggless pancakes.  



10 Things You Can Do To Sleep Better

Try these lifestyle changes and you might find a good night’s sleep a lot less elusive. For some people it could be enough to fully address their sleeping problems.

1. Always get up at the same time - even at the weekend.
It might seem like you need a lie in to make up for the sleep you haven’t got, but to break a cycle of sleeping problems you need to train your body into a good sleeping pattern

2. Avoid catnaps during the day.
It’ll only make it harder to get into good sleeping habits.

3. Replace caffeine and alcohol with hot milky drinks.
Alcohol won’t help you sleep properly. If you are having trouble cutting out caffeine, set yourself a time in the day past which you don’t have it.

4. Unwind with a hot bath and lavender bubbles.
Both will aid sleep by helping you feel more relaxed.

5. Exercise during the day.
Exercising at night will actually make you more awake and you’ll find it harder to get to sleep.

6. Get to bed at the same time every night.
It’ll help your body prepare itself for sleep.

7. Make your bedroom a shrine to sleep.
No TV, no smart phones!

8. Alleviate your worries. 
Try writing them down before you go to bed.

9. Try a traditional herbal remedy.
Valerian root has been used for centuries due to its natural sedative effect.

10. Don’t lie there frustrated.
If you can’t sleep, get up and do something (non strenuous) for a while.

If you try to address your sleeping problems but your symptoms persist beyond 3-4 weeks, you should consult a doctor.

What are your tips for ensuring a great night's sleep? Let me know in the comments below...


This post was supported by Kalms

Have you seen the sleep program by The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne? It's called Go To Bed and it's a program that can help you regulate your sleep patterns, circadian rhythms and make sure your sleep is of better quality. Click here for more details