A guide to getting a good night's sleep

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise;
Sleep, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby…….

(‘Golden Slumbers’, Thomas Dekker)

Sadly, sleep can be elusive to many of us at certain stages in our life. It seems the more we chase it the further away it slips. This can leave us awake at 3am, mind working overtime, frustrated and utterly exhausted.

And yet others maintain that they can function perfectly well on just a few hours sleep a night. And maybe that seems possible when we are young and want to go out partying every night with our friends!

As we leave our teenage years behind us (some of us a very long time in the past) we begin to appreciate the importance of a good night’s sleep for our physical and mental wellbeing. But life can get in the way... it’s not that easy to maintain the suggested 8 hours sleep a night when we are stressed and over worked. We can end up in a vicious cycle of being exhausted at night but at the same time dreading bedtime, feeling anxious at the prospect of a sleepless night and starting the morning stressed and exhausted as indeed sleep has eluded us again.

In his book ‘Why We Sleep’, Matthew Walker explains why sleep is so important for the healthy functioning of our body and mind. His research shows us how even dropping just two hours sleep a night can have an impact on our weight, hormones, brain function and memory. Even alcohol it seems can have an impact on our ability to achieve a dose of restorative sleep.

This book will certainly open your eyes to what can stop us drifting off so probably best not a bedtime read!

Practically, what can we do?

We can try to make our bedroom a haven of calmness where the brain expects us to go to sleep. Mobiles, laptops etc can keep us on constant alert and vigilant so maybe reducing our screen time in the evening and not having mobiles next to the bed may help.

And maybe we could change the way we regard sleep….maybe by not chasing sleep, sleep will come and find us. If you find yourself awake at 3am, maybe you could see it as a time just for you- how often during the day do we get a few hours to ourselves when nobody wants anything from us, nobody is expecting anything and there is nowhere we need to be. Bliss! And I bet in this state of bliss, sleep will come and find you quickly enough!

Night night…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz