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Let's Talk: Techniques For Improving Sleep

Wednesday, 23 August 2017


I can't tell you how many times I've googled "how to get a good nights sleep". For the past few years sleep has been a huge issue for me. I wake up at least 3 times a night and can often be lying awake for more than an hour. I feel like I've tried everything for helping my sleeping pattern. Herbal sleep aids, pillow sprays, natural relaxation spotify playlists. AND NONE OF IT WORKS FOR ME. However, since seeing a therapist for anxiety and depression, I've learnt a lot about sleep and how to improve the quality of it. It's something that I really focus on in CBT because it has a huge impact on my mood and can often make my anxiety worse. Here are some things that help a better nights sleep (well for me anyway, but it could help you as well).

1) Ditch The Phone
For a really long time I'd roll my eyes when people would tell me that I shouldn't use my phone before bed. I convinced myself it didn't make a difference. One of my new year's resolutions was to not go on my phone for an hour before bed and, although there definitely are times I watch too much youtube before going to sleep, the time away from my phone before bed has affected how I sleep. It's definitely meant I get off to sleep quicker because my mind isn't thinking about my phone or what I've just scrolled past online or a conversation I've just had on whatsapp. The science behind it proves it. The light from phones is “short-wavelength-enriched,” meaning it has a higher concentration of blue light and blue light affects levels of the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. Less melatonin means less sleep. Science with liv.


2) Mindfullness Apps
So, I guess this kind of contradicts that first point but you're not actually on your phone. I use an app called SmilingMind which has loads of different audio clips that are based on this idea of mindfullness. If you're not familiar with it, mindfullness is a concept that helps you tune into yourself and focus completely on one thing at a time. It's great for relaxation so in turn, is great for sleep. There are different sessions but the one suggested to me for sleep is called the body scan. Yeah I was sceptical at first too and thought it was just a strange branch of meditation but it's actually great. I will mention that this particular app features some very cheesy Australian voices on the audio but you do get used to it. Before sleeping, it gets you to fully focus on just one body part at a time and gets you to imagine different scenarios. I find the whole thing really interesting and it definitely makes me more sleepy.

3) Medication
Now, hear me out. Obviously I'm not here to start converting people and influence them to start taking anti-depressants but from my personal experience, they've been quite life changing not just for my mood, but for sleep as well. Since being on these tablets (fluoxetine AKA prozac) I've noticed extreme changes regarding sleep. I wake up less often in the night and am able to go back to sleep easily instead of being awake for long periods of time. I'd definitely say do your research and speak to a doctor in depth if you're thinking of going down the medication route. It was kind of a last resort for me and I was reluctant to take them for months but they've really improved my circumstances. One thing I will say is that they've really affected my dreams. I thought it was just me but I spoke to the doctor and apparently it's a really common side affect to have extremely strange and vivid dreams. It's to do with REM sleep and chemical changes in the brain. I find the science behind dreams so fascinating so finding out about how medication can affect your hormones in your brain and consequently the content of your dreams, was very interesting. 

4) Get Up And Do Something Until You Feel Sleepy
In the past I would've opposed this completely and said it would make you feel more awake but it actually doesn't. The idea is that if you can't get off to sleep or wake up in the night you shouldn't just lay in bed waiting to fall asleep. You should actually get up and do something that will require you using your hands and your head. Like reading a newspaper or book for example. The reason being, if you just stay in bed waiting to fall asleep your brain will subconsciously associate your bed with lack of sleep, worrying, and thinking. Apparently you should also avoid watching TV in bed because it can associate it with not sleeping. Makes sense when you think about it.

Do you have any methods of improving sleep that actually work? Counting sheep just doesn't cut it.

Liv x

4 comments:

  1. I'm really struggling with sleep at the moment, so this is really helpful! I need to start putting my phone down earlier for sure xx

    Hannah | luxuryblush

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    1. It's rubbish to struggle with sleep, hope that it changes soon for you!! It really makes a difference xx

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  2. Great tips, Liv. I must try that mindfulness app, hopefully it will help me with my sleep issues. Thanks for sharing xx

    Indie// In Search of the Holy Grail

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    1. There are so many out there to try!! Hope it helps xx

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