For a good few months now (Well, actually they’ve been a BAD few months, if you want to know the truth…) I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping – both in the sense of getting to sleep and in staying asleep – so when The Sanctuary Spa got in touch and asked if I’d like to try some of their products, I headed straight to the Sleep & Relax section of their website.
The most frustrating aspect of my particular brand of insomnia isn’t the long hours spent lying awake, listening to Terry snoring blissfully beside me. No, the worst part of it is that when I DO manage to nod off, I never seem to nod off completely: instead, I’ll go into this strange half-sleeping/half-awake state, in which I’ll be vaguely aware that I’m in bed (and allegedly “asleep”), but will be plagued with the thought that there’s something else I should be doing instead. This sometimes goes on for what feels like hours, so when I finally wake up, I feel like I haven’t slept at all. Refreshing it’s NOT; frustrating it very much IS, because if there’s one thing I’ve always enjoyed, it’s sleeping. Why did you have to go and ruin sleep for me, brain, WHY?
Anyway, after listening to me complain about this more than a few times, Terry finally got sick of hearing about it, and suggested I start a sleep journal, in which I would write down the details of these “waking dreams”, as I think of them, and see if I could spot any pattern in terms of what my day had been like leading up to them. So I did. Here are some extracts from my dream journal:
Another blogger has moved into the house across the road, and has asked me to help them with their blog. I agree to this, but instantly regret it, because now I have ANOTHER blog to update every day, and OMGSOMANYBLOGS. I lie awake thinking I’m supposed to be writing posts for this other person’s blog all night. So unfair. Why can’t they write their own blog posts?
Half-awake all night, dreaming that I am looking for shoes to blog about. Am starting to hate shoes.
I’m going on holiday very early the next morning, but haven’t yet packed. Every time I try to start, something interrupts me, until I get to the point where I’ll be leaving for the airport in half an hour, and I STILL haven’t packed. At this point I open the laundry basket and realise it is overflowing. OMG, I can’t leave until I’ve done the laundry!
Something to do with Instagram. I hate Instagram.
I am walking in the woods in the snow, wearing jeans. My jeans are uncomfortable. I remove my jeans. Now I’m walking in the snow and I’m NOT wearing jeans. I sure hope no one notices I’m not wearing any jeans! OMG, I AM NOT WEARING ANY JEANS!
My mum is angry with me because there are too many cushions on my couch. She says it’s “disgusting”. I try to remove them, but every time I pick up one cushion, another one appears in its place. OMG, THE CUSHIONS ARE ALIVE!
There were lots more where these came from, and apart from the one about the cushions (I mean, AS IF you can have too many cushions!), you don’t have to be Dr Freud to work out the issue, do you? The fact is, I tend to work late most nights. (Also, I tend not to wear jeans in the snow, apparently.) I’ve never been a morning person (Which I guess isn’t surprising considering I’m lying awake all night worrying about cushions…) so I normally use the mornings for chores, and other low-brain-power tasks, and then work until late. It’s not unusual for me to still be at my desk at midnight, and I’ll often go straight from my desk to bed, with absolutely no downtime at all. Then I’ll lie in bed scrolling through Instagram, or Bloglovin’ or whatever, because if you’re going to to do “sleep” wrong, you might as well do it horribly wrong, no?
Well, obviously something had to change, and by “something” I mean “everything”. My little experiment with the sleep journal confirmed what I already knew, which was that I’m just not taking the time to wind down enough before bed, so when I try to go to sleep my mind leaps around from topic to topic, finding new things to worry about with every second that passes. It was clear that I needed to create a new, most restful, night-time routine: enter The Sanctuary Spa, and their range of relaxing lotions, potions and other goodies.
Here’s what I’ve been doing in a bid to get a better night’s sleep:
1. STOP WORKING AT LEAST AN HOUR BEFORE BED
I actually find this pretty difficult, because when you blog for a living, you’re basically ALWAYS “working”, even if it’s just checking blog comments or updating social media. Speaking of which…
2. STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE
Seriously, Amber, BACK AWAY FROM THE FREAKING iPHONE. Just put it down! The world will not end if you don’t look at social media every thirty seconds!
3. AND THE iPAD.
Yeah, I see you there thinking the iPad totally doesn’t count. Well it does. Put. It. Down.
(This isn’t just from a “switching off from work” point of view, by the way: I’ve read that the light from devices like phones and tablets helps convince your brain it’s still daytime, making it even harder to fall asleep. So it’s a good idea to stay away from the ol’ devices for a while before going to sleep…)
4. CREATE A MORE PEACEFUL ENVIROMENT
This is one I’m working on, and as I mentioned in Saturday’s post, we have plans to redecorate our bedroom soon, and turn it into an oasis of calm. In the meantime, I’ve been using Sanctuary’s Relax Frangrance Diffuser and Unwind Candle (Which I obviously make sure I put out before I go to sleep, MUM) to create a little sanctuary of my own to retreat to. I switch off the overhead light and use the fairy lights around the bed to create a nice, relaxing atmosphere, which helps my brain switch into “sleep” mode. I actually find that the very act of lighting a candle has this effect, too – so I light up my candle, and I’ll maybe read for a bit (again, staying away from the iPad: I mostly use my Kindle, which doesn’t emit light) to wind down. (Er, I’ve also been carrying the diffuser down to the office with me every morning, like a character in a Jane Austen novel or something. But it smells so good…)
5. WRITE THINGS DOWN
My biggest issue, as I mentioned, is preventing my brain from diving headfirst down the rabbit hole that is “work”, and I find that if there’s something on my mind when I go to bed, or some un-finished task I need to complete, I will think about it ALL night, to the point where I sometimes think I’d be better off just getting up and taking care of it already. Instead, I’ve been following that old piece of advice to just write it down before going to bed: I’m a big fan of lists, so I keep a notebook by the bed, and as well as using it to write down those dreams, I also use it to make lists of whatever it is I need to do in the morning. I know this isn’t exactly ground-breaking stuff, but it does work, and if it stops me dreaming about Instagram all night, I’m all for it…
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really the type to wallow in a hot bath for hours (I’d much rather get straight into bed, and not have to worry about the water going cold!), but one of the good things about the “no devices” rule is that it gives me a bit of extra time for those little pampering rituals which I’ve been neglecting lately – mostly because I tend to feel guilty about lying around with a facepack on when I could be working. (I’m sure other self-employed people can relate to this!) Recently I’ve been using The Sanctuary’s 5 Minute Thermal Detox Max, which is awesome because you can actually feel it warming up on your face – that might sound strange, but it’s actually pretty relaxing, as well as leaving my skin feeling squeaky clean. I finish off with the brand’s Night Concentrate, which contains nourishing cocoa butter and pomegranate oil, to moisturise the skin overnight, and give you a better chance of waking up beautiful. Finally, the Nourishing Shower Crème is formulated to help “melt away tension”, and is a lovely, luxurious way to end the day.
Now, I’m not going to claim I’m now getting a perfect night’s sleep every single night – sometimes the lure of Bloglovin’ is just too much for me – but I do sleep much better on the nights I stick to this plan than on the nights I don’t, so if you have any other tips for me, I’d love to hear them! If you’re looking for more tips yourself, meanwhile, check out The Sanctuary’s Simple Sleep Equation, here.
[This is a sponsored post.]