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Can’t Get No Sleep

Author: Miranda Eason

If you’ve been reading Rock My Style from the beginning you might remember that I wrote a post about my ongoing struggle with sleep and my strategies to sleep better (if you haven’t and you’re interested, you can read it here).

Since writing that post my sleep has varied in quality but, having spent most of the past 12 months freelancing from home, I’ve been able to work at odd hours and catch up on sleep when I needed, no biggie and, tbh, all those sleep-better strategies I put in place? They’ve fallen by the wayside.

Like lots of people I’ve stopped drinking for January and, a week into the month, my sleep was better that it had been for as long as I can remember. I was feeling full of energy and all kinds of smug and was seriously considering giving up alcohol altogether apart from the occasional glass of wine on special nights out.

However, last Monday I went back to working 9 to 5, and my sleep is all over the shop again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving being busy, but I think my brain is finding it hard to switch off with all the new stuff I’m throwing at it to learn. And with my evenings and weekends set aside to write for RMS, there’s no time for me to catch up. Clearly I can’t have an afternoon nap in the office. Can you imagine?!

During the week I’m getting home from work, exhausted, around 7pm and it’s all I can do not to go to bed immediately. I don’t of course. That would be ridiculous, I’m not a toddler. Also I have things to do. Instead I aim to go to bed between 10 and 11pm. I fall asleep pretty quickly but then, with spooky set-your-clock-by-it regularity, I wake up at 2.30am and find it impossible to fall back to sleep until just before my alarm goes off (5.30am if I’m doing a pre-work yoga class, 6.45am if I’m not). And so it continues. I’m feeling increasingly tired and more than a little stressed about the situation, which I know doesn’t help in the slightest.

In order to try and get my sleep back on track I’ve reread the comments below my original post. On Jen’s recommendation I vow not to watch Pretty Little Liars immediately before bed. I’ve ordered some lavender oil to drop on my pillow as per Marianne’s suggestion. I received deep sleep bath soak from the this works range for Christmas as recommended by Sarah. Next time I’m in Westfield I’ll be stopping by the Body Shop to pick up their Deep Sleep Dreamy Body Mist and Comforting Milk Bath Float. Thanks for the tip off Laura! Kitty recommended getting a new mattress, which I’m desperately in need of, it’s on the list of things to do in February. And Hannah if you’re reading, can you put me in touch with your hypnotherapist?!

My sleep may be erratic at the moment but at least now I feel like I’m doing something about it. Anyone else struggle with their sleep? What helps you fall asleep and stay asleep? As well as dropping lavender oil on my pillow, I’m thinking about investing in an oil burner. Anyone seen any stylish ones? Also I think I need to drop the lavender oil into a carrier oil before burning it, or putting it in my bath? Can anyone confirm? And what types of oil work as a carrier oil? Any and all help, as always, very much appreciated!

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48 thoughts on “Can’t Get No Sleep

  1. I’m not much help on the sleep front, but I did spend an age looking for an oil burner! Why are they so ugly????

    Luckily I stumbled across this lovely one

  2. Aw Miranda that sounds like a total nightmare, sleep deprivation is a form of torture.

    You’d hate me as I have no trouble sleeping and/or staying asleep, I just can’t get up in the morning!!! however my daughter does struggle so I’ve read lots of info on getting to sleep etc. The point of this comment isn’t to boast I promise & I may be no help whatsoever but I came across this article during all my searching which may help & I couldn’t not mention it to you http://www.byrdie.com/how-to-fall-asleep-fast, my husband tried it & said it works. I guess at the stage you’re at you’ll try anything.

    Good luck & hope you get some sleep.

    1. Grainne, this article is amazing. I tried it last night. I remember breathing out the 8 but not much else after. I bounced out of bed this morning for an early morning gym class and that has never happened. Thank you so much.

  3. Hi Miranda,

    Sorry to hear you’re having problems with your sleeping still :-/ I don’t suffer from not sleeping regularly, but when I’m stressed out, really busy at work or know I have something important the next day I sometimes struggle, or spend the night dreaming about work related stuff in what seems like a really light unsatisfying sleep. Hopefully some relaxing bath milk and lavender pillow mist will help with relaxation but must reiterate about getting your mattress sorted. I used to spend the night tossing and turning and not able to get comfortable until we got our new bed/mattress. You really need to try them out properly in the shops (even though it feels weird laying on them for ages) and get in the normal position you would sleep in (side, front, back etc). Also, try to take someone else mattress shopping with you as apparently a good supportive mattress should leave your spine completely straight, ie you shouldn’t dip the spine in the middle.

    xx

    1. Great tips on mattress buying Kitty, thank you. Mine definitely needs replacing soon so I’ll be using them when I hit the shops! x

  4. Oh God, Miranda – you have all my sympathy…not being able to sleep is basically my biggest nightmare because I ADORE sleeping so much. My fiance says it’s sad it’s not an Olympic sport as I’d be a shoo-in. But not being able to get enough sleep – or knowing I won’t get enough coz of we’re DOING stuff – makes me moody.
    It might be a bit Catch 22 because they say it’s stress that makes you not sleep and maybe you’re stressed because you’re not sleeping so you sleep even less. My brother went through a phase of not sleeping and picked up some herbal sleeping tablets at Boots that he said worked wonders.
    Really hope you get some much needed zzzzs soon! I find a mid-afternoon nap on a Sat/Sun can be very helpful. 😉

    1. Kate I am exactly the same as you! If I know I’m going to have a late night because we’re out or we have people over and I know they’ll stay late I get a bit anxious about what time I’ll get to bed! I’m normally in bed at about 10.30pm and really struggle to stay alert and lively after this time!

    2. I wish I could sleep like you Kate/1 Will pop into Boots on the weekend and pick up some herbal tablets. I do like a nap of a Saturday or Sunday afternoon if I’m not out and about

  5. For a year now I’ve strictly had no caffeine after 6pm. That doesn’t mean no lovely tea or coffee though, Tetley’s decaff teabags taste exactly the same as the standard bags. Since implementing this strategy I’ve managed to get to sleep at midnight instead of 2am – perfect for me and my current lifestyle.

    1. Wow, amazing to hear that stopping drinking caffeine after 6pm has pulled your sleep forward by two hours Suzie. I try not to have any after 6pm, switching to mint tea in the evening, but it doesn’t always work out.

  6. I’m sure you do some meditation as part of your yoga practice, but so many people say mediation helps them sleep better. Headspace brand themselves as “meditation made simple” and I’ve really enjoyed their free Take 10 programme – https://www.headspace.com/

    1. There is usually meditation in the yoga classes I go to Katherine but I tend to do them in the morning. Thinking it would be a good idea to start an evening routine with maybe some (gentle) yoga stretches and mediation. I’ve heard such good things about Headspace, I really must try it.

    1. Ooh, yes, good point about leaving a candle burning Emma – the aroma stone and diffuser both sounds great alternatives. Thank you!

  7. I second Katharine’s recommendation for Headspace meditation app – it’s brilliant. And Grainne, just checked out your sleep tip and excited to try it myself tonight 🙂

  8. Do the ‘Epworth Sleepiness Scale’ (google it!) and if you have a result which is anywhere above normal, go and see your doctor! They’ll do all the standard blood tests to start off with and if nothing looks wrong, ask to be transferred to a sleep clinic 🙂 My appointment is in a couple of weeks, they’re testing me for sleep apnoea and I feel like I could have written your post!

    Also second Katharine’s Headspace recommendation – it’s amazing!

    1. I’ve never heard of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale Sarah, googling it immediately. Good luck with your sleep clinic appointment!

  9. I third Katherine and Maddy’s recommendation for the Headspace app – I have just completed Take 10 and now signed up for the full subscription. I mentioned it on Lauren’s post yesterday about Winter Blues too. It really relaxes me before bed and makes me shut off.

    I have also purchased a Daily Greatness Journal and I find that writing things down also helps me sleep as it feels like the stresses/responsibilites are elsewhere, if that makes sense?

    Glad you’ve been trying the lavendar oil, it does work and the smell stays in my hair the next day so quite calming at work too!

    As an aside, I cannot believe you’re original article was a year ago!!! 2014 flew by!!

    1. I have to try the Headspace app Marianne, so many people have recommended it to me recently! I definitely see how writing things down would help. I know, I couldn’t believe that post was posted a year ago either. It really does seem like just the other day!

  10. Hi Miranda. I commented on your last post as I too am a bit of a nightmare sleeper. I go through phases of sleeping really well but when it’s bad it is really bad! Having seen a hypnotherapist for the issue, one piece of advice seemed to strike a chord with me. Sleep is the most natural thing in the world; it’s what our bodies need and it’s the only way we function on a day to day. However society appears to have turned the idea of sleeping into a bit of a weird phenomenon. My therapist told me that the more we try to do to aid the situation with ‘stuff’ the worse it can become. It’s so hard but I’ve just tried getting into bed and turning the lights off. No oils, milky drinks or herbal remedies. That way it no longer becomes some sort of ritual and instead is just a normal process. If I get worked up about it and worry that I won’t sleep the next night it seems to get me into a bad patten. You sound like you’ve definitely got the right idea but I know how frustrating it can be xxxxx

    1. Hi Hannah, thank you so much for your comment it was so reassuring to read. I definitely see that creating too much of a ritual around sleeping could make the whole situation worse. A lavender bath at this time of year is lovely though! xxx

  11. Ah, I am the Jen who said to avoid watching things before bed! My sleep pattern still sucks as well, although I suspect being pregnant isn’t helping.

    Avoiding TV and looking at my phone before going to sleep helps me drop off, but I wake up at 3.30 often and can be awake for an hour or two. I do find it’s because I’m too warm sometimes so I often leave my bed and find somewhere else to sleep that’s cooler – either the spare room or the sofa. 9 times out of 10 I fall back to sleep almost immediately so it works. Although I don’t really know why!

    My sister swears by doing a small yoga work out before bed. I’m much more of a bubble bath girl!

    Good luck. It really is horrible not being able to sleep. Although the best advice I ever saw about it was in the editors letter for Glamour magazine. Jo Elvin said she’d had no sleep for days because of her child and a friend was meant to be coming round for lunch. In the morning chaos she forgot to cancel her friend and when she arrived, she almost burst in to tears at the thought of entertaining on no sleep. Instead, she made lunch, caught up with her friend and carried on with her day and it wasn’t until bed time that she realised how much she could do on little or no sleep. The article said that whenever she’s having a sleepless night now, instead of worrying about how she needs sleep because she’s got so much to do the following day, she just accepts that the next day might be tough but doesn’t get in to that cycle of worry and, before she knows it, she’s often back to sleep!

    Woo! Long comment!

    1. Oh Jen I feel your pain and I’ve heard how hard it can be to sleep when you’re pregnant. Hoping you get a good night tonight! Interesting to hear about Jo’s experience. It’s true I do just get on with things however little sleep I’ve had but it’s hard to remember that at 3am or whatever time you’re awake, when you’re desperate to get even just an hour more sleep!

  12. I also agree with the headspace app! I put my headphones in and fall asleep before it’s even ended! I actually struggle waking up in the morning but always find it easier if I use sleep cycle app, it’s monitors your sleep pattern and movement so it wakes you up when you’re in your lightest sleep state, I find it really helps! But as for staying asleep sorry I’m not sure about any tips on that 🙁

    1. Another Sleep Cycle fan here Stephanie! I’ve got out of the habit of doing it but I’m going to start again. I found it really useful to put in a lot of information about my day, how much exercise I did and when, how much coffee I drank, whether I had alcohol etc etc It was really interesting to build up a picture of what helped me sleep better (and what definitely didn’t!)

  13. Maybe I’ll weigh in here and give the clinical psychologist’s perspective… 🙂

    Firstly, sometimes we have some ideas and beliefs about sleep that can maintain problems (eg I must sleep X hours, I won’t function without sleep, if I lose sleep I have to ‘catch it up’). Ultimately, if we really NEED sleep we’ll fall asleep, but we can function on little if we must. Which brings me to…

    If you are lying in bed for hours and not sleeping, you could try staying up later and actually restricting the number of hours you’re in bed until you’re sleeping for more of them (all ideally, even if you restrict right down to something like 5 hours initially, and then gradually increase). Better to get up and do something and then be genuinely tired. Sounds counter-intuitive but it can be a helpful approach with clinical insomniacs!

    Good to think about basic sleep hygiene as per comments above but to seek help via your GP if things really don’t shift!

    Good luck xx

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Becki. All makes perfect sense. It’s certainly easy to get hung up on the amount of sleep we think we should get. So much of what I read says you should get eight hours but I rarely sleep for that long. Ever. Will try all your suggestions. Thank you! xx

  14. Watching QI helps me sleep ha ha. I really enjoy the show but Stephen Fry’s voice makes me sleep like a baby. Slightly weird, I know. But seriously what really helps me sleep is having an inviting bedroom – tidy, bed made/turned down as you like it, pjs warming, low lighting. I find doing this well in advance of going to bed so you walk into a space that just says ‘sleep’ helps get you in the right mindset.

  15. Hi Miranda – I find that reading for 10-15 minutes before bedtime helps me to sleep really well. I actually do notice the difference in quality of sleep on the nights where I have read for a bit to those where I haven’t (basically if I don’t I usually wake up in the night).

    Its nothing fancy, but it does tend to help me.

    1. I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading before bed Emma, but will try to get back into it and see if it helps. Thank you!

  16. SO familiar – I take magnesium before bed (obviously I’m not a doctor etc…) and find it really helps knocking me out, and makes my sleep better – I think I sleep deeper…might be worth a try?

    I also stop drinking caffeine by 3pm – otherwise I just lie there looking at the ceiling…!

    1. Ooh, thanks for the tips Charlotte. I’d gotten to the point where I was just having one coffee a day but now I’m back in an office it’s usually two. Sometimes more. Oh dear…

  17. If you want a relaxing bath before bed, mix a few drops of lavender oil with a tiny bit of milk and pour under running water – the milk helps the oil disperse in the water and release the aroma and beneficial stuff better

  18. Mix lavender oil with some sweet almond oil (or grapeseed if you have nut allergy) and massage onto your temples to help you sleep. You can use that to run in a bath too, but for a burner, it’s fine if you just shake a couple of drops into some water. Night-night!

    1. Thanks Denise, I really wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with the lavender oil. Will pop to Neal’s Yard at the weekend, I’m sure they’ll have sweet almond oil!

  19. I know this might sound obvious but have you tried reading before bed? If I have been working late it’s the only thing that will ensure I sleep through otherwise I am tossing and turning all night. If I wake in the night and struggle to switch off I just pop downstairs and have 30mins reading and find that helps. It feels like I am resetting myself. Fingers crossed something works soon. Xx

  20. I’m also a pretty rubbish sleeper, and have found the following to be really helpful (a couple have been mentioned already).
    No caffeine. At all. Cold turkey. I used to have a cup or two a day and be fine, but then moved back to Sydney (where the coffee is AMAZING but quite a lot stronger than in the UK). I could have a cup at 10am and still be wide awake at 4am. So no coffee, tea or even decaf. It was a bit tough at first, but I don’t really miss it now (after almost two years). I do occasionally smell my fiancé’s coffee if we are out, which is odd but also oddly satisfying.
    No screens for at least an hour before bed – not only tv, but definitely no phone in bed, and if you use a kindle, make sure it isn’t one of the fancy new backlit ones. The blue light keeps you alert and awake.
    Reading before bed really helps, but apparently it is important to use the same pillow configuration that you would use to sleep. I love loads of pillows on the bed, and used to read propped up on all of them, before throwing all but one on the floor to sleep with. Now when I read with just my “sleeping pillow” I tend to drift off after about 10 minutes.
    And I second the ‘move to a cool room’ if all else fails. My fiancé is a bit of a hot water bottle, so if I’m awake at 2am and not drifting back off, heading to the spare room really works.
    Sweet dreams (and sorry for the essay, but I really feel your pain!) x

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