Counting Sheep

It’s 3am and I CAN’T SLEEP!

Koalas are the longest sleeping mammals – they sleep up to 22 hours a day. Giraffes sleep the shortest amount, only sleeping in 5 minute periods at a time, totalling around two hours a day. Humans on the other hand, need about 8 hours of sleep a night which I never ever used to get.

The thing with a mind like mine is that it’s very hard to switch off sometimes. I can be absolutely exhausted but as soon as my head hits the pillow it’s like new batteries have been popped in my head and my brain is on high alert once again, making it very difficult to go to sleep.

I will never understand why I feel the need to find a solution for world hunger at 2:40am. Why do I think about a doctor having a heart attack whilst working on a sick patient with his team, questioning whether his team will help him or continue to work on the patient. Why do I think about the names of my future children, the probabilities that God exists, how the Earth will end?!

The fact is that none of these thoughts are going to help me get to sleep. They aren’t going to help me. Sleep is going to help me. Sleep enables our brains to recharge, our cells to repair themselves and our bodies to release essential hormones. Sleep is a win win win, so why does my body fight it?

I’ve been struggling with getting to sleep for years so have tried and tested everything that fervent googling has suggested and wanted to share what worked best for me in the hope that anybody else struggling might find some solace here.

  • Prepare the mind – At the risk of sounding like your mother, bright lights before bed are a big no. (I say writing this at 3am in the dark – oops). Bright lights or electricals will trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, thus making it more alert. Dimming lights in the lead up to going to bed will prepare your mind for sleep.
  • Sleeping Apps. – There are several apps available from the app store which are designed to help you to fall asleep. Musical interludes, the sounds of falling rain or a calming voice; multiple settings are available on apps such as DigiPill or Sleep Well to help you get to sleep quickly.
  • Audiobooks – Perhaps it’s the reminiscence of ‘story time’ as a child or the need to focus on the story as opposed to thoughts buzzing around my head. Either way, audiobooks from YouTube or Audible have worked wonders on me when I’m really struggling to get to sleep.
  • Lavender Oil – Lavender has extraordinary properties to soothe, relax and prepare the mind for sleep. A few drops on your pillow before settling down should really help.
  • Unwind – Having a bath in the evening or reading a book will allow you to unwind after a busy day. I often find that the depth of my sleep is reflective of how I spent my evening.

If all else fails, try counting sheep. I can’t do this of course due to my lack of coherent imagination (see post 1 if confused) but worth a shot for others.

This post is just food for thought and the overriding message is that we need to look after ourselves and, although it isn’t always easy, there are things that you can put in place so it isn’t so hard.

A piece of my mind for your peace of mind.

Image:  Beachhut on Hove seafront.

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