I've never slept well, well at least as far back as I can remember anyway.
As a kid I remember bed time being a nightmare simply because I knew I'd be lying awake for hours at a time unable to switch off from the day.
I'd find my self lying awake over thinking things that had happened that day or pre-empting what tomorrow may bring.
As I got older I put this down to being a general worrier and over thinker and accepted that this was the way I'd probably always be.
Like any situation though, you learn to adapt and in to my teenage years I'd go to bed later and later (as most teens do anyway) on the premise I could be doing something productive instead of lying in bed waiting to fall asleep.
Although this was a solution and at the time a good one because it meant I could stay up to complete college work, it wasn't a long term solution or a viable one that my body could sustain.
Although luckily I've never needed huge amounts of sleep, over time my bed time regime of staying up until the early hours started to catch up with me, causing tiredness during the day.
I'd be unable to get up at a reasonable time, often sleeping right through until the afternoon on the days I had off college. Obviously this then caused a knock on effect and I'd find myself wide awake at night causing me to stay up late again and so the cycle continued, for many years in fact.
As I reached my late teens I'd come to accept that being tired was normality, having to conform to my working at the hours at the job I was working at the time meant I could no longer stay in bed until mid morning.
In my very early 20's my first daughter was born which meant even more erratic sleeping patterns as any new parent or parent to a baby / toddler will tell you.
It was with the birth of my daughter that something struck me, we put so much emphasis on the importance of a bed time routine for children but often over look it ourselves.
This got me thinking and I thought if I'm implementing a routine for my daughter why not incorporate a decent sleep routine for me too while I'm in the process.
My first task was to find out why I couldn't sleep. I booked myself an appointment with my GP to rule out any underlying medical reasons as to why I found it hard to sleep which luckily came back with no conclusive reason as to why I couldn't sleep.
I'd always say, if you have got concerns then don't wait for as long as I did before seeing a GP and not just relating to sleep either.
Now that I'd ruled out any medical reasons it was time to explore alternate ways to help me sleep.
The first thing I'd came across when researching easier ways to fall asleep was medication.
This was a massive no for me as I think taking medications (unless prescribed by a doctor) can lead to a slippery slope and we should be looking at promoting natural ways to fall asleep.
As you can imagine and like with any topic, the internet can be a complete minefield. After hours of research I'd devised a list which looking back on it is remarkably simple and is something I've followed for over 11 years now creating 11 years of great sleep.
It takes 21 days to create a habit, why not start the below tonight by incorporating this list into your night time routine and I guarantee you'll be sleeping better in no time.
1. Set the Mood
In order to help us sleep, our brain produces a sleep aid called Melatonin. Our brain starts producing this once the lights go off which is why it's important to stay off your phone for at least an hour before bed, this also includes TV and laptops. Top Tip - Cherries contain lots of melatonin.
Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature before getting into bed. For most people this is around 25 degrees Celsius.
3. Keep a Notepad Next to Your Bed
Those worrisome thoughts always seem to pop up as soon as you get into bed. Psychologically clear them from your brain by jotting them down in a notepad and worry about it in the morning.
5. No Caffeine
Ideally you should be avoiding caffeine for about 5 or 6 hours before bed for obvious reasons. The same goes for alcohol and cigarettes.
This should be an obvious one but bedtime starts well before we actually get into bed. Start mentally and physically preparing yourself for bed an hour or two before you intend to sleep by reading, listening to music or taking or bath or what ever other relaxing activity you feel like.
7. Noise Reduction
Again this could be an obvious one but ideally we all want uninterrupted sleep. If you are waking up in the night due to a snoring partner or a noisy road, i'd consider wearing a set of ear plugs.
So there you have it, 7 ways to help you sleep. Don't be like me and put it off for years, sleep is an integral part of our existence. If you can implement a sleep regime for your children, you can do it for yourself too.