Long time readers of my blog will know how much sleep played a part (or rather didn't!) in mine and Tom's lives when we became parents. As most parents will tell you the sleep deprivation of a first time mum/dad is a overwhelming shock. With Wilf's sleep it didn't really get better for about 18 months, during which we took it in turns to sleep on a few hourly shifts whilst W took 45 min stretches throughout the night. He finally started sleeping for three hour stretches at two years old and now at three he occasionally wakes once a night and will get up around 6am.
In comparison to how utterly exhausted I felt as little as a year ago I feel like my sleep is pretty ok. Saying that I do wake every morning feeling like I could definitely do with a good few more hours. When Hillary's Blinds asked if I would like to take part in their 'sleep week' campaign to see how I was really sleeping and try to improve this I was interested to see the results.
I was sent a Fitbit to track my sleep patterns, my water intake and how much exercise I was doing each day. What struck me from seeing my results was that although I went to bed at an OK-ish hour and clocked a good amount of hours sleep a lot of those hours were restless. I did expect to see at least one wake up when I checked on Wilf at 6am (we give him some books to read in his bed and get to sleep an hour longer!) a lot of the time I was restless on my own accord.
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During the week I was asked to try out a few different techniques to try and improve my sleep which consisted of the following:
Re-designing / rearranging the bedroom into a sleep inducing environment – keeping it dark, using thicker blinds if you have access to them. If no blinds are available, use eye masks
· Switching off screen technology / reducing eye exposure to screens an hour or two before bed. This includes television, texting and using tablets
· Increasing the distance between your eyes and a screen
· Exercise during the day – earlier the better
· Use software solutions such as Flux to dim lighting on PC and tablet screens – more info here
· Using lamps and candles and dim interior lights to reduce the intensity of indoor lighting before bed
· Eat lighter evening meals – if not earlier
· Balance and take in fluids during the day
What I realised was that on days I was with Wilf I was easily doing enough exercise but on work from home days (two days) I tended to do very little as I was just at my desk. I also discovered that a whole day would go by when I hadn't drank any water that wasn't in tea or coffee!
I invested in an eye mask to see if it would help but found it a bit claustrophobic. I certainly agree that complete darkness is the way to go though. I know that even the slightest bit of light makes it hard for me to fall asleep usually.
Something I know I'm very guilty of is using screens all evening and right up until bed as the evening is the time I use to blog/catch up on emails and edit photos. I only managed to stop using them two hours before sleep on one night and read a book instead. It felt like I'd taken a holiday but I was extra busy the next day so I clearly need to work out my work/homelife balance a little better perhaps ;)
The last two days of the test week I was away in Berlin and so didn't sleep very well due to late nights and not being in my own bed (as comfy as my hotel bed was I always feel this way) so I'm not sure that really applies to the test but I barely racked up four hours on these two days and lots of restlessnes!.
What I have come away with though is a desire to take on some of the tips suggested above in order to improve my restless sleep and make me feel a bit more refreshed in my day to day.
What helps you sleep? Would you try any of the above or are you glued to your screen late into the night like me?
in association with Hillary's Blinds