The importance of catching Z’s

The other day, whilst sat in the staff room, glugging back a hot milky coffee, thick with sugar, I overheard my colleague remark that he had gone to bed the night before at 8.30pm. Upon hearing this I immediately developed serious sleep envy because at that precise moment (hence the caffeine) I was lagging. A lot.

It turns out that you need a lot of energy when you work with children. Who’d have thought it eh?

And that morning, yawning loudly as I tried to understand the difference between a Polygon and a Quadrilateral (please don’t ask me, because I’d struggle to tell you!) I would have loved nothing more than to crawl back into my bed, snuggle down under the warm covers and sleep the day away.

Because when you have to slap your face 53 times just to stay awake at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday morning, or seriously consider propping your eyelids open with berol felt tip pens, then it’s probably time to re-evaluate the amount of winks you’re getting of a night.

I’ve always been someone who needs a good slice of sleep at night. And without it, my mood plummets. I become irritable, more susceptible to episodes of getting flustered and stressed, I think more irrationally and I’m possibly even more emotional than normal.

I’m pretty certain that my bout of depression last year was partly due to the fact that I was absolutely exhausted. I routinely went to the office an hour and a half earlier in the morning and left a good two hours later than I should have. To some extent that is the expectation when you work in London. It’s the norm to regularly work extra hours, in fact it’s expected and I found there was a pressure to conform to this rather unhealthy lifestyle. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t fall asleep on the train. And I don’t mean a light cat nap either, I mean full on, mouth open, unashamedly-snoring kind of falling asleep. I’d wake up just in time for my stop, heart racing, feeling worse than before, staggering home under the weight of the day – to get through the door that I’d left 14 hours earlier – at 8pm, hungry and cross from the commute. It’s really not good for our mental health to be so constantly worn out. Or for our physical health either. We need sleep to recover.

But even with a change of job, a change of pace, I feel more tired than ever. And hearing that my colleague crept into his duvet nest at a time when I was still running around my house like a headless chicken, trying to figure out how to make this blog even a teeny bit successful, berating myself for stopping to catch my breath on my run and attempting to maintain a social life. As cliché as it sounds, there is so little time and so much to do. Oh, look I’ve gone all Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen on you.

And I guess that’s why we push sleep back so often. It’s boring, if we’re asleep then we can’t be doing, moving, making, instead we’re essentially unconscious and incoherent for a whole chunk of time. But what I’ve come to realise is, it isn’t wasted time. It may feel like it when we’re turning out the light an hour or two earlier than usual, but the benefits of sleep make us more productive, give us the ability to think clearly, all the while making us less fallible and more reliable.

So if you, too, are looking to catch a lot more Z’s, then here’s seven little tips I’d wholeheartedly recommend:

  1. Hot Chocolate. I love the stuff. I like mine extra hot, with large white marshmallows floating on the top, their oozy marshmallowyness melting into the cup of goodness. I’d recommend making a super hot, hot chocolate and running a Bath promptly afterwards. Homemade hot chocolates devoured in a warm, bubbly bath are superior to any purchased in any Cafe or Coffee shops. If you have a chocolate flake or whipped cream to hand, then add liberally.
  2. A warm, excessively bubbly bath. There is nothing better. Stockpile some bath creams/bath bombs/bath clay/bath glitter/bath pixie dust; whatever floats your rubber duck and makes your bath as soothing and relaxing as possible; just chuck it under the running water and watch the bubbles fizz and burst into being.
  3. Your favourite book. I love reading. Like properly love it, so much so that there is not a surface in my room without an array of books piled onto it. I thoroughly enjoy delving into a new, unknown story, cracking open the spine and pouring over a new collection of words and phrases. BUT…if you’re tired an unfamiliar story will brush over your head and you’ll end up re-reading all the headway you made another day. And well, that’s just plain irritating. So pick up an old trusted favourite, e.g Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries or Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments. Pages you know, pages you love. Preferably read in the bath whilst slurping your hot chocolate.
  4. Clean PJ’s and Clean Sheets. There is nothing quite like sliding into a clean, freshly made bed, spreading your arms and legs out into a bed-sheet-angel, inhaling the reassuring scent of cleanliness. PJ’s are the best clothes ever invented, your favourite pair, fresh out of the washing basket is bound to send you into a sweet slumber.
  5. The window open, just a little bit. Just a tad, air circulating around your boudoir is good for your lungs…ok so I totally made that up. But I do love the window open, just a peep, it makes me feel extra warm and cosy under my duvet and also stops my room from stagnating whilst I’m visiting in the land of nod.
  6. Makeup off and face cream on. A clean face = a clean mind. Wipe it all off, every last bit. Replenish your skin with your finest moisturiser.
  7. Visit la toilette. Nothing disturbs a good night sleep like the need to urinate. Whenever I wake up in the night with the need to wee, I umm and ahhh and essentially persuade myself that I don’t actually need the toilet at all, for far too long. Getting up (especially in these colder months) in the dark depths of the middle of the night is horrific. Avoid fumbling for the bathroom light in a corridor of darkness and waking all your flat mates up with the toilet flushing, by going to the toilet right before you clamber into bed.

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And that’s it folks. It’s currently 9.30pm so I’m going to follow my own advice and hit the hay, oh the prospect of a long and good night sleep is an exciting one. What are your sleeping tips? I’d love to know, so feel free to comment below! (ooooh an unintentional and cheeky rhyme for National Poetry Day! How splendid.)

Sweet dreams to one and all!

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