Little Life Changes for a Better Night’s Sleep
[AD | This post is in conjunction with TEMPUR® but all thoughts are my own.]
One of my very favourite words in Scottish dialect is the word “wabbit”; a truly excellent little word that falls somewhere between “tired” and “run-down”.
“I’m feeling a bit wabbit,” you might say at the end of a particularly long day; or, say, at the end of a particularly long pandemic, during which all thoughts of self-care went right out the window, and everyone’s mental health took a bit of a beating.
Folks, I don’t know about you, but for the last two years, I’ve been feeling just a little bit wabbit; and it’s only now, as things finally start to return to something vaguely approaching normality, that I feel like I’m in a position to actually try to do something about it.
Now, sleep is obviously one of the most important factors in the fight against The Wabbit, and it’s something I haven’t been getting nearly enough of since… ooh, I’d say since about December 2017: which, funnily enough, is when Max was born.
Although Max has always been a pretty good sleeper (in the sense that goes to sleep easily enough, and rarely wakes up during the night), he is a very early riser, which means I have to go to bed much earlier than I usually would in order to get enough sleep to be able to get up with him and not feel like I’ve died in the night.
Did I mention I am Not A Morning Person? Guys, I am Not a Morning Person. I’ve always needed a LOT of sleep to be able to function the next day, but because I like to make things more difficult for myself, I’m not particularly good at going to bed early, either; partly because I really need the time after Max is in bed to work, tidy etc, but also because I like to lie in bed aimlessly scrolling through my phone for hours. Which is no good for anyone, really.
I find that my mental health really suffers if I don’t get enough sleep, but I’ve gradually hit on a few little things that have helped both my mental health and my general quality of life. Things like…
Starting my bedtime routine earlier
I know this sounds ridiculous – probably because it IS ridiculous – but one of the things that makes me delay bedtime as long as possible is the length of time it takes between deciding to go to bed and actually being in bed. I don’t think my nighttime routine is particularly long or complicated, but all of that time spent removing makeup, applying skincare, and taking the approximately 173 decorative cushions off the bed is time that would be much better spent sleeping, amiright?
And, of course, when you’re already tired, the very last thing you want to have to do is faff around with cushions and face potions.
Well, obvious-solution-is-obvious here, but, back in 2020, when makeup briefly became a Thing of the Past, I finally found the answer, which is to take my makeup off and apply my skincare as soon as Max is in bed for the night, rather than waiting until I’m so tired it feels like a monumental effort. I sometimes even remove the cushions and fold down the duvet, too, in fact. I might even get into my PJs, if I feel like living particularly dangerously, and seriously: GAME CHANGER.
This is such a small – and, as I said, obvious – change, but the deep joy of being able to get straight into bed without having to spend half an hour in the bathroom first makes it absolutely worth it. Trust me.
Getting the right pillow
Years ago, we stayed in a hotel in San Fransisco that had a “pillow bar”; so, basically, if you didn’t like the pillow they’d left you, you could just call down to reception and they’d bring you a selection of different ones to try. Again, this seems like such a small detail, but I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of a good pillow; as anyone who’s had to spend the night sleeping on a really bad one will testify.
The problem here, though, is that everyone’s pillow preferences are different. I, for instance, am primarily a side-sleeper, although I’m trying my best to be a back-sleeper, to cut down on the sleep lines. Tempur’s comfort pillow has been perfect for me, then, because I can squash it into whichever shape suits me best at the time. Its memory foam composition makes sure your weight is evenly distributed, so you don’t wake up feeling worse than when you went to bed, and the way it moulds to my shape really seems to stop me shifting around constantly, trying to find a comfortable position.
Oh, and it’s also excellent for pillow fights:
And for squeezing:
Seriously, though, this pillow is so squishy – as well as being surprisingly heavy – that it feels more like you’re hugging an actual person, rather than just a pillow. I had a hard time getting it back off Max when we were taking these photos, in fact…
I deliberately left the pillow uncovered for the photos, so you can see the removable cover that comes with it, but it fits inside a regular sized pillowcase, so you don’t have to worry about it not matching the rest of your bedding. Because we all know that gorgeous, crisp bedlinen is one of the absolute best things in the world, right?
Winding down before bed
Because we’re so short on time right now (Although Max is at nursery, it’s only a few hours per day), I spend most evenings working, and, until recently, I’ve been in the habit of working until bedtime, then going straight to bed and wondering why I can’t sleep. Well, surprise, surprise – it was because I wasn’t spending any time at all winding down before bed. Lately I’ve been making the effort to stop work half an hour or so early and spend that extra time reading (Books, I mean, not my phone. Because I’m sure no one needs me to point out that looking at your phone right before you try to go to sleep is Not the One…), and it’s really made a difference to my sleep.
Oh, and having an excuse to read a lot more books is pretty sweet, too, to be fair.
Being more active
This is another thing that everyone knows is good for them, but which some of us (ME) really struggle to actually do. The main thing that’s helped me become more active this year has been getting Terry on board with my plan. We’re both really aware that we need much more exercise than we’d been getting, so we’ve been making a commitment to go out for a walk together every day, come rain or shine.
We do this at roughly the same time every day, so it’s become part of our daily routine, and we’ve agreed that it’s absolutely non-negotiable; so unless we’re ill, or have some similarly indisputably good reason not to do it, we’re out there every single day without fail. (Because Terry was shielding for most of 2020, we actually didn’t get to go for daily walks during the various lockdowns, so we’ve not had a chance to get bored of it yet; ask me again this winter, though, and it might well be a totally different story!) As well as making us feel better in general, it also makes it easier to get to sleep at night when you’ve been physically active during the day – and all that fresh air doesn’t hurt, either.