Sleep can be a struggle at the best of times, but particularly at the moment at a time where our routines have been compromised and we have a lot on our minds. We asked Maryanne Taylor, Sleep Expert, to offer some advice to Watling Tutors families… Here is her piece for us.
“I often get asked what the secret is to a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer to this as there are so many different factors that contribute to our sleep. Sleep isn’t an exact science and we humans are not robots so the concept of a ‘perfect sleeper’ doesn’t exist. So, while I may not be able to provide a magic sleep solution, I can offer you some suggestions on some common sleep issues. You never know, these may prove to be your secret to a good night’s sleep.
I’m knackered and still can’t fall asleep when I go to bed.
- Give yourself some wind down time before getting into bed. We need to give ourselves cues to separate day from night, and doing some relaxing activities, such as having a hot bath or shower, reading, listening to music or podcasts, and relaxing exercises, helps us do that.
- Regulate the timings of your day to help maintain your body clock, which in turn, helps to regulate your sleep patterns. Set the same wake up time every day (and stick to it), regulate times of meals, and bedtime.
I can’t switch off all the thoughts and worries whirling in my head.
- Spend some time in the evening creating a ‘put the day to bed’ diary. Include 3 sections – what went well that day, what didn’t go so well that day, and a To Do list with short and long term goals. Just spend a few minutes writing down what comes to mind easily. You can always add to it later if you remember other things. The act of writing things down and seeing them visually in front of you can feel very empowering and help dilute these things from your whirling thoughts.
- Try a simple relaxation technique to relax your mind and body. ‘Equal breathing’ is a simple exercise which helps slow down your breathing, and subsequently calms the nervous system to increase focus and reduce stress. The exercise involves breathing in slowly for a count of 3, holding your breath for a count of 3, and exhaling slowly for a count of 3. While you are doing this, visualise your breath entering your body, running through your system and leaving your body again.
I lie in bed for hours tossing and turning.
- If you find yourself focussing on the time and doing a mental count of how many hours you still have left to sleep, either turn the clock away from you if you have one or, if you are using your phone, leave it on the other side of the room rather than next to your bed.
- In the evening, set up a ‘nest’ area, either in another area away from your bedroom or on the other side of your bedroom. Arrange your ‘nest’ with a comfortable chair or beanbag, dim lighting, and a relaxing activity such as reading, listening to music or a podcast. At bedtime or during the night, if you find yourself lying in bed for longer than 10-15 minutes trying to get to sleep, get up out of bed and go to your ‘nest’. Relax in the space until you start to feel drowsy, and at this point, get back into bed. This technique helps to calm the stress levels around not sleeping, and also helps reduce the association you may have established with your bed being a place you struggle with sleep. These associations can have a very strong impact on your inability to sleep well.”
The Sleep Works was established initially as Child Sleep Works in 2010 by Maryanne Taylor, a certified Child Sleep Consultant, to help families with their babies & children’s sleep problems.
In 2015, Maryanne expanded into adult sleep services. She has completed a comprehensive Integrative Adult Sleep Coach Certification programme and CBT for Insomnia training with the NHS, and she now educates, supports and motivates adolescents and adults to improve their sleep.
She is a member of the British Sleep Society and the International Association for Sleep Consultants.