No more sleepless nights..

Well a lot less anyway I hope if you read on. Many of you will, I hope, have read my first blog about leaving behind a stressful career in the law to pursue one which I would enjoy – personal training.

One of the main symptoms that I suffered from while practicing as a lawyer was lots of sleepless nights, or to give it the yet more anxiety provoking name: insomnia. It was not unusual for me to lay awake until 3 or 4am in the morning, unable to drop off as my brain seemed to kick back into overdrive. Thoughts would endlessly whiz around in my head until the small hours.

I followed the usual advice: no caffeine in the afternoon, a bedtime routine of hot baths, lavender oil, no electronic devices an hour before bed, counting sheep – the usual stuff, but to no avail.  There is a lot of advice out there about how to approach sleep problems, worth reading if only to reassure yourself that you are not suffering alone. Sound familiar?

However, I believe nothing is more powerful, or effective, than trying to look at the root cause of your sleeplessness itself. For me it was the anxiety my job was causing, and the inability to switch off from it all. I often lay there worrying what was required from me the following day, and the frustration that I wasn’t going to wake up having had eight hours of sleep and feeling refreshed to tackle it all.

I wanted to perform at my best, but hated the fact I couldn’t control something as simple as falling asleep. I am not suggesting everyone with a sleep problem needs to quit their job, only that if you too find the usual “hot bath” advice doesn’t work for you here are my top three tips for you to try:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even if you have slept poorly or feel you need to catch up on sleep. Only allow yourself a one hour lie in at weekends, if at all. This helps keep your circadian rhythms steady and your body clock regular – do not underestimate the importance of this.
  • Write a worry list. Get your anxieties out of your head before you go to bed by scribbling down a list of anything that is bothering you, and anything you need to do the next day. It doesn’t even need to make total sense, just scribble!
  • Keep your bedroom cool, around 16-17degrees. Your body temperature cools when you fall asleep and artificially triggering this cooling can help you to nod off. This is especially important if you suffer from hormone problems as imbalances can inhibit the sleep hormone melatonin from being produced. If you like to wrap up warm in the evenings, take a few layers off before getting under the covers to start the cooling process.

Please do feel free to share your own experiences along with any helpful advice in the comments section below, or if you have any questions for me ask away.

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