A good night’s sleep can be an elusive thing. We all know how important sleep is, and that when we are struggling with our mental health it is commonly one of the first things to go.
So what do we do about that?
The answer is don’t panic. The more you worry and try to control your sleep, the more elusive it can be. Our brain is an amazing thing, it will take your anxiety around not sleeping and interpret that as a danger signal. This interpretation will make your sleep worse.
Sleep psychology takes a nurturing angle to foster better sleep. A good metaphor is the humble house plant. A house plant requires enough water, sunlight, good soil with the right acidity and a bit of TLC. Crucially however, if you give that plant too much water or sunlight it will become sick and… eventually die. You need to foster the right conditions for it to thrive and grow. In fact, rumour has it speaking to your plan nicely can help it grow!
Good sleep requires the right conditions too!
You should have a wind down routine the hour before bed, no caffeine or nicotine for at least 4 hours before bed. Do not use your bed for anything that is not sleeping or sex, or your sleep will not thrive. The brain needs a safe place to rest, and if your work laptop is on the bed it’s going to stay in work mode. Similarly cut out your screen time before bed, so your brain can build up some melatonin to help you feel sleepy.
We call this sleep hygiene in psychology, but really it is a method of nurturing your sleep to thrive. If are looking for more info see the attached hand out. Remember even plants thrive their best when they are nurtured, you are no different.