5 TIPS FOR THE SLEEP DEPRIVED…

I am one of those people who really struggle with getting enough sleep. Every night, I lay in bed for hours waiting to fall asleep, I wake-up multiple times, toss and turn and then I wake-up in the morning feeling the opposite of refreshed. As with lots of people, this problem becomes a lot worse when high levels of stress are thrown into the mix as I cannot stop my mind from buzzing during the night and jumping from problem to problem which I feel like I have to fix right there and then, even if the situation is out of my control. My University exams are quickly approaching and I approach this period with a sense of dread that I will be a walking zombie throughout it because I will only manage to grab a few hours of sleep here and there. So here are five tips which I have been given along the way during my trials and tribulations with poor sleep which I have found really help if I actively discipline myself to act upon them rather than reverting to my own bad habits…

1) Do not go to bed earlier than you usually would

This may seem counter-intuitive because your mind tells you that if you are going through a period in which you are not sleeping well then you should go to bed an hour or two early to counteract your lost sleep. However, often your body-clock will not agree. Your body gets used to the time that you usually go to bed and settle down for the night and so even if you feel that you are tired enough to go to sleep your body may well resist you. Then you might start a snowballing feeling of frustration as you toss and turn in bed for longer than necessary and get yourself annoyed rather than relaxed which is obviously what you need to drop-off during the night.

2) Read for a bit

When you get into bed, don’t instantly try to fall asleep, give your body and mind time to relax and switch-off instead. Personally, I find reading very therapeutic especially if I am reading from a physical book rather than a device like a kindle. You do not have to work your way through masses of pages or delve into a heavy-going classical literary masterpiece, this shouldn’t feel like school homework or a burden in your evening. Instead, pick a book you find genuinely interesting and hopefully you will find yourself getting so lost in the words of the book that anything weighing your mind down will disappear.

3) Jot down a list of your worries

If stress is what is restricting your sleep then roughly jot down a list of bullet points about whatever is occupying your mind. Any thoughts that occur to you, just scribble them down and do not worry about writing in flowing prose or making grammatical sense, this is purely an exercise to relieve your mind of the issues which are bouncing around inside it, demanding your immediate attention and distracting you from falling asleep. Once you have written them down make a conscious decision to leave the issues until the morning and give your brain the chance to refuel and recharge during the night so that you can tackle them the next day.

4) Do yoga or stretch of an evening

Especially if you spend your days huddled over a desk or scrunched up around your laptop screen, your body develops a lot of tension during the day which can be another thing which weighs your mind down as well as making you feel uncomfortable. So, of an evening try to do a few stretches or, if you’re into yoga, roll out your mat and get to doing a quick twenty minutes of yoga to relieve your muscles of their tightness. Whilst you are doing this, focus on your breathing so that you give your mind a break from being occupied by stressful thoughts. This is also beneficial because it will boost your sense of accomplishment of what you have managed to do during your day if you can incorporate an exercise such as stretching or yoga which are both good for your wellbeing.

5) Do not clock check

I am awful at taking my own advice on this one! When I am lying bed waiting to fall asleep, my head pops up every ten minutes or so to check the time and I mentally calculate how much sleep I am losing and how long it is until I have to get-up in the morning. It is blatantly obvious that this is unhelpful. Constantly looking around at your clock is only going to build a sense of frustration and annoyance in you, as well as anxiety about the sleep you’re missing out on. In the end, checking the clock only makes you ruminate harder on your sleep problems which has the adverse effect of making them worse.

TIRED.

No matter how much sleep I get at night, I always feel so tired.

Tiredness follows me around all day and hangs like a weight from my chest which drags me down. It weighs on my mind and makes me slow to make decisions. My eyelids droop all day and tempt me to give in to my exhaustion; close my eyes and sink into a world of oblivious darkness.

I pour coffee down my throat in large amounts to try and make me feel more awake and aware. The only result of this is that I feel jittery, anxious and paranoid for the next few hours but at least this means that I am able to feelĀ somethingĀ that makes sense to me.

I schedule my day around my tiredness, knowing that I will inevitably not be able to do any work in the early afternoon because my concentration will have gone out of the window. Then, for some reason I will feel more energised after 10pm, meaning that I cannot get to sleep however much I know that I need to. Then I am forced to lie awake listening to the parties going on around me on campus and hear people’s genuine rings of laughter and uninhibited shouts of joy which makes me feel even more isolated.

TEARS HAVE BEEN SHED…

My mum came to visit me on Saturday.

As the day started drawing to a close and a blanket of deep blue was being pulled across the sky, I longed for that time not to end. I wanted to draw each second into eternity and ride in her car forever, spending my lifetime suspended in a never-ending state of sub-reality.

Coasting through the undulating countryside, I could see from the peaks of hills into the dollhouses in the valleys down below. In those little paper houses were people acting their lives; telling their children that it was their bedtime, parents easing open bottles of wine and families lying lazily in front of the TV. Moving along above them seemed so simple. My life was no longer entangled with theirs because I was not one of them. I no longer had to be a doll, play a part.

As we got more and more lost in the winding, ethereal countryside, my heart found more and more solace. I love to be lost. If no-one can find me and I can’t find myself then I will hang forever in that state. I will be a memory to everyone and devoid of any connections except to those I have with myself.

I began to imagine those films which are spun from classic books where girls wander in desperation through the desolate countryside, barefoot and bewildered. The only purpose they have to run away from whatever they came from, rather than running to any signpost or mark in the sand.

However, my mum doesn’t like to be lost so much. She wound the car through the intricate bends which have carved themselves through the sweeping carpets of grass and brought us back into the clearing. Then, the pouring rain matched the motion on my own face. Tears fell silently and absent-mindedly from my drooping eyes as I yet again began to detach myself from reality. She led me back down the dreary halls of my residence and I dragged my feet along the rough carpet. I shoved my key roughly in the door, distantly aware of the thumping music coming from somewhere in the background of this nightmare.

I had been returned to my cell. My room. My cell.

TIREDNESS

Tiredness is something which touches everyone’s lives at some point but every time it’s pressure reaches past a certain point, it convinces us that this weight is too much to bear. Tiredness has the ability to crush you slowly whilst using the guise of an everyday ailment which people tell you to ‘get over’ because it is a normal facet of everyone’s life.

Whilst fatigue cumulates and gains more form and substance, it seeps into more areas of your body and life. By the time it builds to become the figure of exhaustion, it takes the appearance of your body and replaces the ‘usual’ you. It gains control of your brain, growing small uncharacteristic errors in basic tasks to large oversights in life and work. It sucks the colour away from your skin like a parasite and gives you back in return lurid blue smudges under your eyes; the mark of the haunted. Your speech loses it’s once distinct character which is replaced with a hollow, unfeeling monotone whose small and lifeless outline barely reaches the ears of others.

Tiredness learns to live vicariously through you whilst also moulding you to it’s shrivelled and decrepit self.

Once it has enforced it’s own impression on your body, it tactically repulses or frightens people away. Short, snappy language begins to seep, like your own life force, out of your mouth and becomes an ugly couple with the ungainly appearance of a disinterested frown which takes residence upon your face.

Tiredness drives you to a place where it caNo Amount of Sleep...n have you for itself; doors and windows securely shut and exempt from the reaches of concern and worry.