Hello from GMHQ!
Today let’s talk……
I am the first to admit I love a late night when I’m catching up with my friends, however over the last 8 months or so the quality of my sleep has been awful and I thought this was normal…until last week!
Last Tuesday I attended the Royal College of GPs Life Style Medicine conference, at which we were asked the following questions….
1) How often do you go to sleep within 30 mins of trying?
2) How often do you wake up feeling refreshed?
3) How often do you wake up naturally around the time of your regular alarm?
For each of these questions score yourself 0, 1 or 2.
0 = Never. 1= Sometimes. 2 = Always.
Try it. Whats your score?
Last Tuesday mine was ONE. ONE. I couldn’t believe it…ONE. Okay, I was shocked. A score of 4-6 means you’re getting a reasonable sleep…BUT ONE.
A score of one suggests my sleep quality was poor, my sleep hygiene was poor and basically how to get a good sleep was a mystery to me and I needed to do something about it!
So that was the turning point. A moment of revelation that I NEEDED to sort out my sleep. Sleep was now a priority.
First things first: WHAT IS SLEEP HYGIENE?
This is a term that I’ve heard batted around more and more recently and the definition is: habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.
Secondly: What can we do to improve our sleep quality?
The main think I have found helps is the NO-TECH-90. This is no technology like phones/TV/Tablets etc 90 minutes before bed. Simple Right? This can be really difficult and I know it’s taking me time to get used to not doing my pr-sleep scroll down the old instagram feed. But seriously the nights I’ve given myself some time away from tech are the nights I sleep the best.
Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist, which means it literally blocks your sleep hormones from functioning, thus keeping you awake. The half life of caffeine is around 5.7 hours, which means if you consume 200mg of caffeine at 12pm, by 5.45 you would still have 100mg in your body! A coffee contains between 58-186mg of caffeine depending on if it’s one or two shots. So I’m sure you can see the problem! Try avoiding caffeinated drinks after 3pm, and this should give you the best shot at a good sleep.
3. Keep work outside of the bedroom
Though it’s usual for students and young professionals to work at desks in their rooms, this actually means the brain views the room as an active, productive place to be rather than a relaxing haven for sleep! I appreciate changing this may be difficult for many, as we don’t all have the luxury of an office, however I’ve just started working at the dining table…works for me!
Other things you can do: Establish a regular bedtime (as much as possible, we all have social lives!), have a pre-bed routine, and make sure you room is comfy, cosy and most importantly DARK!
My pre-bed routine now includes setting my alarms 90 mins before bed, phone on aeroplane mode on the opposite side of my room, writing down what I am grateful for in my book of happiness for that day, lighting some candles and reading. THE SELF CARE DREAM.
So 1 week on, I’ve had some of the best sleep I can remember, I’ve started again remembering my dreams (which are the most hilarious things EVER – one of my best friends going out with Craig David was a highlight), AND after 5 mins meditation I LEAP out of bed in the morning.
If you are struggling with your sleep: whether that’s getting to sleep, not feeling refreshed in the morning or just generally want to think more about your own well being, why not try some of these tips to improve your sleep hygiene!
I know I’m going to try my best to keep it up and will keep you posted how it goes…especially when I start shift work again on A&E in April #HELP.
If you have any topics you want to be covered hit follow and comment here! Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂
Over and Out
The Gym Medic ❤