The Importance of Sleep

 

A comfortable sleeping position...

sleeping like a baby (Jas Poole Photos)

 

We all know the importance of getting a good nights sleep don’t we. But I wonder how many of us are actually making sure that we do just that. I’ve never been a morning person, always been late to bed and late to rise, left to my own devices I’d be up til 4am and in bed til 12pm – but that’s just not how life works. So for pretty much the whole of my adult life (lets not talk about teenage years!) I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. Determined not to “miss out” on any fun by going to bed early, even when that “fun” may have been watching another episode of Midsomer Murders! And then I’d snooze my alarm til the very last minute the next morning, only just leaving myself enough time to have a shower, get dressed and run out the door.

 

But then something changed. I decided I wanted to become one of those beings known as a “morning person”. They used to be my nemesis, being all cheerful in the am hours, actually talking to me before I’d had coffee….”how are they so chirpy?” I used to wonder…”and why?”

 

I don’t know how this change came about, of me wanting to become one of them, although I have a feeling it’s related to my starting the Auto-immune Protocol. AIP places a firm emphasis on making sure you get enough sleep – and just this once the advice seems to have trickled into my brain. And stuck!  All of a sudden I decided I wanted to see the sunrise, to have enough time for breakfast before work in the morning and to not have to run out the door feeling totally unprepared for the day ahead. Seriously, who am I turning into??!!

 

My old methods of trying to get up earlier involved just setting my alarm earlier, thinking that if I get up earlier, I’ll be tired and want to go to bed earlier the following night, and the cycle will continue that way. But it doesn’t. Not ever!

 

I also decided a little while ago that I wanted to become “a person who meditates”. I had read about the benefits meditation can bring – clarity of mind, calmness, acceptance, inner stillness (they all sound like really good things, right?!) – and decided I wanted some of this for myself. I dilly-dallied by starting out with 2 or 3 minutes of meditation a day, telling myself I’d gradually increase it, but I didn’t. And then it just tailed off, forgotten about. I did feel some benefits for those few weeks of practice but somehow life got in the way and I just stopped doing it.

 

Fast forward to today and I still want to be a “morning person” and a “person who meditates” so I decided to combine the two. To start with, I re-set my bedtime for 9pm. I based this on wanting to get up at 6.30am and counted back from there – bed at 9pm, reading til 10pm, then lights out and meditation. Usually I’m asleep by 10.30pm now, so that gives me 8 hours sleep. If I’m feeling under the weather though, I’ll need to factor in extra time, like this week with the almond reintroduction debacle (you can read about that here) that brought back my hashi’s symptoms and meant I went to bed at 8.30pm last night. Rock ON!

 

How does the meditation fit in? Well, I listen to a guided meditation for deep relaxation from about 10pm, usually for about 30 mins before falling asleep. I then wake up refreshed (I never thought I’d say that!) at 6.30am when I get up, have a shower, clean my teeth, drink warm lemon water and then spend approx. 20 mins meditating before carrying on with my day.

 

Having a regular routine really helps. I feel like I’ve trained my brain to just automatically know what comes next, and so it just happens: “oh it’s 9pm, it’s bedtime” and off I go, then “it’s 10pm, I’m tired” and off goes the light and on goes the meditation. I still do have a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) by going to bed so early…..but I also know that this routine really works for my health and that I need to stick to it if I want to stay well.

 

It is still fairly early days, but even just 6 weeks on I definitely feel benefits from making these changes. I feel more organised in the mornings, I feel calmer and happy to start the day. I also have time to make breakfast, which has never happened before – and I really like it! I also like going to bed knowing that I’m giving myself enough time to have a good night’s sleep instead of mentally calculating how little sleep I’m going to get, knowing I’ll be exhausted in the morning. So, life is better with more sleep!

 

I’d love to hear any tips you have for getting enough sleep  – share below! 🙂 xx

 

Kirstie