A First Aid Kit for the Sleep Deprived (or 'My Evening Routine.')


I have always considered myself to be a night owl. Perhaps everyone does going through their teens. I always anticipated there would be something magical happening the more the evening progressed into night. For a number of reasons, coming into "adulthood" has forced me to get to bed earlier at night.

1) Firstly, most of the jobs I have had has involved a 6 or 7 am start so getting those extra hours of sleep in has been a neccesity. (I have never been one for power naps.)

2) Furthermore, about a year ago I really, really struggled to fall asleep at night. Most likely because I was a walking lump of stress and anxiety, yet I knew that being deprived of sleep was surely gonna do more damage than good.

So I decided to really make an effort to get my sleeping pattern back in order. Sleep is after all one of those corner stones that enables other pieces to fit in this puzzle of life. But how does one go about it?

Alas fear not, I give you: My Evening Route or 'A First Aid Kit for the Sleep Deprived':

Limit Caffeine.

This one might appear obvious. And terrifying. Note that what I am saying is not "do not drink coffee. Ever again." but rather be aware it will take about 7 hours for the caffeine to pass through your system. As a rule I tend to avoid coffee after around 1pm just to be on the safe side.

No Screen.

Computer screens are designed to look like the sun. Now if you want to get a good night's sleep, staring into the sun might not be the best of ideas at 10PM. Try to eliminate any use of screens at least an hour before bed time. And while you do use it, install a software such as f.lux for your laptop and use a night shift setting on your phone, to create a warmer light that will not interfere as much with your melatonin.

Create a ritual.

Us sapiens sure are creatures of habit, so why not create a ritual of your own to tell your brain that it is time to unwind? For me, this includes brewing a pot of calming tea. Try something containing lemon balm, chamomile or valerian. I do try to leave a wide margin between drinking this tea and actually going to bed to allow the tea to travel through to the bladder; going to bed feeling like you are just gonna have to make a u-turn any moment to pee is not super calming.

The second thing I do, is to start an audiobook to doze off to. This is particularly good to drown out your own thoughts. My mind tends to be an overlapping mix of worries and hits from the 2003 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest... Which can tend to get rather mad, believe me! The only struggle here is to find a voice that is pleasant enough to be lullaby'ed by.

... Still in need of an extra push?

Purchase some capsules of Valerian root in your local health store. Valerian is a natural supplement that has been used throughout the ages to ease anxiety and insomnia. I love the drowziness this brings me. Allow 30 minutes up to an hour for it to reach its effect, then greet Mr Sandman.

That is it really, these days it rarely takes me longer than 15 minutes to drift off to sleep. Do you have any tips and tricks for how to get a good night's sleep? Leave a comment below. ↓