Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The secret(s) to a good sleep...?

If you read my Twitter feed, you'll know that I am not a morning person.  This is mostly because when I do tweet in the morning, I'm on early shift.  When I'm on early shift, I don't sleep.  I mean, the eyes are closed, the brain is mostly switched off, but I can't sleep.  And when I do, I wake up every thirty minutes.  This causes the condition known as "Zombie Moogle".  I'm irritable, grumpy, I don't want to talk to anyone.

 This has been going on for pretty much a year now, and I'm getting a little tired of it, literally.  So whilst the lovely Occupational Health nurse continues to use my medical report as a paper airplane, I've decided to take matters into my own hands.  I came across this website, full of hopefully not completely useless advice - Sleep Tips Let's see how this goes....

Tip 1 - Keep a regular sleep schedule

* So the first points, "Set a regular bedtime" and "Wake up at the same time every day" are completely  moot - I start work at 6am on an evil early shift and 12:30 on the back shift.  Next!
*  "Nap to make up for lost sleep", trying to opt for a daytime sleep.  I think I've got that one covered....sometimes I can't keep my eyes open at work (obviously not when I'm driving....).
* "Be smart about napping, it can make insomnia worse".  Wait, what?!  You just told me to nap to make up for my lost sleep!  
Ok, so far, not so helpful (for me and my personal situation.  If this helps other people, I'm happy for you, really.  Actually, I hate you and I want to steal your sleep).

Tip 2 - Naturally regulate your sleep-wake cycle

Ah, some science!  More melatonin is what I need!  How do I get me some of that?
Increase exposure during the daylight
* "Remove your sunglasses in the morning".  Dude, I live in Scotland, what are sunglasses for? 

* "Spend more time outside during daylight".  Kinda in the job description.
* "Let as much light into your home/workspace as possible".  My office is a mobile greenhouse, if I hadn't stopped growing 15 years ago, I'm sure I'd be about ten feet tall with the amount of light I get at work.  However, when I get home, first thing I do is shut my curtains to get out of my sexy uniform and into something comfortable.  And then the curtains stay shut.  So that's at least something to look at. 
* "If neccessary, use a light therapy box".  An expense.  
Boost melatonin production at night
* "Turn off your television and computer".  Ooops.
* "When it's time to sleep, make sure your room is dark".  Ah, would love to do that, however, I decided to pick me out a router that thinks it's actually a disco ball....
* "Use a flashlight to go to the bathroom at night".  I'd like to say that I have not reached the age where I need to get up during the night to go to the bathroom. 

Tip 3 - Create a relaxing bedtime routine

* "Keep your room cool".  Again, live in Scotland, not a problem.
* "Make sure your bed is comfortable".  Do three comfortable blankets cancel out the first point??
* "Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex".  That'll be for sleep then.  (I feel these tips are mocking me somewhat....).
 * "Relaxing bedtime rituals to try" - reading a book, take a warm bath, listen to some soft music.  Finally, some things I can do.

 Tip 4 - Eat right and get regular exercise

They say 20-30 minutes a day should suffice.  With Tough Mudder coming up in August, I've been doing at least that, plus roller derby practice at least twice a week.  So maybe it's the diet..... 
* "Avoid alcohol before bed".  I have to say, I usually get the deepest sleep after a good drink.  But I can't exactly drink every night, not to that excess and not in my profession.  And supposedly it's worse for your sleep...
* "Cut down on caffeine".  Haha!  Guess drinking my body weight in tea needs to stop.

 Tip 5 - Get anxiety and stress in order

Ah, residual stress, how I loath thee.  But seriously, not too much of an issue for me.  Yes, I do worry, stress, rage.  But mostly, when my head hits that pillow, I just want to sleep, so I don't think about my day.  Unless I've had a really bad one.  But that doesn't happen often.  So, relaxation techniques to try:
* "Deep breathing".  Simple enough.
* "Progressive muscle relaxtion".  Starting from my toes.  Well, if the feet don't cramp up immediately upon trying this, I'll give it a go.
* "Visualising a peaceful, restful place".  Rivendell :)

Tip 7 - Cope with shift work sleep disorder

No, you're not reading wrong, I skipped Tip 6 because it's all about getting back to sleep, which I don't have any issues with, I just wake up again soon.
* "Limit the number of irregular shifts".  One week on, one week off doesn't seem too irregular.
* "Drink caffeinated drinks early in your shift".  Flask of coffee, coming up (Starbucks is both too tempting and too damn expensive to have every day).
* "Take frequent breaks and use them to move around".  Probably better than sitting on my arse, reading a book....(see Tip 3).
* "Make sleep a priority at the weekends".  Oh, right, my "non-working" days.  Excuse me, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Ok, seriously, there has been some helpful advice in there.  Some of which I'm hoping will make a difference.  I don't think the world is ready for me to spontaneously combust....


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