According to studies, the Sunday blues usually hit us five-days-a-week-nine-to-fivers somewhere around mid afternoon every Sunday.
It doesn’t mean we’re unhappy in our jobs necessarily but it signals the end of the two days a week where you have more time on your hands to do the things and see the people you love. And if you’ve had an easy weekend with not much on the agenda and find yourself sort of…mooching along, the blues can wallop you earlier than usual.
As mentioned on my Instagram recently, I suffer from doses of anxiety so I think I’m probably prime real estate for the Sunday jitterbugs. My anxiety isn’t completely 9-5 related at all. Over the past year the health rollercoaster I’ve been on has helped to top up my quota of fizzy adrenaline pumping around my bod. I imagine it fizzes. It feels like it does…anyway…
My sleep issue is that I often wake up too early. I generally can get to sleep fairly easily at night but it’s staying asleep through to my alarm that’s the issue. Sometimes I wake up 2 hours before said alarm is due and then struggle to get back to sleep.
The cycle is very, very mean; thoughts lead to reaction planning and getting into protection mode so that i’m ready for anything. This leads to completely fake and maybe never-to-occur scenarios playing out in my mind. Before I know it i’m in the midst of the fake moment, dealing with an imaginary situation. And all the while life goes on around me. The bed is warm, the house quiet and my other half is calmly Darth Vader breathing next to me. I’m safe, my sausage dog is sleep grunting while the birds begin to chirp outside. The dustmen collect the bins while the 93 year old man next door starts to sing. As only he does.
But I’m utterly blind to all that because I’m lost in my head and the endless thoughts.
I’d argue that creative types suffer this more than others. Our imaginations literally run wild.
And its confusing for me too, as over the last year I do daily morning meditation and yoga. I am always learning how to calm stressful thoughts but in the very wee hours, sometimes nothing works.
But ultimately, falling prey to these Sunday downers each and every week is just such a waste of precious time and energy and I am finally putting some learned measures into place to ensure I am doing all I can to be as gentle to myself in sleep as I am with my morning routine (more on that to come, including an embarrassing selfie yoga vid).
‘Gentle’ really is the key word here. We spend so much of our lives in a hurry, with packed agendas, mostly serving everyone else but ourselves. It really rings true to me now that if you aren’t looking after yourself, you’ll be less valuable or able to be your best for the people you care for most.
So here are some things I’m applying, some more successfully than others, to my weeknight sleep routine…
Not eating after 8pm. Well, the main meal anyway. This means we have to have a clear idea of what’s for dinner each night as the earliest I’m in from work is 7pm. So some planning is required.
Little to no caffeine after 6pm. I used to be a coffee fiend. A drop hasn’t passed my lips in almost 17 months now. But now i’m aware of where else it sneakily resides.
No alcohol. Drinking before bed generally means we’ll not hit the six to seven cycles of REM sleep needed to wake refreshed. We’ll probably get one or two. So I’ve not had a drop thus far in 2017 and I’m not putting a time limit on when i’ll pour myself a glass. If I end up doing a year without it then so be it. It’s entirely possible and I’m the type of gal who once she’s decided something’s got to go, it’s gone…which leads me to…
Be gone with you, smartphone. Not so smart now are we? This is a newbie. In just the last week I now leave my iPhone in the spare room overnight. I am so sick of being chained to this little device generally. But it’s the Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook hoarder. And the ASOS shop . And the email machine. And the weekly food shop orderer. And the place where I’ve made 430 notes that are mostly to-do lists and half written blogs. And it used to be my alarm; the last thing I caressed at night and the first thing I’d reach for in the morning. I MEAN CHRIST. No more. How completely ridiculous. So I treated myself to a Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock at the beginning of the year in the sale and finally set it up about 10 days ago. It’s the one that simulates the sunrise before playing one of five plinky plonky sounds to ease you from your slumber. I opted for the piano and birdsong number. The first morning I woke up about 15 minutes before it was due to start gently lighting up. I was clearly nervous of the effect of it and as a result felt shit. The second night I woke up as soon as it started to softly glow. The third night I woke up when the light was at its brightest and just before the sounds were about it kick in – progress! The no phone in the bedroom at night thing is going to be a bit of a life changer I think. I literally don’t feel as hyped now it’s not there. I no longer have the urge to check my feeds just once more before I close my eyes because that would mean getting out of bed and it’s cold and dark outside of bed. I really feel much freer and now pick up my book instead and read a few pages of that before shut eye.
Essential oils. I’m a sucker for an aromatherapy scent. I blame our honeymoon to Turks and Caicos (blog on that here) some years back because the whole hotel smelt like a spa. So on my bedside table I have a little buddha oil burner that I drop Absolute Aromas ‘Relaxation’ oil into (with some water) before I go and wash my face at night. Scents the room up quickly. I’ve since read that if your pregnant, don’t use this. Some essential oils are so strong they can have an effect even if inhaled. So best to check with an expert on which ones are safe to use if you are with child. Tisserand do a lovely range of vegan remedies for relaxation and TK Maxx tend to stock them if you’re into saving pennies. I love their pulse point Sweet Dreams roll on and their Destress body oil.
Rescue remedy. Another new addition in the last 2 weeks is a couple of drops of Night Rescue Remedy on my tongue before sleep. This seems to calm me, but could be a total placebo. But no harm…
Sonos & the Spotify playlist. On the spa tip, we’re lucky enough to have Sonos speakers in our bedroom ceiling so I set a sleep timer and put the likes of Brian Eno on for like half hour when hitting the sack. Or a playlist I find by searching ‘calm mantra’. it’s the only playlist that will pop up from that search term.
Nutmeg milk or herbal teas – I don’t often remember to do this but when I do I think it helps. Nutmeg is supposed to help keep us asleep too according to Ayurveda. I haven’t cracked a nice recipe for this yet (I literally sprinkle some organic ground nutmeg into coconut milk in a saucepan) as it tastes a bit like soap to me. But hot milk is supposed to be the way to a steady sleep. I do however, enjoy Neals Yard’s Calming tea with Lime Blossom.
Supplements – When I was regularly seeing a lovely reflexologist last year, she told me about a friends son who couldn’t sleep. Turns out he was deficient in magnesium, as so many of us are. So the mum popped him on some magnesium supplements and that aided his sleep. So I take Wild Nutrition food grown magnesium before bed. And more recently have starting taking Higher Nature 5HTP which increases serotonin levels in the brain and helps to alleviate stress.
Bath. I’ve reeeallly got to be in the mood for a bath to enjoy one. Sometimes they make me feel too hot and a bit claustrophobic so when I do fancy one I know it’s because I must need it. So this is something I’m going to try and increase before going to bed, a few nights a week.
Sleep position. If I do wake up early and start overthinking, I flip over to my right side as you can’t feel your heart beat as strongly!
So, I haven’t cracked it yet but I’m certainly enjoying experimenting a gentler approach to hitting the sack and attempting to get into that 8 hour routine.
Happy Sunday! ;/