Hey guys! I hope you’re having a good day. As you may already know, I have a few chronic illnesses. My main issues are M.E and fibromyalgia, both of which mean that I really struggle to sleep well! M.E can really disturb your natural circadian rhythm and sleep cycle. On top of that, the extreme pain caused by the fibro can make falling asleep impossible at times! Over the last 3.5 years, I’ve figured out a few hints and tips which I want to pass on to you, so you can get the best night’s sleep possible. Most of the tips are relevant for those without chronic illnesses too, so read on!
This post has been kindly sponsored by Adjustamatic, who offer a range of reclining massage chairs and orthopaedic adjustable beds. Their beds and chairs are proven to offer pain relief for a variety of aches, pains and medical conditions (sounds perfect to me!) They are a British company who have been running for over 50 years. Very helpfully, they’ve made a video with loads of tips to help you get the best night’s sleep. Once you’ve finished reading my post (don’t leave just yet!) you can find the video here. There is lots of practical advice about the number of pillows to use, and how to position yourself.
How to get the best night’s sleep: my 5 top tips!
Are you ready to get the best night’s sleep in a long time? Then read on!
1) Preparation & Sleep Hygiene
You can’t expect your body to be ready to sleep the second you tell it to! Most of us expect to go straight from watching TV, using social media or playing computer games to fast asleep with no adjustment period. Things like scrolling through social media on your phone are actually very stimulating to the brain. You’re taking in a lot of information in one go, not to mention the light of our mobile phones or tablets telling the brain it’s wakey-time! Playing games or watching action/horror films etc can cause you to produce adrenaline, making it very difficult to wind down.
Try to set a routine that allows you to enjoy some down-time in the evening, without being busy right up to sleep-time. Leave between 30 minutes and an hour to concentrate on relaxing and getting ready to sleep. This can include things like having a warm bath, reading or doing some gentle stretching. Write down anything that’s running through your mind (to-do lists, if you’re anything like me!) This lets your brain switch off as it doesn’t have to worry about you forgetting. A routine is especially useful for people like me who are often bedbound. If you’ve been in bed all day, it’s hard to signal to your body that it’s actually sleep time. Having a familiar routine will help enforce the point, helping you to get a good night’s sleep.
Good sleep hygiene means keeping the bedroom cool (but comfortable), turning down any bright lights and putting away devices that emit any lights (TV, tablets etc).
2) Sleep Tea Blend
I discovered ‘sleep tea’ a few years ago and it’s something I’ve carried on drinking at nighttime ever since. There are lots of different blends out there, usually including sleep-promoting things like chamomile, valerian and other natural herbs. My favourite is Clipper Sleep Easy, as it’s infused with natural orange flavouring – it’s not really citrusy, just light and relaxing.
I will sit in bed and sip a cup of Sleep Easy tea around 30 minutes/1 hour before I want to go to sleep. I’ll usually read for a little bit whilst I drink it. I don’t know whether the tea ingredients themselves help me sleep, or whether it’s just the relaxing routine that helps. Either way, it definitely works for me – give it a go! It goes without saying that you should avoid any drinks that contain caffeine right before bed. If you can avoid caffeine for several hours before bed, even better!
3) Good Posture & Comfort
This is the key issue for me personally, and probably for most of us with chronic illness or any kind of pain. My pain levels are often worse at night, making it feel impossible to get comfortable. It’s very hard to get the best night’s sleep when wriggling around in pain!! Adjustamatic’s beds make it easier to assume the perfect sleeping posture. I’ve personally slept in an electric adjustable bed for around three months when staying at my in-laws’ between house moves. It was SO comfy! I used to have the top tilted slightly up, to raise my head without cricking my neck on a stack of pillows. I could also raise it to an almost sitting position to watch TV – perfect for bad ME days, when even sitting up is difficult!
If you don’t have an adjustable bed, there is still plenty you can do to get the perfect posture in bed. Experiment with how many pillows you find comfy – some like as many as three, whilst I only use one as I find any more than that hurts my neck. You spend 25 years of your life in bed on average (probably about 50 if you’re often bedbound, like me!!) That’s why it’s so important that you’re comfortable and well supported. Mattress toppers can be a godsend with chronic pain. I invested in one a few years back, and find my bed so much softer and more comfortable now, with less digging into my body.
In the video Adjustamatic created, they mention falling asleep cuddling a pillow (on your side). I do this most nights, and it really helps relieve some of my fibro pain. It holds the hips a natural distance apart and stops you hunching your shoulders forward/together. If you haven’t tried this, give it a go – simple but very effective! Each of our bodies is different, so it’s about finding what works for you.
4) No Pressure
Now hands up who else does this… everyone, I reckon! You turn the light off, check the time on your phone and set your morning alarm. You mentally add up how many hours sleep you’ll get if you can just go to sleep right now. No pressure or anything, but if sleep could just hurry up, that’d be great!
You lie there waiting and feel like it’s taking ages to fall asleep, so you check the time on your phone again. 2am??? Panic sets in!! That won’t be enough sleep before your alarm goes off. Now you’ll be really tired tomorrow, and you’ll feel rubbish all day and, and, and…!! STOP! There’s nothing worse than worrying about how much (or little) sleep you’ll be getting. Stress will set in, flooding your system with cortisol and making it even less likely that you’ll be able to nod off.
Set your alarm earlier in the evening, then try to leave your phone alone right before bed. Go to bed when you feel tired, rather than clock-watching. If you only do one thing, try to resist the urge to keep checking the time in the night. Not only will it stress you, the light emitted by your phone will make your brain feel more alert and awake!
5) Learn What Works For You
Although I’ve just given you lots of general tips, and things that work for me personally, you need to figure out what works for YOU. Some people don’t find baths relaxing, so having one before bed wouldn’t help. The biggest differences most of us have are how we like our sleep environments. I personally like the room as dark as humanly possible – not only blackout curtains but an eye mask for good measure! I also like as much quiet as possible, and the windows on the catch to stop the room feeling hot and stuffy.
Saying that, my Mum can’t sleep unless she can see a chink of light. She leaves a gap in the middle of the curtains to let some light in, and has her room really cold (to the point it’d leave me huddled up shivering!) Figure out what makes you feel the most relaxed and comfortable, and form a routine around that. Feeling chilled and comfy will leave you much more likely to fall asleep easily. And if you don’t? Remember, don’t panic! Try not to get worked up – chances are you’ll be tired enough the next night to fall asleep much more easily!
Sleep won’t always come easily, especially if you have chronic illness. Disrupted sleep often comes with the territory and will come in phases. Easier said than done, but try to relax and accept the situation – being annoyed or stressed will only make it worse!
Your Tips to Get The Best Night’s Sleep?
I really hope these tips have shown you how to get the best night’s sleep possible. Are there any great tips you use, that I’ve missed? Let us all know in the comments!Never miss another post from me! Click below to follow me on Bloglovin. If RSS or social media are more your style, check out my sidebar! Follow