What is your pre sleep routine? Answering all those emails you didn’t get time to answer at work today? Watching the TV until you fall asleep on the sofa and then wake up in the small hours, trying to work out what that nonsense is that’s now on air? Getting in from work late and stumbling immediately into bed? If it is any of these things, then you should probably re think how you are preparing your body for sleep.
Getting a good nights sleep is essential if you are going to manage your fibromyalgia as best as you can. The first step to a good nights sleep is making sure that you have a quiet, dark, cool environment to sleep in, free of distraction and things that can potentially wake you. I wrote a post about this in March and I thoroughly recommend you read it before carrying on with this post 🙂 You can find the post here.
Once your environment is sleep friendly, you can then move on to what you do before you go to bed. Everybody’s pre sleep routine is different, but there are some basic things that I definitely recommend incorporating into your routine, and I’d like to share with you what I do. Also, when you start your routine is up to you but I recommend about 60-90 minutes before you plan to drift away to the land of nod. Also the time you will start your routine will be different each night, as you may have been for drinks with friends, or there maybe that final episode of your favourite TV programme that you just have to watch.
The first thing I do in my pre sleep routine is move myself away from blue light, which we have already discussed the pro’s and con’s of in a previous post. The reason for this is that the closer to sleep time I use blue light, generally the longer it takes me to switch off and drift off to sleep. It’s not just the blue light per se, but also the extra stimulation it can bring with it, such as bad news of an incident somewhere, or that email that comes in right before I need to go to sleep that I am thinking about and cannot possibly leave until morning to answer (and then find myself waiting for a reply that doesn’t come!). The easiest way around this is to simply ‘switch off’ which includes TV, computers and mobile phones. This way I have a good 60-90 minutes to process the last piece of information I had while using blue light and hopefully I will be at peace with whatever this is, which means I will find it much easier to go to sleep.
Equally, on the subject of blue light, I also start to shut out daylight which is a big source of blue light, to tell my body that it is time to start winding down. We have heavy lined curtains in every room in our flat so this is easy. We then tend to do things by candle lights or by dimmer light, to get the melatonin flowing, and to make the mind and body feel sleepy. Also, tooth brushing by candlelight is far more romantic than under the harsh light in the bathroom!
The beginning of my bedtime routine is also the time I am thinking about having m last caffeinated drink, if I am going to have one (which is hardly every these days). I don’t want that late cup of tea to keep me awake.
Next I move onto thinking about what I have on the next day. If I am working I generally try to sort out my lunch (which I’ve been terrible at recently) as well as getting the kids bags packed for school and uniforms ready. Do not underestimate the difference this makes to my day. I write a list of all those things I ABSOLUTELY MUSN’T FORGET on the notepad that sits on my bedside table. This tends to happen gradually as the evening goes on and as things pop into my head. By jotting them down I won’t be keeping myself awake telling myself that I musn’t forget. Some days the list is bigger than others!
I usually tend to potter around in this time too, maybe doing the washing up so I don’t have to face it in the morning, with some gentle music in my ears, or loading the washing machine ready to go in the morning. The key is to keep it mundane, the more simple and quite frankly boring the task, the better!
When I have either finished everything there is to do, or simply can’t be bothered to do anymore (which is dependant on the type of day I have had), I then think about getting ready to actually go to bed. I take off my make up, brush my teeth, have one last small drink of water, and go to the toilet, so that I don’t have to pee in the night.
Then it is into bed, and depending on how tired I feel, how much time I have or what kind of day I have had, I may do some mindfulness to de stress, do some reading (but not crime or horror!), or ask my husband to give me a massage if my pain is particularly bad.
By the time I have done all of this, I am generally very sleepy and finding it really hard to even keep my eyes open, in fact I often fall asleep during my mindfulness. I may be reading and the words become blurry because I am on the cusp of falling to sleep. This is the time, to seize the opportunity, to close my eyes and (hopefully) have sweet dreams.
I hope you have found this post useful, please do share your tips for settling down for a good nights sleep in the comments below, or over on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, I would love to hear from you!