I’m now three quarters of the way through the Sleep & Supplement Challenge.
I think we all know by now that it’s been a little trickier than I’d originally anticipated.
The plan was to figure out how to sleep better and consistently take supplements for long enough to work out whether they make any difference – in a positive way, obvs!
Initially Perceived Challenge Difficulty
2/5: this is the easiest of all the challenges I’ve lined up for myself. Uh-huh.
Currently Perceived Challenge Difficulty
3: the eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that this is an improvement on the last update. And the reason for that is that I’ve made a small but significant discovery in what makes me tick.
Last two weeks – What worked and what didn’t?
I *think* I may have established something vaguely resembling a bedtime routine. I’m regularly in bed by 9.30pm and although at weekends I’m not quite as strict, I still manage to make it by 10pm.
And you know what? It makes a difference. Only, it’s not quite the difference I was expecting. The truth is, I’m not sure I am sleeping an awful lot better.
I almost always wake up in the night and sometimes, several times. I also continue to have bad dreams albeit they may be a little more infrequent although every bit as disturbing as ever.
In these instances, I generally wake up a hot, sweaty mess and gasping for air. It’s probably because I cry in my dreams but the semi-paralysis we experience when we’re asleep (helps make sure we don’t fall out of bed!) doesn’t really allow for it so I’m in effect trying to cry with a lock-jaw. Painful!
Creating Healthy Habits
Anyway, the difference is in how I feel going to bed and subsequently how I feel when I wake up. I’ve managed to keep going with the sleep spray and foot massages and I’d say they have pretty much become habitual now.
I look forward to smelling the lavender and the feeling of relief you get when you rub your feet and you realise just how much they need it.
Now that I have this little ritual that takes about 2-3 minutes I can’t see me giving it up. I’m not saying I’ll do it every night for the rest of my life but most nights and for the foreseeable future which is good enough for me.
There’s something about creating a habit that takes less than five minutes that brings immediate tangible benefits that makes you want to nurture it. I guess it’s a kind of virtuous circle – the more you do it, the more you want to do it.
Introducing Sleeping Aids
I’ve introduced a couple of things into my routine that seem to be really helping.
Both need a little more testing time before I can be sure but I’m so surprised at the difference they make that’s it’s worth mentioning because even if they turn out not to be quite right for me, they may be totally perfect for you.
The silly thing is, you will already have heard of both. But have you tried them?
The first is a sleeping mask. Yeah, I know. I’ve always thought they looked stupid too and only really used by actresses (it’s always women) in films playing the rich, older woman trying to get her beauty sleep.
Unless I’m surrounded by people using them but it’s never come up in conversation.
I digress, as usual.
Anyway, long story short – awesome! Blackout curtains are good but sleep masks are on another level.
The only downside is that if your head gets too hot then the sleep mask becomes uncomfortable.
The best comparison I can give is if you’ve ever been in a floatation tank you’ll know that the sensory deprivation results in a lovely wave of relaxation passing through the body.
A sleep mask is like a flotation tank but with less water. Or float. And more mask. You get the idea.
The second newbie to my sleep toolkit is the use of sleep apps. I wasn’t sure whether it was a road I wanted to go down but the whole point of a challenge is to push yourself outside your comfort zone and try new things.
I want to try a few before giving any kind of verdict but right now, Sleepo is working well for me; the sound of rain always soothes me.
I *think* it may be working even better than the music but will write a post about it in a couple of weeks once I’ve had a chance to draw some proper conclusions.
As for all things vitamin – not much has changed since last week’s musings. In short, if I get my vitamins ready in my pill box at night, I remember to take them in the morning.
If I don’t, I don’t. It hasn’t become a routine yet so it’s still a work in practice.
Next Two Weeks – So Now What?
The sleep apps kind of took the place of reading but I’ve pretty much decided that bedtime reading isn’t for me anyway.
Not because I don’t want to but because when I read I tend to become absorbed in the book and that could easily lead to a later bedtime, rather than an earlier one.
So I’ve decided to incorporate reading in to the relaxation challenge, along with the coloring-in.
The one thing I’ve yet to try is the salt lamp and there’s a good reason for that – I made a big assumption which has turned out to be totally wrong.
I thought that it was something I would switch on at night only and therefore would be part of the bedtime routine.
Turns out that’s not how they work. Apparently, you plug them in and leave them on ALL THE TIME.
They work by ionising the air and they are supposed to change the ‘energy’ of the space they are in and are renowned for creating a calm, positive energy in bedrooms.
So, this weekend, I shall be plugging it in and letting it do its thing. If it works, I’d expect to notice a difference pretty quickly.
The only thing is, I’m not sure about sleeping in a room with a light on. I could turn it off but that would lessen its effect and optimal performance.
But then, I do have a sleep mask I could use…
It’s the little things that make or break the best laid plans. Who knew?
Ok, so pretty much everyone but still, you can know something without living it – that’s the trick.
It’s only when you put theory into practice that it becomes truly ‘knowable’ – because knowledge gained through experience is the best kind.
And whilst I can’t say, ‘Hey, look at me, I’ve discovered the secret to a perfect night’s sleep!’, it is beginning to dawn on me that if I want to affect a big change in my life, it’s the little things that will make it happen.
Like spraying a sleep mist. Downloading a free app. Counting out vitamins the night before I want to take them.
Because in actively participating in these very small, easy-to-implement behaviours, the more noticeable the effects are.
I may not have quite achieved the results I’m looking for but I look forward to bedtime and between going to bed and falling asleep, I’m aware of a transition.
One that is relaxing, reassuring and peaceful. I go to sleep with a more positive mindset and am waking just before my alarm goes off. I’m training my mind and body ‘how’ to sleep. It’s taking time and we all know my patience extends about as far as my nose but this is about change.
Positive, realistic, sustainable change. Nobody said there would be fireworks.
Very often it’s the smallest of changes that result in the biggest impact. And noticing those changes? Well, I’d call that progress. I’m now entering into the final phase of the challenge.
I can’t wait to see what other changes will occur. No pressure on the salt lamp then!