Creating a bedtime routine

When the clock struck midnight on 2017 I decided to not make a New Years resolution. In fact at the time I was probably drinking a glass of bubbly and wishing I was in bed already ūüėā. I decided that this year I would focus on my physical health, which as you may know, is problematic. Instead of overwhelming myself I decided that each month I would set one focus to work on. For the first two months l’ve done Veganuary, and tracked my water intake.

For March the focus was sleep and here’s what I learned by tracking and focusing on it.

Medication

In 2016 I wasn’t sleeping for more than 3 to 4 hours a night due to pain and mental health. Being that sleep deprived does bad things to your wellbeing and even worse things to a body coping with autoimmune. When I went into crisis I was prescribed quetiapine which was great as it knocked me out and calmed the mind. The pay off was sleeping ten hours, not being able to wake up, and being in a constant fog. I’ve had huge meds changes over the past 3 months and dropped down in dosage on tablets that help sleep. This means I’m sleeping less but naturally so this focus has really helped me focus on natural sleep.

Undisturbed sleep

So one of my worst habits is waking up at 3am and staying awake till 7.30 am. When you then want to be up by 9 this is no good. I often need to wee in the night and have a terrible dry and painful mouth. This combined with pain in my knees and ankles due to Behcets, or bursitis on my hips that creates painsomnia, means I just couldn’t get 8 hours sleep. The meds above helped but without them I am the most restless sleeper.

Waking up

So I always aim for the average 8 hours to get up around at about 8am daily. I’d usually use the iPhone bedtime alarm on the clock app but often I wouldn’t fall asleep in time, or I’d not feel refreshed from sleep when I did. I have restless legs syndrome so would find I couldn’t get off to sleep in time. I also used my Fitbit this month to track my sleep and found that my sleep was so restless. Not really a surprise, as I mentioned above, my sleep is so disturbed. But I also realised I wasn’t helping myself as when I woke up I would be tempted to watch something on the iPad to help me get back to sleep but it was doing the reverse.

So after all this trying to focus on the problems I’ve decided to try a different approach. I wanted to make a change to the way I get ready for bed so that I set myself up for a good nights sleep and feel more in control of the individual elements. So I created a bedtime routine and thought I’d share it with you.

Making your own personalised routine

So the first thing I did was to pick a bedtime. I chose 11pm so I could aim to wake up at 7.30am ish. Then I worked back in half an hour blocks to create a plan.

10.30 pm

As this is the bit right before bed so you want to be winding down. Take these moments for a last minute tidy, but nothing rushed or intense. Turn your bedroom back into a tidy sanctuary. I put my clothes in the laundry bin and make sure everything is hung back in into place. My clothes are sorted Marie Kondo style so it’s great to keep it this way. I also tidy away any beauty products and clutter from the day. It’s here I take my bedtime meds and then hop/ into bed with a podcast playing. Oh and I found the best thing for right before you settle down, a pillow spray by Feather and Down that helps you get off to sleep. It makes me breathe deeply to inhale the incredible scent which helps with relaxing. Set up your beside table to make this easier.

10pm

I chose this time to try to empty my head. I try to keep it simple and uncomplicated. In true bullet journal style spill your mind out onto a piece of paper > check your journal > make a to do list for the next day > fill in any habit trackers and memories/ gratitude journals. Finally I pack my bag with any books or letters and post needed for the next day. Set up a place to keep your things for the morning including a charging station for your phone and battery packs etc.

9.30pm

Stretch and move. I find a last bit of activity before bed helps to firstly make you feel like your body is tired and secondly helps hugely with restless legs later on. I love yoga with Adriene.

9pmScreen free time! Try as much as possible to cut out your screen during your routine. This is the hardest thing for me to do but it is well known that the blue light affects both our health and sleep patterns so I’m trying really hard. To force me off I use the app Moment. This sets bot a daily limit and screen free time. Try to do something enjoyable in place of your phone so you don’t get tempted. Like reading a chapter of that book you’ve not got round to, or grab that colouring book you were given in 2015 and never completed.

8.30pm

Begin the wind down with a little self care. Take your bath now, I like mine scalding hot so I can feel my heartbeat and my skin turns red. Apparently by raising your temperature in the bath it then lowers your body temperature when you get out and makes you sleepy. If you don’t fancy a bath or don’t have time make sure you take your makeup off earlier in the evening so you’re not too tired and give up when you crash into bed later. I’m also trying to get into the habit of getting my clothes out for the morning, the night before so I don’t have to bother in the morning. I use the Cladwell app to help pick outfits.

So that’s my routine. It’s ambitious I know but I’m dipping into it to begin with. I always go for the slowly, slowly habit learning approach. So maybe pick one of the things to do for a week. Feel free to make it your own and find what works for you. I’d love to hear about your bedtime routines in the comments.

We could all be a little kinder…

I came across this list earlier on Buzzfeed

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I love the fact it just asks us to spend a little time on ourselves before we hit crisis. I wish I could take my own advice. Slowly, slowly I’m changing my routine to include breathing and positivity. Todays tasks were to make candles, get the dogs back and watch Bake Off. Tick, tick and almost tick (it’s on in 10 minutes).

A lot of chronic illness comes with a spoonful of guilt. We let so many other areas of our lives slip so therefore believe we don’t deserve self care and kindness if we have cancelled a meeting or been late on an assignment. I know I’ve posted this before but it is so true: You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.

So I’d be interested to know what you do to take care of yourself?

P.S. Today I’m grateful for:

  1. The garden and it’s ability to keep on growing no matter what
  2. Rose – In plant form, scent or lemonade.
  3. The crisis team who are keeping me afloat

 

 

 

Digital Life | A Guide to Healthy Apps

I spend A LOT of time connected to devices. In fact I’m rarely disconnected and even find it hard to sleep at night without a film or podcast on. I always want to do a bit of a digital detox but fail miserably. Looking at it in a different way though there are lots¬†of apps, and games out there that are amazing. I thought I’d share my faves:

Pacifica | A CBT app for catching those thoughts

slides-moodWhat They Say:

MANAGE STRESS. LIVE HAPPIER. Daily tools for stress and anxiety alongside a supportive community. Based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & Meditation.Learn to identify and correct distorted thinking patterns.

What I think:

Pros: This is the most user-friendly and easy to use CBT app I have come across. Having explored CBT in ‘real life’ I have found it easy to continue to use these techniques within this app. My favourite bit is the Thought Tracker which enables you to capture your thoughts, then explore behaviours such as ‘fortune telling’ or ‘mind-reading’ (two of my habits). It then gives you the chance to turn these thoughts around to balance them. It also has a voice recording capability which I haven’t yet¬†tried out.

Cons: I’m not sure how this would be for someone who was completely new to CBT. I love it because I understand all the terms. I also feel the loss of someone human or a trained professional to guide you. They often will pick up on issues within your responses to thoughts and catch those places where you are still being negative. It’s a useful tool but not a replacement for real therapy.

Breathe | Mindfulness with achievement badges

What they say:

GET MEDITATING IN 5 MINUTES. EASY.With this app, you can develop and apply kindness and compassion in your daily life through a process called STOP, BREATHE & THINK.

STOP | Stop what you are doing. Check in with what you are thinking, and how you are feeling.

BREATHE | Practice mindful breathing to create space between your thoughts, emotions and reactions.

THINK | Learn to broaden your perspective and strengthen your force field of peace and calm by practicing one of the meditations.top-slide-1536.png

What I think:

Pros: I loved this app instantly on appearance and for the ease of use. The best thing is closing your eyes for ten seconds and scanning your body and mind. It then recommends you different meditations depending on your current metal and physical state. I also love the badges as rewards and have even woken up early to get the early bird one.

Cons: My only issue is that I seem to get the same meditations all the time which gets repetitive and puts me off.

Never Alone | Truly demonstrating the potential of games to create learning 

Nuna

What they say:

Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) is the first game developed in collaboration with the I√Īupiat, an Alaska Native people. Nearly 40 Alaska Native elders, storytellers and community members contributed to the development of the game. Play as a young I√Īupiat girl and an arctic fox as they set out to find the source of the eternal blizzard which threatens the survival of everything they have ever known.

What I think:

This game is utterly beautiful. It demonstrates the power and potential that video games have as an interactive learning tool. The storytelling is powerful, the game is absorbing and there’s a documentary thrown in there too. So far I haven’t found a con!

I’m also glad that the world is waking up to the potential of video games. They are not all unsociable and violent, but provide a creative and interactive platform for learning. TED talks have plenty of debate on this here.

My Pain Diary| a comprehensive diary to keep track of chronic illness

mpdiconWhat they say: CHRONIC PAIN & SYMPTOM TRACKER. Track one or more chronic pain conditions and keep your entries organized with Color Flags.

What I think:

Pros: This is a nice app with lots of detail. You first of all identify the type of pain or condition you have then add details. This includes adding photos, triggers, symptoms and even the weather. It’s helpful for me because you can download a report to take to the doctors or rheumatologist.

Cons: It takes quite a while to set up all the tabs for different conditions and options.

Daily Yoga | Easy to follow, high quality yoga routines

part2-bg.pngWhat they say:

The world’s most dedicated yoga app – fitness on the go!

What I think:

Pros: The routines are easy to follow with both written, spoken and image based instructions. Theres a wide variety of routines even on the free app.

Cons: If your workout gets interrupted mid session, for example a low battery, I cannot see a way to restart where you left off.

 

Headspace | Techniques and meditations to heal the soul 

What they say:

GET SOME HEADSPACE | Headspace is meditation made simple. Learn online, when you want, wherever you are, in just 10 minutes a day.

hero-get-headspace_1.png

What I think:

Pros: Like Breathe this is another great looking app with lovely design. The 10 day plan is easy to follow and a good starting point. Theres lots on the app in the free version to keep you going for a while. I like the fact you can link up with friends as this motivates me.

dfulnessCons: I got a bit bored after a while and felt reluctant to pay for it when there other free trials around. As a general point I love practicing mindfulness but find it difficult to concentrate when very anxious.

So these are my¬†5 apps or games. Please comment below with ones you love…