One of the most important things you can do for your body is to get a full nights sleep. However, if you're like me and your brain just won't stop whirring this is easier said than done, so getting into a good night time routine is vital.
I always try and give myself one hour of wind-down time before I go to bed. This means I must stay away from the laptop (or any other bright screens) and let my eyes chill out. This isn't always possible, particularly if I'm going on a night out or have evening plans, but I always try.
Even if I don't manage to get the full hour to wind down, I always give myself the amount of time it takes to make and drink a cup of tea - specifically Pukka Night Time tea. It's made with lavender and chamomile, so as well as being caffeine free it is the perfect way to settle down. I give it a big sniff whilst I drink as it smells as delicious and as soothing as it tastes. Its also great to make sure you're fully hydrated before bed, and a warm drink is the best way to do this. Warm drink naturally relax you as they are closer to your body temperature so are less of a shock on your system. That's why you're given warmed milk as a baby!
If I do have the whole hour, I usually start of by washing my face and taking off any make-up I might have put on. It would be awful to feel really sleepy only to have to wake myself up by splashing water all over my face!
Having to entertain myself for an hour without a laptop or phone can be tricky - particularly as my laptop is usually my down time zone. There are a number of different things I like to do to keep myself occupied:
- Tidy my room. I'm a firm believer in the phrase 'a cluttered room is a cluttered mind', and living in a student house means that my room is the only real space I have any control over. As you'll have seen from my Home Hygiene post a few days ago, I don't always manage to keep my space clean (although, I did write that post three weeks or so in advance, and my room has stayed pretty tidy ever since). Waking up to a clean room is much less stressful than waking to a messy one.
- Paint my nails. I'm really bad at my nail upkeep. They're either splintering, cracked and stubby or huge great talons. I also bite the skin around my nails (disgusting, I know!) so they always look a bit of a state. I love it when other people wear nail polish but I rarely bother with my own. I'm trying to change that. A bit like wearing matching underwear, having painted nails also tricks me into thinking that I've got my life sorted!
- Write up a to do list. As you probably would have seen in my 'On Honesty' post, I am a firm believer in to do lists. It's so nice to go to sleepy knowing that you've got at least part of your day planned out, with achievable goals. Living a self-motivated life (like all students) its really helpful to plan things and set goals, however small, as it stops me from wasting days.
- Do any non-laptop based writing. This might sound ridiculous, but I find it so much easier to start writing with a pen and a blank sheet of paper in front of me rather than a huge white wall of screen. I think something about the word count freaks me out - and I'm much more likely to want to self-edit if I can backspace and shift words around rather than handwriting. I actually wrote this post up by hand in one of my hour chill out sessions. It can often take me between half and hour and an hour to get a post up, especially if it is particularly text heavy like this one! Its a great and productive way to fill my free time.
I always listen to podcasts to get to sleep with. Despite all of this wind-down, 9/10 my mind is still too awake to drop off, and I get frustrated lying down with my eyes shut not sleeping, which wakes me up even more! I can stress out about how long it is taking me to get to sleep, so knowing my podcasts are a set length takes that worry off my shoulders. I can't listen to music as I mentally sing or hum along, so background chatter is perfect for me. My current favourites are:
- Welcome to Night Vale. Set in the fictional town of Night Vale, this is a 20-30 minute long radio show. Its a bit like listening to one chapter of an audio book, and the narrator/main characters voice is really soothing. It is a little strange though, and gave me weird dreams for a while!
- BBC Radio 4's Friday Night Comedy. This series switches between The Now Show and The News Quiz, both of which are topical comedy shows about the weeks news.
- BBC Radios 3's Arts and Ideas/Free Thinking. They keep yo-yo-ing between what they call this programme, but basically it a discussion show which covers anything from political ideologies, plays, novels, art, and any bog concept. For example recently they had a show discussing the nature of Jewish identity, and previously they have had interviews with Sheryl Sandberg about her book Lean In. Sometimes the subjects are really interesting and I go back and listen to them while I'm awake, other times they're dull, but either way they send me to sleep!
Finally, I've started sleeping with my blind only 3/4 drawn. Waking up with natural light is so much healthier than being jolted awake by an alarm in the dark. At home I have thin curtains and an east facing window so I'm used to being woken by the sun. At Uni I have a small west facing Velux window with a blackout blind, so I've really missed out on the sun.
That's all from me! For more night-time tips and tricks, check out Emma Blackery's video (which was the inspiration for this post). Let me know if you have any tricks, either tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below. My next post will be tips and tricks for defeating a cold - I hope none of you have come down with the snuffles yet - and will be up at 9:30 am on Friday.