Dealing with long term sleep problems

You probably wouldn’t realise this about me but I’ve been dealing with sleep problems for nearly five years now. They started a couple of years before I started my business, flaring up whenever I had a lot of stress going on. Until recently, they had developed to the point where I could never get a full night of complete rest.

The first thing I would advise is to get in touch with your doctor and let them know the pattern you’re experiencing. Sleep problems can happen for so many different reasons and they can be indications of much bigger problems. That means there is a risk you are putting off getting important treatment or further tests because we’re all trying to be superheroes in a modern, busy world. Don’t assume that it’s not a big deal. This would be a classic example of me giving you advice that I didn’t take for myself. I regret not seeking help earlier. Please don’t make my mistake.

In addition to seeking professional support, I’ve built up small changes in my lifestyle that tend to improve my sleep quality greatly. I purchased lavender oil from Muji to use in my electronic aromatherapy diffuser. This is a little gadget that I obtained after we bought our house and it doubles as a soft night light. Aromatherapy for the home comes in many different forms, for many different budgets so have a look at what works best for you.

As I mentioned, my diffuser also doubles as a gentle, glowing light and so I realised by accident that night lights are not just for children. By now, nearly everyone is aware of the problems associated with the blue light from your phone and its negative affect on your body falling asleep. The benefit of switching on any available night shift mode on your phone is that it will switch the blue light to a warmer, yellow light at a scheduled time of the evening. Similarly, I try to turn out my bedroom lamps and switch on my aromatherapy lamp when I go to brush my teeth before bed. That way, when I come back to get into bed, the smell of lavender has filled the room and the entire space is dim and calm.

Ocean soundtracks, meditation and white noise are just some of the many things on the list of soundscape solutions I have tried. I’m of the opinion that there’s a different solution for everyone. For me, storm and rain soundscapes are the most soothing design for me. Others might prefer to invest in the Audible library of audio books. Phone apps for Audible offer a timer option which allows the phone to stop ‘reading to you’ at a scheduled time. I’ve fallen asleep to this app a surprising amount of times. If you like reading before bed, like me, it’s a way of avoiding leaving a bright lamp on or using a glowing phone screen to read.

My main advice is to seek medical support and to cultivate a routine that works with your body and gives it the best chance to drop off and stay asleep. If you are busy, working irregular hours or just can’t see that happening, I sympathise. I would only suggest that you imagine the advice you would give if you were talking to a friend. Frequently, we won’t prioritise our own health but we would encourage our friends to do so. Be a good friend to yourself and make time for ‘you’ wherever possible.

Jenny Edwards