Trouble Sleeping? Part 1

Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

We will all have the occasional night where we just can’t seem to get to sleep. Maybe you have gone to bed feeling really sleepy, but once the light goes out and the quiet of night fills the room you suddenly find yourself wide awake. You feel restless and just can’t get comfortable or perhaps your brain just won’t slow down and is determined to keep busy worrying about the day’s events or what is in store for you tomorrow. And the harder you try to get to sleep the more frustrated and awake you find yourself. Perhaps you lay awake until 3 or 4am before tiredness overwhelms you and you finally fall asleep? Does this sound familiar?

For occasional sleep difficulties here are a few basic tips which may help you improve your quality of sleep:

Don’t drink any caffeinated drink after 4pm

Have a relaxing, warm bath before you go to bed and allow yourself to wind down and let the stress of the day go.

Do not watch TV immediately before going to bed as it overstimulates your brain.

Make your room colder -Your body needs to cool down in order to fall asleep and stay asleep, so do what you can to make your room cool.

Stress causing you sleepness nights?

If worrying kicks in just after you close your eyes, schedule a “worry time” earlier in the day. This is a 15 minute period when you consciously try to think of all your worries and tell them to a trusted confidant and/or write them down. Getting your worries out and raising them to a conscious level can keep them in their place – during the daytime.

If your brain will simply not shut up then try this simple exercise: Imagine a chest of drawers, it can be as big or as small as you like, it can be made from whatever you wish (I use an old wooden one from my childhood bedroom). Allow your thoughts to come into your mind, and as they do, simply choose a draw, open it and place that thought in, then close the draw, knowing that you can open it again tomorrow. Repeat this until you find that you have no more thoughts or worries, and then allow yourself to drift off to a quiet and restorative sleep.

Keep a pen and paper by your bed, so if you do wake up in the middle of the night with an idea or if you can’t get to sleep because you have too many thoughts running around in your head then take the opportunity to write them down, it will reduce your anxiety and thus calm you down and allow you to drift off to sleep unhindered by unnecessary thoughts and fears.

Does this look familiar?

Sleep problems can be broadly categorised into three types:

  • Problems getting to sleep – lying awake and not being able to fall asleep.

  • Problems staying asleep, for example waking up early in the morning.

  • Poor quality sleep – not feeling refreshed by the sleep you do get.

In order to understand which sleep problems you are experiencing try filling out the sleep diary, it will help you identify patterns in your sleep cycle and your behaviours. This knowledge in itself will be really empowering and allow you to begin to take back control of your sleeplessness.

What does a good nights sleep look like?

There are different types and stages of sleep. We cycle through these during the night. These range from light, drowsy sleep through deep sleep to dream sleep, or so called ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ sleep. During these phases we physically and mentally recover. We process memories, heal and grow. It is essential for recouperative sleep that this cycle is occuring each night. Some emotional, physical or health conditions can disrupt this cycle e.g. stress or the pain from arthritis.

A healthy cycle of sleep would look something like the diagram below:

As you can see there are points during the night where you are almost wakeful and it is common that you may turn over during the night and be aware that you are awake momentarily then drift off to sleep again really quickly, this is normal.

Next installment – ideas for improving your sleep patterns

Thoughts and more thoughts and do cat have thoughts?

Fluffy asleep
Fluffy sleeping this morning

I was laying in bed this morning with Fluffy laying across my side purring and settling down for a snooze, after her habitual 5 minutes of head butting, meowing at the top of her tiny lungs and demanding to be loved, and she got me wondering… She seems so relaxed and chilled and happy, I wonder if cats heads are full of the thoughts that we sometimes get overwhelmed with?

I had been snoozing and considering all the things I aim to achieve in my life, to have a successful clinic or four or five where I can help make a difference in many peoples lives, writing my own biography as its been a bit of an interesting ride to get me to where I am today, writing for others, expanding my business to include support in other more practical ways, the groups I am in the process of setting up and planning, what am I going to do with the most recently completed diploma in clinical weight loss, whether or nor my husband had got to work safely, what a beautiful day it is and how much I’d love to take the day off and sunbathe, planning my day which will mainly be designing my website, then focusing on my clients this afternoon and this evening, writing a shopping list in my head, deciding that myseFluffy lf and a friend would make the best Pinky and the Brain pair ever, being thankful that minions were created because they always make me smile, recollecting my evening last night when I got to spend it with my three closest friends, all of whom trained with me; contemplating all of our journeys that led to today from when we met in 2009, between us we have experienced divorce, breast cancer, two diagnoses of fibromyalgia, two weddings, the care and death of two of our mothers, new building businesses and closed building businesses, new love, numerous house moves, living with the after effects of chemo, new jobs and working with our new realities and counting myself blessed that I have such amazing friends and that we always provide unquestioning support and love with no expectations just pure love and friendship, and my personal favourite, how long before my legs start working enough for me to get up! as I am one of the two in our group with fibro………

and Fluffy….. is she really just thinking about needing my love in the moment and is she really content just to lull herself to sleep to the sound of my heart beat as her purrs fall into pace with my breathing, or does she have a similar barrage of thoughts and feelings, I know one thing for sure, she never ever has a problem getting to sleep!

Welcome to my online world

My name is Ruth and I am a counsellor & psychotherapist based in Suffolk, UK, and this is my blog.

I share my home with my husband, Stuart who is my inspiration throughout all that I do, and it is only with his support that I was able to train and consequently am now able to work in the way that I do. I am blessed to have him in my life. Our home is never completely quiet we have 6 cats, a marine fish tank, 4 tropical fish tanks and my personal favourite tank which contains my musk turtle Hercules and my blue lobster Lobbie, and 2 outside ponds.

We love the tranquility that the fishes provide, even the gentle hum of the filters and their constant flow of water are soothing, our home is our haven away from everyday stresses and strains of the outside world, it is our sanctuary.

The only thing that occasionally disturbs this haven is our clowder of cats when they are being mischievous or on days like today when they are all inside and dotted on various surfaces to keep away from the rain, and the inevitable fight for the prize spot on top of the fish tank where its warm and cozy which happens as they take it in turns to be cat supreme!

I am looking forward to sharing my day to day thoughts and adventures of my many animals.