My anxiety has been particularly high the past few days and, as many of you will know yourselves, night-time can be the worst – when the distractions of the day are gone and you’re trapped alone in the dark with your restless mind and endless thoughts.
So I thought I’d share with you some tried and tested ideas on how to calm down, switch off and actually fall asleep at bedtime.
Take a bath
If you want to really go for it, invest in a bath caddy. They’re such a neat little invention, designed to help you transform your bath into a full spa experience. Get the bubbles up to your eyeballs and grab everything you need: your favourite beverage, a candle or two, all your pampering products from scrubs to scrapers and – if you need to maximise time like me – your iPad, so you can catch up on the latest Drag Race whilst you preen (just ensure you have a waterproof cover).
If you prefer something a little more low key, swap out bubbles for bath salts. Your wobbly bits will no longer be hidden beneath a sea of honeysuckle-scented foam, but actually it might be better for you. Bath salts supposedly offer a whole host of benefits from combatting stress and fatigue, to reducing inflammation and detoxifying the skin.
Personally, my absolute favourite bath is in winter: totally dark outside, the water as hot as I can handle, candles burning. Then I open the window. The biting cold winter air blowing in across my hot skin makes me feel both peaceful and alive.
Watch a film or read a book
This is totally down to personal preference, and can also depend on how severe your anxiety is at the time. I love reading but often find it isn’t enough to quiet my brain when I’m particularly anxious. I find that a film, with both audio and visual distraction, works better for me. That being said, be careful with your choices and make sure to avoid triggers.
Horrors are my favourite. Sometimes I’ll watch some generic crap where it doesn’t matter if I’m actually paying attention or not; sometimes I’ll rewatch an old favourite – I find comfort in repetition and often find I’ve actually fallen asleep before the end.
Put down your phone
I know it. You know it. But let’s all hold our hands up and say it’s the piece of advice we always ignore.
Crowbar that phone out of your clutching paw well before bedtime!!
Don’t allow your last lingering thoughts to be the snarky email in your inbox, or the photoshopped selfie of an instagram influencer wearing a thong bikini next to a Balinese infinity pool, when you just ate half a cheesecake in front of Bake off.
Get a routine
I don’t mean anything complicated – there’s no need to delay bedtime by two hours with a complex beauty and yoga regimen. Just a couple of simple things that are personal to you, and help remind your mind and body that it’s time to sleep, are enough. It could be taking your meds, stretching, moisturising, using roll on essential oils or reciting affirmations.
If your mind is still busy, try some soothing background sounds. I personally like the sound of a crackling fire or stormy night, but lapping waves, babbling brooks or even the lively sound of the rainforest work well. You can also find some brilliant spa or zen playlists on Spotify or YouTube.
If you’re like me and are prone to emotional triggers, steer clear of regular music where a particular melody or lyric might stimulate an unwanted response.
Try lulling your brain into a calm, pre-sleep state by playing little games or making lists in your head. I often play I Went To The Shop And I Bought… or the Alphabet Game, for example listing all the foods beginning with C or all the girls names beginning with S, to give me something to concentrate on other than my constant stream of thoughts. I guess it’s the adults version of counting sheep.
Tell me, what tips do you have to achieve a restful night?