Tips for a better sleep

Hi sweethearts,

In today’s blog I’ll tell you more about my sleep deprivation (and sleeping problems) and how I’m dealing with it all. I had to make some lifechanging adjustments, but I’m learning to live with it. This blog is very dear to my heart and took me weeks to write it. I wrote it in different chapters and for each chapter, I did my research.

First of all, I’ll explain my sleeping problems and then I’ll share with you guys my personal helpful tips.

A couple of years ago I went to the sleeping clinic for a couple of days, to find out what was wrong with my sleep. My story: when I don’t sleep enough, my body just shuts down. I’m super nauseous and my head feels like ready to explode. Sometimes, it’s that bad that I have to wear sunglasses… yes, also at night. When I’m wearing them, people think that I have this awkward hangover or something, which is not because I never drink.

The symptoms are really similar to a hangover. It feels like a hangover, only not because of drinking too much.

The diagnosis I got in the clinic; nothing… I just need a super tight sleeping schedule and a lot of sleep daily. For me, it’s best to sleep 10 hours a day. This is a lot and is not always possible.

I learned to live with this. I don’t go out often, because of my problem. And if I do go out, it’s never after 11 p.m.

I’ll start with sharing with you guys how I live with it and the changes I made in my life. After that, I’ll share some tips.

* So as told before, I don’t go out often. That’s not too hard to live with for me since I’m not such a party girl. Partying just gives me social anxiety

Also: I learned that having a super tight sleeping schedule really helps a lot. I go to bed around 9.30 P.M. and I wake up for work around 7.10 a.m. If you do the math, this is almost 10h… In a dream world, I’d wake up at 7.45 to feel perfect…and awake haha!

* The first thing that helped me a lot with being able to cope with the awful hangovers: acupuncture. After a year of trying it out I noticed a big difference. I go to my therapist for about 5 to 10 times, for about 2 or 3 times of these sessions a year.

* Going vegan more also helped me a lot. Skipping the dairy is such a relief to me. I don’t feel nauseous anymore in the morning and I don’t feel bloated. I guess I was lactose-intolerant, without knowing it myself.

Now, I’ll share with you how I beat my anxiety and how I try to calm myself down.

* First of all: meditation. I already talked about it so many times but it is THE best way for me to calm myself down. If I’m not able to sleep after trying for a couple of hours, I always remember myself this: “Steph, meditation helps, now do it!”. After a couple of minutes, I’m asleep. ALWAYS. Yes, also on these nights where I’m just twisting and turning in my bed, not being able to calm myself down.

* If regular meditation doesn’t work I do this easy thing that I found on Google somewhere years ago. It really works for me. I focus on my breathing, while counting down from 20 to zero. Counting (especially backwards), helps me to focus more on the counting itself, which will lead to forget about the reason I was stressed about.

* Another tip for the brain: about fretting/ pondering. Make time to do this daily. If you are aware of the fact that you do this a lot, it’s already a beginning. I’m still learning to control my thoughts… but to me it’s been a start to recognise the fact that I do this… and when I’m doing it.

I add in my daily routine moments to let myself go and wonder about my life. Afterwards, I tell myself that it’s time to stop creating drama in my head and to let these thoughts go. Eventually, the thoughts will go away.

Just being aware of the fact that you’re doing it… while you’re doing it is already a big step.

* Then a tip a learned in my professional life (as a special needs caregiver). For kids (or even adults) with ADHD or autism, it helps to use a heavy blanket. You probably want to know what this is, right? It’s a blanket with extra weight in. It gives a more comforting feeling. You feel your body more and this will calm you down. The pressure is just the same as when your mom would hug you strongly as a baby… Last year, I even made a extra heavy teddybear for a toddler. It really helped him out to calm himself down in class. So how do I use it in my life? If I can’t sleep, I put my heaviest pillow right above my forehead. It gives such a comforting feeling, that I really like. My ex boyfriend used to calm me down with just touching me on my forehead…but since I’m single now, I need to take care of myself, right?

* My next tip is about my room. I really like to sleep in a super dark room. Why? I think that my melatonine level can be off sometimes so my head needs to know that I’m going to sleep. Melatonine is something we have in our brain, which regulates our awaken-sleeping pattern. During the day, the light needs to be bright, to create enough of this… and during the night, it needs to be really dark, to prepare your head for the next day (literally).

After 8p.m. I turn off the lights in our living room because of this, I’ll just use a small lamp to be able to see, but that’s it. Another thing I do for this matter: switch my phone to the lowest clarity level (the night stand).

* Now about food! I don’t eat or drink too late. If I drink before bed, I will have to go to the bathroom.. which will lead to a broken sleeping pattern that night…

I also don’t eat after 8p.m. Why? Because my body needs a lot of time to process all the food… Sometimes, after sleeping an entire night, it can even feel that just had dinner. This means that my body just didn’t yet digest all the food I ate.

If this all doesn’t work, you can always use lavender oil. Lavender oil is proven to have a calming effect. I use a few drops. I put the oil on my forehead and sleep, or on my pillow. I sometimes use the oil in a bath too, if it feels like my body needs it.

My last tip is something you can do after working out or being active late at night. The past few weeks, I was able to test it out for you guys. As you could see on my instastories; I had a dance show and had to work a lot for it the past few weeks. I had to practice about 5 days a week, mostly at night… but I’m telling you this: it was worth it!

So what I do is the muscle toning- relaxation exercise. You need to lay down in your bed, to be able to do the technique. You need to tighten your muscles, one by one and then relax them. So let’s say that you start from your feet and then you go all the way up to your head: so you tighten your feet for a couple of seconds and then release it. You do this for about five times. Then you can go up to your ankles, then your knees, then your upper legs etc.

It’s a great technique to calm your muscles down!