Sleep escapes me

Not being able to sleep after feeling tired and sleepy for an hour is just plain annoying. That is where I find myself now, wanting to sleep yet unable to drift off. As I lie in bed my calf muscles twitch and ache from work, reminding me that I need to get some more magnesium powder to help settle them down. My mind feels like a dirty London canal, swirling with trash thoughts and refuse from a less than average brain day. There is some irony as I get out of bed and head to write, I am about to finish the next chapter update for my book The Noisy Mind and it is all about sleep. I can’t insert a face palm emoji at this point, but that is what I am acting out.

I can’t blame anyone but myself for the “Red Bull” state I now find myself in. I haven’t followed my own advice in The Noisy Mind by following a sleep routine on returning home. Instead I tried to skip steps A through C and go straight to the Zees, error. Now I am back pedalling, returning to what I should have done when I got in, sit down and write.

I began the day well with a 9 km run in the city with our friend Andrew before viewing an apartment for sale down the road from us in Coogee. I had already been a strange head space for a few days and when I got in it all caught up with me. When you haven’t had an episode of depression for a while it hits home harder, or at least it feels that way at the time. We forget the darkest times of our lives so easily, otherwise we would be an absolute mess 100% of the time. This is a clever evolution in our brains, but also a Catch-22 as well. I feel I need a Facebook like notification telling me that Depression is going to an event near me in 6 hours. That might give me a chance to hunker down inside a fort of sandbags and prepare for its arrival. After getting to work I certainly felt better, all be it in a state of euphoria for the first couple of hours, strange. Perhaps somebody is dosing my coffee?! Once I settled in I had a great time, distractions can be bloody useful when your mind wants to have a melt down. Fast forward to arriving home and I skipped the routine in favour of a quick book read and a lie down. Error, again.

I won’t bore you for too long but I’d like to share my sleep routine. To be perfectly honest I haven’t followed this in some time because it is easy to slacken off when you are sleeping well. It’s not until you feel like you’ve been bashed in the head when you wake that you realise you need to stick with it through good times and bad. Anyway here’s my sleep routine:

Tom’s fantastically relaxing sleep routine

1. Get in front door, get a glass of water.

2. Get bag ready for work next day (because you know it’s not happening at 6am)

3. Sit and drink above glass of water whilst jotting down anything on your mind. For structure it helps to get the crap stuff out of the way first, second write out one thing I can change tomorrow, finally finishing on a high note with the good things. The last can be as simple as “I ate a delicious burrito, I am pretty grateful for that.”

4. Have a shower and wash the day’s dirt away (figuratively and literally). Brush teeth ready for bed.

5. Don superhero/princess pjs (depending on mood)

6. If past 9pm pickup a book and read, doodle or do some colouring as a way to use up “twitchy” energy and relax. (No screens)*

7. Dim the lights to make it darker and stretch “twitchy” muscles

8. Listen to sleep story/meditation/hypnosis

9. Go to fucking sleep brain! (please and thank you)

*Not everyone works late enough to get home past 9pm, just try to switch off screens 90mins to 2 hours before bed. This will help your brain switch off and prepare for restful sleep. Avoiding blue light before bed will reduce the brain’s activity.

Here’s what I actually did:

1. Necked a pint of water

2. Raided the fridge and ate several snack sized chocolates

3. Read book until felt sleepy

4. Brushed teeth

5. Went to bed

The idea behind a routine is to relax your mind and body in order to get off to restful sleep quickly. There are many reasons behind the order and steps above, which I will happily explain in another post or podcast soon. For now I think it is just important to look at what you are currently doing and rate how well that is working for you. In today’s age of technology and zero boredom we have to change what we did 10-15 years ago in order to manage our rest time more effectively.

My chapter update will be out before the end of the year and the book is available on my website or via the Apple Bookstore if you own an Apple device (it works best on this). You’ll receive free updates as I add a chapter each year on different topics for improving mental health.

Until next time sleep well,

Tom :)