If you’ve been following me on Twitter this past week you may have seen my evening tweets have been a bit different.
I’ve been involved in the Hillarys Week of Sleep (#HillarysWeekofSleep) and together with a few other bloggers we’ve been testing out some sleep techniques to see if there’s anything we can do to get a better night’s sleep.
We’ve been tweeting about the different sleep techniques we’ve been using and now it’s time to reveal the answers.
What is Hillarys Week of Sleep?
Did you know that 2015 is the UNESCO International Year of Light? There will be a series of events around the world to showcase light and optical technologies. Hillarys are supporting it with a Living Light campaign for the entire year.
Light is usually a beautiful and positive thing and we want to fill our lives with as much light as possible, but there’s a time and a place when light isn’t so welcome. Light pollution, LED lights and lights from our gadgets can keep us away at night and prevent us from a getting a good nights sleep.
Apparently over one third of people in Briton experience sleep problems and recently I’ve been one of them. I was 38 weeks pregnant during the Week of Sleep so it’s unsurprising that I haven’t exactly been getting a good night’s sleep.
It’s a combination of nerves, excitement, feeling uncomfortable, having a wriggly baby boxing in my belly, needing to pee every 3 hours and permanently being roasting hot (now I know why they say you ‘have a bun in the oven’ – I really am like a furnace!) that has prevented me from sleeping properly.
Apparently it’s also a natural and instinctive problem to suffer with sleep problems while you’re pregnant. It’s your body’s way of preparing you for night feeds and a lack of sleep once the baby comes. Nice try Body! I don’t think anything will get me used to a lack of sleep so I’ve been doing my best to go against my instincts and sleep as much as I can. It could be my last chance for a while!
Hillarys Sleep Techniques
Here are some of Hillarys sleep techniques and tips I’ve been trying to help me sleep during the sleep week.
1. Rearrange the bedroom into a sleep-inducing environment. Keep it dark by using thicker blinds or an eye mask.
I’m not entirely sure what a sleep-inducing environment is but due to the shape of my bedroom I don’t have any other options for furniture arrangement.
I do have very dark blinds in my bedroom.
I don’t have a blind in my en-suite and this week there was a full moon which meant my bathroom was really light. This was actually a good thing because it meant I didn’t need to put the light on for those ‘pregnant lady night time pees’, meaning I barely woke up when I went to the loo. Maybe a night light in the bathroom could actually be a good thing to avoid the harsh shock of the bathroom light when it’s dark.
2. Switching off screen technology and reduce eye exposure to screens an hour or two before bed. This includes television, texting and using tablets.
Going to bed earlier to read has made a big difference. I’ve neglected my Kindle recently and I’ve been reading books on my iPad. So I dug out my old Kindle and used this for some nighttime reading and, wow, what a difference!
It’s one of the early Kindle’s so there are no distractions like emails or social media notifications. I found I couldn’t read for nearly as long as I do with my iPad and felt my eyelids drooping after about 20 minutes of reading.
3. Increasing the distance between your eyes and a screen
I didn’t do this. Maybe I’m getting old but if I held it further away I wouldn’t be able to read it….?
4. Exercise during the day, the earlier the better
Despite being heavily pregnant I’m still doing my best to exercise. It’s mainly because I work from home so it’s all too easy to never leave the house and not get any exercise at all. I then find I can’t sleep because I’ve barely walked more than 500 steps all day and haven’t used up any energy. (Trust me, I’ve recorded it!) I aim for 10,000 steps a day – I use my iPhone to record this – and it makes a huge difference to my sleep.
Hillarys recommend exercising during the day but I prefer to exercise in the evening.
5. Dim lighting on PC and tablet screens
I just avoided screens all together. I stopped charging my phone next to my bed to stop myself from looking at it. I’m sure the bright light of the screen effects sleep but it’s also the notifications from social media that prevent me from sleeping.
6. Use lamps and candles and dim interior lights to reduce the intensity of indoor lighting before bed
Yes, I have a dim lamp next to my bed.
7. Eat lighter evening meals
This took a while to master because if I ate a meal that’s too light or too early I’d be hungry again before bedtime. There’s nothing worse than going to bed hungry! I did cut out the 9pm snacks but I can’t say it made much difference.
8. Take in fluids during the day
Yes! This is a biggy for me, especially at the moment as I have a full term baby sitting on my bladder. Staying hydrated during pregnancy is really important and I’m constantly thirsty so I made an extra special effort to get in a few liters of water throughout the day rather than glugging a few pints with my dinner.
Other sleep techniques I found to help…
9. Going to bed earlier
It sounds weird but going to bed earlier actually helped me sleep better. This enabled me to go through a night time shower/make-up removal routine which I find really relaxing.
10. No dogs upstairs
I know I shouldn’t let my dog sleep upstairs anyway but when he gives me the puppy dog eyes I can’t resist. But after an hour I always regret allowing him up. He snores like a pig, yaps in his sleep and constantly tries to jump on the bed. If he makes it onto the bed it feels like I have an enormous bear sleeping on my feet, not a tiny little dog.
So there’s a new rule in our house. No dogs upstairs, ever!
11. Getting up on time
Due to my pregnancy I haven’t been forcing myself to get up early each morning. If I can’t laze in bed till 9am, when can I? But this turned out to be a bad idea. Sleeping for too long in the morning has meant it’s more difficult to fall asleep at night.
The main thing that helped me sleep better during the sleep week was turning off my gadgets and reading from a Kindle rather than an iPad. I found going to bed early and reading by lamp light really relaxing so it’s a habit I definitely want to get back into.
Exercising as much as you possibly can is also great for getting a good sleep and getting up on time morning ensures you’re tired by bed time.
This time next week I’ll have a baby so I’m sure I’ll be sleep deprived and exhausted. If you have any sleep techniques with a new baby please do let me know, I’ll need all the advice I can get!
This post and the #HillarysWeekofSleep campaign was in association with Hillarys Blinds. You can find out more about the International Year of Light 2015 here and the National Sleep Awareness Week here.