It’s like a switch was flicked last night with the weather - Autumn is certainly on it’s way in New Zealand and no one could be blamed for wanting to spend a little longer in bed today. One of the things that is finally completely back to normal for me since everything that happened last year is sleep. I have always been a good sleeper - I can fall asleep almost anywhere and most times have a good night’s sleep. That all drastically changed last year, as my sleeping patterns of course changed - the person I’d shared a bed with for 11 years was no longer there and the huge stress that came with everything meant that I just stopped sleeping. I’d have to stay up as late as I possibly could and hope that I’d fall asleep from sheer exhaustion - on a good night I’d get about 4-5 hours of sleep and the worst, maybe 1 or 2 - but it was always broken as I also suffered sever panic attacks and would wake drenched in sweat, crying and had often screamed myself awake.

The strange and painful part about working through grief, is that you’re able to control your emotions and thoughts during the day, but the moment you fall asleep you’re completely at it’s mercy again. It then turns into a vicious cycle because you’re in a way afraid to sleep, because when you sleep, you remember everything. And then you slip into the terrifying world of sleep deprivation - where your body aches all the time, your mind isn’t sharp and you really struggle with basic decisions. It’s just horrible. My kind Dr’s knew that I wouldn’t want the aid of prescription medication to sleep (it frightened me) - but they kindly suggested that I start running again to get my body back on track and they of course watched me closely to make sure that I was ok. Adding running or some form of exercise to my day really really helped for me, my body would be naturally tired and over time my sleep greatly improved.

I still of course have nights where it’s near impossible to fall asleep - thankfully the panic attacks have stopped - but I am now able to enjoy the huge relief that comes with knowing that it’s possible to have a good nights sleep and from that I have been about to create a new routine, life and ‘normal’ for my self for the time being. I now go to bed roughly the same time each night, and because of that no longer wake to an alarm, I have always been a morning person in a way so my body naturally wakes early. I then try and start my day with some form of exercise and then start work. Creating a routine that is just for you, is really wonderful. I think it’s also a nice way to realise that you have moved on when your sleep is back to normal and what used to hurt you doesn’t hurt as much and from that you feel like a brand new person. It’s a wonderful, freeing and incredible feeling - one that I never thought I’d ever experience. So, below are a few tricks I learn’t over the past months to help with a good night’s sleep. x

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+ Try and add a small amount of exercise to your day. It doesn’t have to be much, even if it’s stretching/doing yoga while watching a TV show, your body will feel so much better for it.

+ reduce the amount of sugar and caffeine you eat and drink. During the really rough months, I would get about and hour or two of sleep a night and rely on coffee to keep me awake - it was so horrible. It’s nice when you’re able to simply enjoy a cup or two of coffee a day, and not have to rely on it to keep you alert.

+ eat as much fresh and wholesome food as possible

+ avoid being on your phone too much before you sleep - I have found that I’ll have a much deeper sleep if I read a few pages of a real book (one with pages, not on a screen) before I drift off to sleep.

+ wear earplugs - I don’t know why, but they instantly calm me down and every time I sleep with them I have such a better nights sleep.

+ dap a few drops of essentials on your wrists - I been using the valor by The Modern Apothecary and Sleep from The Aromatherapy Co off and on, I can’t tell if they really make sleep deeper, but the scents are really lovely.

+ invest in a good serum, eye and night cream and concealer - they work wonders and hide all manner of lack of sleep.

+ treat yourself to a new pillow, linen or blanket if you want. This is your area, and you want/need it to be as comfortable at possible.