Everyone has their triggers and warning signs, for me the first warning sign is always sleep… or lack of. From lack of sleep it all seems to crumble down around me, from lack of sleep stems more lack of sleep and then too much sleep. It took me years to realise that lack of sleep was my personal warning signal, but now as I battle lack of sleep yet again I’m focusing on “finding a ways through”. It’s important for me and others not to ignore our personal warning signs.
Generally going to sleep isn’t my problem, staying asleep is. I wake around 3-4am (or sometimes earlier) and then lie awake until it’s time to get up. I lie awake tossing and turning, and once awake my mind starts firing on all cylinders. It’s been a couple of weeks of this now, so outside of my normal medication which I take on a daily basis I need to spend time getting my sleep (or lack of) back in order.
Someone I consider a true hero, who highlighted the importance of knowing our triggers and warning signs is ex-All Black John Kirwan (JK). He’s broken down barriers, making talking about depression and anxiety okay and asking for help seem less daunting. His involvement with Depression.org.nz is amazing and nothing short of inspirational. I suggest everyone body reads his book All Blacks Don’t Cry, A Story of Hope and visit the Depression.org.nz site they’re brilliant tools for those of us who suffer from depression as well as those who know someone who suffers.
In order to tackle my sleep issues I’m going to try the below tips:
- Bedtime – Try and go to bed at the same time every night, it may sound a little childish but it’s important to create a bedtime routine.
- Wind down – Ensure you allow yourself some quiet time to wind down before lights out, stop work or study half an hour before bed.
- Sleep sanctuary – Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary by removing things like TVs, computers and game consoles.
- Also ensure you’ve blocked out the light, making it ideal for sleep.
- Up & at ’em – Try to get up at the same time each day, and once you’re awake get out of bed.
- Late nights – catch up on lost sleep after a late night by heading to bed earlier the following night. Try and avoid napping, as it can really put things out of whack.
- Caffeine – Cut down on coffee, sugary drinks, energy drinks, alcohol and tobacco. I personally avoid coffee in the afternoons and always stay clear of energy drinks and tobacco.
- Worry – A lot of people, myself included, tend to get into a cycle of worry when we can’t sleep. All sorts of things start running through my mind making sleep even hard. TIP – write down what’s worrying you, get it out of your mind and onto a piece of paper, then put it aside to address at a more appropriate time during the day.
- Exercise – Do some physical exercise every day, it doesn’t need to be overly strenuous just ensure that if you’re exercising in the evening that you’re giving yourself time to wind down before bed.
- Relax – There are many different relaxation techniques, and finding what works best for you might require a little trial and error but things like yoga, meditation or breathing techniques can be a great help.I personally find STOP. PAUSE. BREATHE to be great technique. STOP what your doing/thinking. PAUSE and clear your mind. Take a big DEEP BREATH in through the nose (until you pretty much can’t take in anymore air). Swallow and then slowly exhale through your mouth.
“A good night’s sleep
makes the days easier”
I can’t ask to be wrapped in cotton wool, forever protected from outside world. I can’t stay at home all day, every day andI can’t let lack of sleep be the start of me spending time in that crummy place called depression. If you live with someone working through depression give them time and space to work the above tips into their routine, by helping them create a regular sleep routine you’re helping them get through and stay well afterwards. For me, I’m just working on staying happy, healthily and awesome. I know this is just a small glitch and getting my sleep back on track will help hugely.
Lack of sleep is my warning sign, your warning sign could be different it could be problems concentrating, loss of appetite, low self esteem or loss of energy among other things.
Any helpful tips are gratefully received.