Why you’re always tired

Do you constantly feel tired even after you’ve just woken up? Maybe you rely on a steady supply of caffeine to get you through your day because you are so utterly exhausted, but then when it gets to bed time, you can’t drop off. When you eventually doze off after tossing and turning in bed for what seems like hours, your sleep is broken, perhaps you wake several times in the night and start stressing about how you will get through your day at work on so little sleep. When you finally do get back to sleep, you are abruptly woken by your alarm with a start, and the whole vicious cycle starts all over again.

Recent reports would suggest that we are in the midst of a sleep deprivation epidemic and many people obsess about how many hours they are getting, wearing tracking devices in bed to monitor their sleep patterns. We all have the odd night where we can’t drop off or sleep badly and during times of stress this is more likely to be the case. So it’s hardly surprising that many people have reported that their sleep has suffered during the pandemic. But if you are regularly failing to get enough sleep and it’s affecting your quality of life then it may be time to look at changing your routine.

First a disclaimer: I’m no sleep expert. But I definitely sleep better than I used to. When I was at uni I got by on a minimal amount of sleep because, er I was having too much fun. Funnily enough becoming a chain-smoking, heavy drinking journalist after I left didn’t really improve matters much. Then came motherhood and we all know how much that screws up your sleeping patterns. I think the last time I had a lie-in was possibly in 2007, I kind of wish I was joking!

Actually on the last point, I now believe that lie-ins are not what they are cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong, if you have been partying until 3am, of course you’re not going to want to get up at 7am. But studies now show that when you alter your regular bed time and wake up time by more than an hour, your body reacts as if you have jet lag (remember that from the good old days of holidays abroad)? Don’t believe me? Try going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time every day for a week and see if you feel any better. The first couple of nights might be rough but then I’m confident you’ll see an improvement.

What you do during the day will also affect your sleep. We all know that too much caffeine can wreak havoc with your sleep but some people are more sensitive to it than others. My husband could have a double espresso after dinner and not suffer any ill effects but I wouldn’t even risk drinking coffee after lunch time. I have a friend who can’t even get away with having one in the morning - I know! But since she eliminated that one dose of caffeine, her sleep has improved.

If you wake up knackered then it will take a considerable effort to make sure you do any kind of exercise, but doing so will actually help you sleep. I should add a caveat: don’t try doing anything super energetic too soon before bed because you’ll still be experiencing that endorphin high come lights out. Getting outside and having exposure to sunlight is also vital, so if you do your exercise outdoors then you are killing two birds with one stone.

Then of course there’s your bedtime routine. We need to start winding down for bed. If you are still scrolling your social media feeds under the duvet minutes before you plan to get some shut-eye, don’t expect to drift off easily. Instead try doing some meditation or mindful breathing or play a Yoga Nidra recording for better sleep.

This Sunday I will be running a Yin and Yoga Nidra workshop which I’m confident will set you up for a good night’s sleep. I also have plans to run a Yoga Nidra for Better Sleep course too. They don’t call Yoga Nidra “the sleep of the Yogis” for nothing you know.

In the meantime here are some pointers to help you get in a few more zeds:

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day - yes even Sundays - sorry!

  • Don’t reach for your phone as soon as you wake up. Try doing 5 minutes of stretching and some mindful breathing or set and intention for the day ahead.

  • Try and get out before lunch time even if the weather sucks a bit.

  • Move more - go for a walk/run/bike ride/dance in your kitchen.

  • Try not to drink too much caffeine and ideally none after lunch time. Knocking back too much booze before bed won’t help either. You might drop off more easily but your quality of sleep will be affected. Sorry to be a party pooper but it’s true.

  • Have a relaxing bed time routine: switch off your phone at least an hour or two before bed and banish it from the bedroom, have a nice bath, read in bed (preferably nothing too gory/scary/disturbing) or do some meditation/mindful breathing in bed.

  • If it takes a while to drop off, try not to stress about it, don’t keep checking the time. Try some more mindful breathing.

  • If you wake up in the night, again, don’t panic, it’s perfectly normal to wake in the night. Don’t check the time if it will stress you out.

  • Don’t hit snooze when you wake up and get up straight away even if it felt like you didn’t sleep that well. Try to use a pleasant alarm, not one that’s going to make you jump out of your skin.

  • Remember that we all need different amounts of sleep. I aim for 7 hours a night but maybe you feel you need more, or perhaps you need less. Try not to turn it into a competition. Sometimes we can convince ourselves that we aren’t getting enough sleep when the reality is that it could be that we need to look at other aspects of our lifestyle.

Those are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years which I hope might help you too. Most people who have tired Yoga Nidra will testify that it’s hard to stay awake so why not join me this Sunday. You can book here.

Sweet dreams! Zzzzzzzzzzz


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