I need to fix my sleeping pattern

I’m no expert, but things have needed to change for years

I don’t recall the exact moment that my sleeping pattern fell to pieces. Around 9 years ago during school I’d be kept up throughout the night, doing nothing in particular. Reading, wasting time on my phone, and so on.

GCSEs came around and, well, I never really managed to stay focussed too well. I always felt restless regardless of exercise and so come night time, I’d still be active around 3am. Just there.

I never really got why. This habit continued for years. Years and years, with no foundation. It worsened through Uni. I mean.. much, much worse. The routine of overworking, studying, and trying to maintain a social life left me rarely sleeping. Maybe four hours max every night for years on end. Some nights none.. countless. And I don’t mean this false insomniac type of sleepless night. I mean reaching 8am, realising it’s worthless and just showering and heading out for the day. At one point I watched 27 episodes of Dexter and then just went out. I don’t think I slept in over 50 hours.

Obviously this crap is so far from sustainable. Stress increased after Uni — somehow — and it made it harder to cope with a worsening sleep routine. It’s become near essential lately to knuckle down and settle into a routine. A day-to-day routine, a routine of eating and of sleeping.

I started by abiding by alarms. Early ones. To get myself used to waking up earlier. Gradually then, I’d be sleeping earlier. Here is a bit of info on some of the other key things I took (and take) into consideration.

Diet

Although my diet is crap — honestly, crap! — it’s become necessary to have some kind of routine with it. I found that I would often be kept up late by bad snacking habits. I love having cookies, crisps, doughnuts, and so on, whilst in bed to watch something on Netflix.

This had to stop. So I’ve cut that out. I mean.. I might have snacks with me at my desk until around 9pm or so but I’m gradually phasing it out of the evening and leaving it to day-time snacks. (I say this at 22:45, drinking a can of Ting)

Snacks aside, I manage to maintain a decent enough routine. I’ll eat at roughly the same times and so my body is usually ready for sleep, or ready for food, around the same times. Something I’ve found to be key is having a light meal if I leave it too late to eat something heavier.

Down-time

Most of my work isn’t really physically tiresome but it is taxing mentally. Whether it be me sat at my laptop for the entire day, or in my weekend job reeling off figures for the technical specs of cameras, televisions, laptops and speakers.

I’ve learnt to reduce my work load and give myself time to unwind. Down-time has shown to be essential. I realised that from the start of March to the end of May I only had one weekend doing nothing particular. Even then I play football on the weekends. Speaking with Zai, we agreed a day was needed for down-time. Taking a midweek day each week, I started going to the park to relax. It was bliss. And it’s been helpful.

I’ve been trying to build on this. Not going on my phone or laptop first thing in the morning. Not being on them last thing in the evening.. spending more time reading, more time outside with fresh air. Who knows if this directly helps me sleep? But it has helped me relax better when it is time to get to sleep.

Oh and I found out today I have two weekends off of work in July. Win.

Exercise

The gym, and playing football, has been a major key in making me release a lot of excess energy.

Not just for a release of energy but for stress too. I realised restlessness in the evenings could often come from stress. Exercise (amongst other things!) is proving super beneficial for easing stress and allowing me to rest efficiently during the evenings, before sleeping properly.

Routine

Each of these things when combined can only really work with a solid routine. Trying to settle into a decent, regular sleeping pattern has felt impossible the entire time I didn’t keep these things in check. I know which days I have work, the times I have particular meetings, the times I go to the gym, the times I watch certain shows and when certain YouTube channels post new content.

It’s very regimental, I know. But, for me it works wonders. It’s ideal. Things fall to peaces when I’m not in this routine, when I just sleep whenever I get to it, eat whenever I can, and go about my time without any serious focus. And doing that drives me mad.


That restlessness in the hour or so before bed has gone. I’m able to get into bed and put things down.. and I get to sleep faster. My alarms aren’t so piercing in the morning and I often find myself waking up during the night feeling refreshed after around 5 hours sleep.

I’m now regularly getting around 6–7 hours. It’s going well and I can sometimes even nap during the day. (Try it if you never have. Napping is great.)

Stupidly, two nights ago I was on the phone later than necessary and slept way past bedtime. That same day I had been at work and played football so I was completely exhausted. The heat isn’t helping. Today (the time of writing) has been a total mess and the routine near collapsed because I overslept, went to the gym at a different time and ate at different times to normally. So here I am. Again going to be sleeping later than necessary.

So maybe I need to start over, and fix it all over again.


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