We’ve always been told we spend a third of our life in bed but most people I speak to never seem to get enough sleep.
I love my sleep but I must confess I used to take it very much for granted. That was until I started doing midnight to dawn talkback radio on 2GB and affiliated networks back in the mid-1990s. There is something unnatural about working through the night and trying to sleep during the day and feeling jet-lagged for the rest of the time.
The gig requires so much lead up research and technical preparation before doing the 5 hour live shift on-air, where I’m doing everything; voicing my opinions, talking to talkback callers, doing interviews and panelling the entire show. I then try to mentally debrief as I drive the short distance home. It’s full-on to say the least and while I’m physically exhausted by the end of it all and can’t wait to crawl into bed, my mind is still racing at a million miles an hour.
Susie’s Top Tips to Help You Fall Asleep
- Switching off my mind is the most challenging thing I faced each time I finished my overnight radio shift.
- I understand the importance of no electronic devices in the bedroom for many reasons especially with children but I do find I can switch off very quickly if I play 4 or 5 games of solitaire on my iPad.
- Otherwise, I focus my mind on naming car make and models or boys’ and girls’ names in alphabetical order. It stops all the other distracting things from flooding into and cluttering up my mind. Try it and I’ll be surprised if you get to Z before you’re asleep.
- An eye mask also helps me relax and get to sleep quicker and even stay asleep longer. A natural hormone Melatonin helps control our inner circadian time clock and one thing that regulates Melatonin is what natural light we take in. Especially if you work shift work, instead of blacking out the entire room, try wearing an eye mask.
- Pure Lavender Oil. Not only is pure lavender oil perfect for keeping silverfish at bay it also helps you sleep. A couple of drops in the wash when you clean your sheets or a drop on your pillow slip or your wrist or temples.
- Stretching and Relaxing. Lie on your back, close your eyes, take a deep breath and at the same time stretch out every muscle you possibly can in your entire body, all your extremities including your head as far as you can, then exhale slowly as you relax every muscle and feel the sensation of sinking into the bed, repeat a few times if necessary.
- De-stress. Read all those great tips in November’s AMC Newsletter.
If you’ve tried all my relaxation techniques above and you’re still wide awake or maybe you fall asleep and regularly wake up through the night, or perhaps you are still tired even after a long sleep or you snore, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to get a sleep test and the best place to start is with your GP.
About two years ago, my nephew Matthew, who is 28 and severely disabled with Cerebral Palsy was not sleeping well, he was constantly waking up throughout the night and during the day he had big dark circles under his eyes and he would fall asleep during the day in his wheelchair. Matt usually has the best demeanour but having no sleep made him cranky and irritable.
After a referral from his doctor, we went to a sleep specialist, who hooked him up to a sleep monitor and the results were frightening. It turns out every night Matt stopped breathing 56 times each hour and when he did he was only getting 52% oxygen. His sleep specialist compared it to him trying to climb Mount Everest every night.
Since he’s been hooked up to his sleep apnoea machine he only stops breathing 11 times in the hour and each time that happens, his sleep apnoea machine immediately kicks in and gives him 100% oxygen. The difference is outstanding; now not only does Matt sleep 6 to 8 hours straight each night without waking up, he is happy and full of life and jumping out of his skin with joy again.
Initially, even the thought of wearing a mask over his nose and mouth was a bit daunting but now he can’t wait to have it fitted.
I hope these sleep tips give you lots more hours of blissful sleep and sweet dreams…cheers Susie
Author, TV & Radio Broadcaster