There’s few conversation topics I find taboo to verbalise and discuss, but funnily enough sleep is one of the very few. It’s kind of a touchy subject for me and I don’t tend to talk about it honestly enough. If you follow me on Twitter you can gather that I am up until 3/4am usually, and unfortunately that’s the story of my life. My anxiety, stress and depression doesn’t just affect my daily life, it fills my brain at night until I feel like I could explode. Sometimes it’s bills that have mounted up and I can’t pay, and sometimes it’s irrational thoughts about the future, and other times it’s about events in the past I really don’t want to be remembering but my brain LOVES a little reminisce at night. Eventually my head kinda feels like this…
Luckily the lovely guys at Pukka contacted me and asked whether I wanted to take part in the #sleepwithpukka challenge which basically entailed some everyday changes and relaxation. I was really excited to get started and be given a reason to incorporate a ‘break’ and period of rest in my day. You know when sometimes you aren’t even that busy, but yet still the weight of the never ending ‘to do’ list is filling you, the best thing to do occasionally is to actually just say- you know what, I am having a day off of this, or at least a hour of pure relaxation away from the stress.
I absolutely adore tea, and despite weaning myself off caffeine almost completely this year so far (fingers crossed/touch wood etc etc) I still adore herbal teas. I was sent the ‘Pukka night time’ tea bags that are a blend of oat flower, lavender and limeflower. Not only is a hot drink the best way to relax before bed, but if you don’t like traditional herbal tea and usually opt for breakfast/builders tea then the tea bags seem really milky and light, almost like they are already infused with some sweetener. Some herbal teas really are off putting to those who don’t usually drink them, but this is definitely something I would recommend you try before bed at least as you really don’t feel the need to add anything to it. They are naturally caffeine free and ethically sourced with 100 percent organically grown ingredients which means they are good for the environment, others and your inside- good times all round!
I don’t feel like I wake up to cravings for caffeine to keep me awake anymore, and instead go to bed with a caffeine free tea and wake up with an ice cold glass of water. Saves money, helps my moods and headaches, and my skin, health and sleep is thanking me for it.
Alongside the tea bags I was sent a night time herbal blend of tablets to aid my sleep. They recommend you take two capsules before bed every night, and contain Valerian root, Ashwagandha root,Gotu Kola lea, Hawthorn berry, nutmeg fruit, Bhringaraj leaf and fennel seed. Now I can’t say I am actually familiar with the ingredients and I have always been under the belief that if natural remedies and herbal tablets worked, then why aren’t they authorised and sold as medicine over the counter? However I am always willing to try anything, and even if I get pulled into the placebo effect then what is so wrong with that? If I believe it is working then it will work right? I do find tablets a difficult item to measure, the best test is when you stop taking them and compare the results with before, but obviously there are a lot of other influencing factors on my sleep, but I would love to see how I fare once I am out of the routine of having two a day.
I purchased my own eye mask as I find that any infiltration of light into my bedroom really disturbs me, alongside sound actually which is why sometimes I have to wear ear plugs to even get a good nights sleep. It’s almost like plugging my brain silent, literally haha! I use the eye mask when I am listening to the ‘Deep Relaxation CD’. It’s not something I would have opted for myself as I always proclaim I don’t have time to relax, but perhaps that’s the point. I need to relax to reach my full potential everyday or I am going to carry on being exhausted. The CD really focuses on being in control of your life, breathing exercises and reaching a relaxed state without actually falling asleep. The techniques are developed Dr Swami Shankardev’s medical and psychotherapy practice and have been used for over 30 years. The disc isn’t patronising at all and sometimes I feel even listening to someone speak calmly, slowly and softly is relaxing anyway.
The note pad I was provided with proved most interesting and crucial to my sleep help. I wouldn’t usually document how much I sleep, the disruptions I have but also how my day contributed to me falling asleep. I will always do at least an hour of exercise without fail, so I would assume that would be a contributor to making me sleepy, but late night social media stints really affected me getting to sleep at all. I also found that the earlier I slept my body was waking me at 1am for a snack, I was still hungry and hadn’t had enough calories, and my body wasn’t ready for a rest at 8pm it just needed nutrients. My partner’s sleep and movements also really affected how I managed to sleep, I found that by consistently using the ear plugs and eye masks I could combat his movement and disruptions too. A notepad also proved handy to wake up to if I was having any nagging worries or thoughts that needed to be jotted down to free my mind.
It’s a really useful exercise to do when you wake up so that you can find out what you personally need and what your body is telling you. Once I did that I found that I could sleep so much better, I just need to be a lot stronger and stay off social media a couple of hours before bed, and also make sure that I have eaten enough without being uncomfortably full…if not my body will be screaming at me to wake up!
I had my ups and downs on the challenge, and definitely had my really bad nights but have certainly found the cause. Whilst I definitely can’t control how much work I have in terms of University and freelancing I can manage my time more effectively, and decided that it really is okay to have a break and get off the internet- the world won’t end if I just leave that last little thing until the morning. Also relaxation without sleep is really important, and the beauty of herbal tea has just been solidified in my brain at how it works wonders to help you drop off.
If you want to find out more then check out @Pukkaherbs and search the #sleepwithpukka hashtag to see how everyone else is getting on.