I'm happy to be introducing a new series on the blog today - the 'Healthy Habits' series. Inspired by my growing interest in living life well, I thought it would be useful to delve into these habits - discussing what they are and how we can nurture them in our own lives. I'm sure I'm not alone in that I'm aware of the good things I should be making time for, even going so far as to understand the benefits of these - but I then somehow find translating these good intentions into everyday habits a real battle.
First up on the agenda is sleep. Oh sweet, sweet sleep. How I love it. If I don't get enough I spend most of the following day in a daze, but despite this obvious need, getting a full night of zzz's is much harder than I'd like it to be. As long as I can remember I've favoured early nights and early morning wake up calls. I hit a wall at around 10.30pm and if I'm not asleep shortly thereafter I spend the day after with that delightful hungover feeling (without having the fun of enjoying a few too many GnT's...) But somehow the art of actually staying asleep is what eludes me most. I tend to wake up most mornings around 4am, when I have a drink of water and attempt to lull myself back to sleep. But, if I'm naughty and I turn on my phone, then it's game over. I then spend the best part of an hour faffing on my phone - checking instagram, twitter and playing Candy Crush. All the while my brain wakes up, but my body is crying out for more rest.
With all this in mind we've recently taken a few fairly big steps in a bid to aid our quality of sleep... here are some things we've done that might help you if you're in a similar no-sleep situation!
HANG BLACKOUT CURTAINS
We've actually gone to the rather extreme lengths of moving bedroom and hanging blackout curtains. Previously our bedroom (in our Victorian London terrace) was at the front of the house, and the blinds were less than effective - cue a whole lot of street lights. Add to that the general noise of city living and it was a recipe for insomnia! Admittedly, having the option of moving rooms (when my brother moved out) was something of a luxury, but my goodness it has made such a difference. Our room is now in the loft space at the back of the house and is so much quieter. The blackout curtains are the icing on the cake, making the room pitch black. A must if you're a light sleeper!
I get so stressed by clutter, that I've taken the dramatic steps to literally ditch as much as possible in our bedroom. Our bedside tables hold any essentials (books, kindle, bible, water glass, candle etc), my dressing table is similarly pared back, and apart from these surfaces our room is bare. While I do want to add some interest to the room via art and prints on the walls, this simple and minimal styling has meant the room feels so calm and more like a sanctuary. If you want to declutter, try upping the storage potential of any nooks and crannies in your home - then everything will have its own spot, and the visible clutter will be hugely reduced.
PICK SUPER SOFT BEDDING
This wasn't something I initially thought about, but recently it dawned on me that it totally makes sense to invest in good quality bedding if possible. B is basically a human hot water bottle at night, so light and cool fabrics like linen and cotton are a must. Right now I am loving our new seersucker bed linen from Soak & Sleep: it's so soft. Plus with its gorgeous texture, it means post washing and drying creases are positively encouraged - no need to iron these sheets! I've recently also teamed it with the beautiful cotton quilted bedspread. The king size bedspread is huge, and makes the bed feel extra cosy for chillier nights.
TURN YOUR PHONE OFF
I should probably extend this tip to become a general 'no tech in the bedroom' rule - but really, how achievable is that? I value lazy mornings watching TV on my laptop, so such a rule would be broken almost as soon as it was decreed. But when it comes to my mobile, I really am trying to switch it to 'do not disturb' at night time, and force myself to not pick it up if I wake up in the night. This takes a whole lot of willpower, but on the nights I stick to it, I do find myself drifting off to sleep again rather than staying up getting more frustrated and exhausted. If you simply must use your phone just before sleeping or during the night, try turning the screen hue to 'night shift' on iPhone and turning the brightness right down - this will eliminate the blue light emitted and should stop your brain perking up too much!
EMBRACE ESSENTIAL OILS
I've enjoyed using both the This Works pillow spray and stress less remedy and The White Company spa relax pulse point oil recently. Having never really used essential oils, I've been surprised to see how effective simple scents such as lavender and peppermint can be on promoting restfulness ahead of a good night's sleep. Just dabbing a little on my wrist as I wind down, breathing in a few deep breaths seems to set me up for a calmer night.
These are just a few ways I'm trying to be more intentional with my healthy habit of sleeping, but I'd love to hear your tips. What do you do to promote a healthy sleep pattern? All tips are so welcome and appreciated - just comment below or tweet me!
This post was written in collaboration with Soak & Sleep, and for it I was given the lovely bedding set and bedspread. All opinions are of course my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Gathered Cheer going.
Photo credits // All shot and styled by Ruth Garner for Gathered Cheer