I became a sleep coach to help people find a balance and positive energy in their busy lives. I want to give people practical tools and personal support to help them achieve what they want to in life (or at least try to) without pushing themselves into a state of exhaustion and burnout. I believe in a new way of living: a lifestyle that is productive, fulfilling and balanced.
It will be little surprise to you that my interest in sleep also came about through personal experience. Sleep wasn’t something I thought about in my 20s. I only realised how important it was when it became a problem. When I reached the bottom, I had to climb my way back up through self development, reading and exploration. Needless to say I now see sleep in a whole new light.
My sleep problems began
I’ve always been someone who finds it hard to sit still for very long and my twenties were a rollercoaster of energy and emotions: exhausting and exilharating.
I started to see signs of overload quite a long time before I did anything about it: adrenal fatigue, increasingly erratic moods and feelings of not being able to cope. My sleep was unfragmented but light. I would wake up easily in the morning, often feeling tired and unrested.
I found myself on the edge of a burnout a few times, which I experienced as a strong physical sensation of not being able to go anywhere or do anything; feeling grounded beyond my control. I managed to avoid long-term leave by taking one or two days off to relax and reconnect with my healthier habits.
My sleep as a new mum
In the months after having my first child, even with the broken nights, feeding by baby, I was determined to be my “most productive” during the day. As I was putting my daughter to sleep for a nap, my mind would be racing towards all the things I could get done in those 2 hours (if I was lucky) to myself.
I was unable to nap during the day. Making matters worse, by the time my daughter had learnt to sleep through the night, I had forgotten how to. I would lie awake at 3am, 4am or 5am, on my own, full of thoughts and emotions and completely unable to sleep. During the days I was becoming exhausted, ineffective and angry!
Seeing me running myself into the ground, my husband said, “Dot, you need to sleep”. “I don’t want to sleep, I want to get on with my life!” I replied in frustration.
I realised, finally, that I needed to get some more sleep and re-introduce self care, for everyone’s sake. I gathered advice from friends, tried many techniques, sleep aids and read many books and articles. I took everything that I found and created a system: my own personalised sleep programme.
My sleep recovery
To reconnect with my natural sleep, I first created a relaxing evening routine and made this a priority. My evenings became dedicated to relaxing my mind and body and preparing myself for a restful night. I found what worked best for me and created a ritual. I also worked on my thoughts and beliefs. I had to overcome my fear of sleeping and convince myself that I could sleep through the night; that I could get the sleep I deserved, and needed as a busy working mum.
I practiced a lot of Yoga Nidra at home. I used it during the day to get some rest, in the evenings to relax and even at night, when I couldn’t get back to sleep. I have practiced a lot of yoga in my life, but I have found meditation hard. I fell in love with yoga nidra because it is so easy to do and helps me drop into a relaxed state almost immediately.
I became acutely aware of the impact that habits made on my sleep. For example a heavy evening meal, a late film, a late phone call, too much caffeine and exercise late in the evening had a clear and immediate impact on my sleep the following night.
Becoming a sleep coach
Helping people sleep better ticked many boxes for me. It is a practical solution to an important problem that is impacting society and individuals. Often, the reasons why people are not sleeping are related to lifestyle, once you rule out the physiological causes of sleep problems. With support, motivation and personalised information I am able to support people make positive changes to their life.
Helping people sleep is a win-win-win situation for society, employers and individuals. This appeals to me as someone who values shared responsibility, creating a sustainable society and systemic change.
I continue to help others to find their perfect sleep plan and to make sleep a priority for myself. Whilst I don’t get a good night every night, I know exactly how to get the perfect night’s sleep when I need it.
My personal formula for a great night’s sleep
- I go to bed at 10.30pm pretty much every night, which means that I feel naturally very sleepy when the clock strikes 10.30pm
- I turn off all screens at 9pm, regardless of what I’m doing or watching. I also avoid having phone calls after 9.30 as I find talking to people too late keeps me up at night.
- Between 9pm and 10.30pm I prepare my body and mind for a restful night’s sleep…
- I spend some time pottering around the house, preparing lunch boxes, doing laundry, tidying the house
- I drink a herbal tea such as verbena which I buy in bulk from the local organic shop
- I might listen to the radio or a podcast, although I try to get some quiet time, with no background noise or distraction. It’s important to be present in what you’re doing and to find quietness in your mind
- I talk to my husband and make an effort to sit down while we are talking, rather than carrying on with something else at the same time!
- I might do 20 minutes of yin yoga via Glo or use Gravity if my neck or back are sore
- I read a good book from 10pm for 30 minutes (if I can stay awake that long)
- I write in my one line a day journal
Sometimes as I turn off my light a little voice pops into my head: What if you don’t sleep tonight?
“There is no reason why I won’t have a a great night’s sleep tonight” I reply. And I’m usually right.
If you would like to talk about your sleep with me, you can book a free discovery call.