Thank you for joining me for day 3 for Searching for Serenity's 7-day video tutorial series, Eliminating Exhaustion.

We are three days in, hopefully you are already beginning to see some changes.

I would love to hear how you got on with yesterday's task of putting stress in a box and walking away from work.  It is often more of a challenge than it originally seems to say you will walk away from work.  It can be more difficult to switch off those thoughts.  If you are struggling then please do not beat yourself up about this.  It is simply a case of repeating this, and you will find over time that matters improve and you find a better work-life balance.

For today's video I wanted to introduce you to the concept of sleep hygiene.

We are talking about eliminating exhaustion so of course sleep is a huge part of the recovery.

If you are a great sleeper, get 9 hours a night and you are out like a light the moment your head hits the pillow then that is great, but there is always more that can be learnt or improved upon. That is unfortunately the lot of OCD high achievers like us!

Sleep hygiene is the concept of promoting sleep and tools that you can immediately implement to ensure that you are getting the rest and relaxation that you need.

As a long-term stress induced insomniac this is something that I have spent a long time researching.

There are dozens, likely hundreds, of books and articles out there that will talk about sleep hygiene in far more depth but I am introducing you to the tools that have worked for me and others that I know.

Sleep hygiene comes about from keeping sleep cleanly defined and keeping your bedroom ready for sleep.
The first thing is of course keeping electronics out of the bedroom.  Hopefully you are watching this in the morning, but if you are watching this in the evening, on your phone, in your bedroom, then that is a complete no-no!

Part of this is arises because our bodies and minds associate areas and emotions; hunger in the kitchen, relaxation in the lounge where you watch films and hang out and so on.  The bedroom should be kept solely for sex and sleep.

So, if you work from home and are setting up on the edge of the bed with your laptop, (firstly my own chiropractor will come around and give you a good telling off as she did me when I did this a few years ago!  This is completely the wrong sitting position for work apparently...) you will subconsciously associate stress, to-do lists and those involuntary physiological responses with your bedroom, which is the absolute opposite of what we seek to achieve here.

Your bedroom needs to be a sanctuary.

Try to cut out light; invest in black out curtains, blinds or curtain liners (all widely available at places such as Dunelm and B&Q).  The reason for this is the sleep cycle.  When we wake to light, rising cortisol and adrenaline help to wake us and keep us going throughout the day and as the light dims, melatonin is produced in the brain which helps sleep.  You probably know this by now.

This is also why you need to keep electronics out of the bedroom; our trusty iPhones, laptops and kindles emit a blue light that inhibits melatonin production and stimulates the dawn hormones of adrenaline and cortisol.  Some electronics now come with a setting to reduce the blue light emitted so do use those settings. Whether you are checking Facebook or your work emails at 11pm when you should be asleep, you will have problems sleeping later on, never mind the emotional responses you have responding to work emails late at night or comparing yourself to someone else's perfect pictures!

Again, revisit your self-care schedule.  Hopefully you are still on track with this and implementing self-care for 20+ minutes each day.  if not, go back, do it again!  The self-care schedule links to your sleep hygiene and the two build together; if you implement a 20-minute self-care routine you will likely put it at the end of your day, whether it be a hot bath, winding down in front of a film or good book.  Revisit your self-care routine and see how this links in with your preparation for sleep, to help you relax and wind-down before bedtime.

I would also promote the use of more holistic therapies such as essential oils.  I am completely obsessed with a specific essential oil blend that, if you have been following me on Facebook for a while now, you know I am completely obsessed with!  All of these different therapies that you can use to try and promote your sleep hygiene and help you sleep better.

Even if you are getting a consistent 6-7 hours each night you might not be sleeping as deeply as you could.
I have found fitness bands and sleep monitors incredibly helpful.  Personally, I have used a Jawbone with delineates between deep and light sleep, deep of course being the more restorative sleep pattern.  You will often find when you are stressed that you will have more periods of light, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.  This is your brain trying to make sense of everything; this is also the sleep pattern that leaves you with vivid dreams, the odd sensations of thinking that you are awake when you are not, all because your brain is trying to reconcile your day and your stress.

If you are sleeping a lot but are suffering with vivid dreams and still feeling tired in the morning it may well be that you are not receiving sufficient deep sleep because your brain is overwhelmed with the information it is trying to process.

If you have access to those facilities, use them.

This process is about exploring information for your own purposes and to get you to a position of having enough information to support you rather than overload you.

So, for today, revisit your self-care routine and start looking at how you can nourish this further in the context of sleep hygiene and overstimulation before bed, and re-align your self-care routine to allow you to work on a smooth continuum form the time you get home to the time you get to bed; bringing the overstimulation down, bringing the light down, in order to put yourself in the best position possible for sleep.
If you are struggling with this, do seek further help either from a coach or from further books and articles specifically about sleep hygiene to help you break the inappropriate sleep and relaxation cycles.

In some ways we are all over stimulated toddlers who need our naps!  Consider what you would do if this was your child, and implement those recommendations as soon as possible.  If you receive an extra 20 minutes of deep sleep each night you will almost immediately reap the benefits.  Studies have shown that when individuals suffer from even moderate sleep deprivation they are as distracted and suffer cognitively to the extent of several units of alcohol.  You will often see these effects in road traffic accidents.

Good sleep hygiene helps to support your brain and beat the issues that even moderate sleep deprivation can leave you with.

Start to implement these changes today.  You can always drop me an email at hello@searchingforserenity.co.uk or join the Facebook group to get more help and assistance there.

It is important to implement this as soon as possible to start reaping the rewards, and you will see huge improvements over time.

I will be back in your inbox tomorrow with more guidance, support and to help you see the benefits of the work that we are doing.

In the meantime I hope that you have an amazing day, take care of yourself!