Feel like you’ve had enough and can’t go on? As soon as you start feeling stressed, anxious or low, it’s usually a sign that your brain is getting tired. Not necessarily sleepy but exhausted. If you have been running for too long, your body will ache as a sign that it needs to stop, so when you feel like you’ve had enough, your brain is telling you to stop.
Giving your brain a break is vital for its survival; Like any other muscle it needs time to rest to regenerate and grow. Sleep is the most important way for the brain to do this. Whilst you sleep, it can rest, repair and grow. If you suffer with a mental health condition, sleep is vital. If your chemical levels are slightly different to other people’s, then your brain will have to work harder to function the same as everyone elses. I am always amazed how tired I am after a day’s work but then I’ve had to battle bipolar on top of my daily duties – and it’s bloody hard to do that some days. To combat this, I need to prioritise rest and sleep more than others I know.
Getting enough sleep helps improve how we feel and how well our brain can function, therefore our mood improves. It’s as important as medication and exercise in staying well. Here are some strategies that help me sleep that may help you:
1 – Exercise
Moving your body will help you feel tired but think carefully about when you do it. Exercising vigorously immediately before sleep – with perhaps the exception of sex – doesn’t help as your body needs time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Try exercising during the day, preferably in the morning, to feel more tired when you’re ready for bed.
2 – Shut Down
You need to give your body and brain time to unwind and get ready for sleep. Try setting aside at least an hour before you want to go to sleep to relax and unwind. Watch mindless telly (there’s plenty to choose from), read a book, listen to the radio – whatever it is, it will help you to take focus away from your day-to-day thinking about work, life etc, and help your brain to unwind.
3 – Mindfulness
When you finally hit the sack and rest your head on the pillow, if your the type of person that has everything flashing through you mind at 100mph, now if is the perfect time to practice mindfulness. Concentrate on your breath, let the thoughts come and let them go with the out breath. I’m very lucky living in the country as I can focus on what I can hear, whether that is church bells, a distant train or the occasional owl. Trying identify the different noises will help distract your mind from preoccupations – much like counting sheep. That said if you can hear screaming and gunshots, call the police and start looking on rightmove!!
4 – Turn the phone off
I am the worst culprit for the this. If the world of information is at your fingertips, you will be prone to use it. So many of us use it as an alarm clock as well so feel tied to it when we go to bed. I’ve started using the alarm on my watch and turning my phone off so I am not tempted for late night searching.