Why Sleep Is So Important For My Mental Health

I love to sleep. For me the idea of curling up in PJs at the weekend and getting a solid 10 hours is bliss. I know, I know, I’m 23 years old, surely I don’t need that much sleep. I thought so too until I worked out that, actually, sleep can completely change my mental state. So, why is sleep so important for my mental health?

Before I had Depression or Anxiety, I knew that if I didn’t sleep, I wasn’t in the best mood. My sister is the same if we’re tired we’re easily annoyed and I get particularly emotional. Joy of joys but I could deal with it, I was just grumpy doing so. Then when I was a teenager I realised that a lack of sleep meant much more, it made me get a lot sicker. I struggled with my emotions, even more, to make sense of what was going on with me. It took on another meaning.

In my recovery and fight with mental illness over the past decade, I’ve had to make sleep a priority. And I’ve also had to be kinder to myself. In uni pulling an allnighter wasn’t an option for me, the emotional drain the next day from not sleeping was not worth it. I started making sure I had a plan for busy times to make sure I could get my 8 hours and be as mentally healthy as possible. Did it always work? Of course, it didn’t! But I had the knowledge and knew that sometimes if I felt down that was why.

Just as I managed that and was happy, I broke my spine. Even after I recovered I found the fatigue getting worse and worse, impacting me mentally and physically.  Eventually, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which meant sleep was even more important as it now impacts me physically.

Why am I writing about this? A lot of people who prioritise sleep are deemed ‘lazy’ or ‘boring’, I’ve been in the situation so many times. A lot of people claim that, because of my age, I should be out and partying and shouldn’t need sleep. You know what I do and even if it didn’t impact my health it’s my choice.

Are you a fellow sleep lover? Let me know in the comments below!

The I Love Sleep Tag!

Lately, I’ve found myself even more in love with sleep. My weekend lie-ins are one of my favourite parts of the week, particularly after getting up at 6.30 every weekday (and that’s the latest it can be *sob*).  So I thought I’d give this a go, partly because it’s fun and partly because my brain has turned into a sleepy mush. I found this over on Dreaming of Spoons, go take a look!

1. What time do you go to bed?
Usually between 10 and 11, got to get some shut eye!

2. What’s your routine before sleeping?
Set out my clothes for the next day, check on my Hamster, go and pee, brush my teeth, set my alarm and curl up.

3. What do you do when you can’t sleep?
Try and tense and then release muscles if I know I need to sleep, if it’s the weekend I might get up and do something.

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4. What is your favourite sleeping position?
On my front, facing the wall.

5. What is something people may wake you up for?
Ali wakes me up on a regular basis to tell me to stop snoring…whoops.

6. What time does your alarm clock go off?
6.30am

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7. Snoozing or getting out of bed immediately?
Normally I just get up, I start work a while before Ali does so I don’t let it keep going as I don’t want to wake him up, top girlfriend award over here!

8. Do you sleep in late on the weekends?
I try to, it doesn’t always work but when I can I’ll let myself have a lie in, particularly in the winter.

9. Are there any strange things you do while sleeping?
According to Ali I chew in my sleep…I have no idea when or how this started.

10. How many pillows are there in your bed?
Four, two for me, two for Ali. Although occasionally I get to steal all of them 😛

11. What do you wear in bed?
Character PJs.

12. Do you sleep with your socks on?
Nope. I like feeling my feet against the sheets.

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13. How big is your bed?
It’s apparently a double but it feels a LOT  smaller than my last one.

14. If I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is…
Switch off my alarm and convince myself to leave the warmth.

15. Do you dream every night?
Not that I can remember.

16. Which dream or nightmare is still in your memory?
I had a nightmare about Smurfs when I was a kid…still don’t trust Smurfs.

17. What’s your biggest dream?

To be happy and successful.

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Sunday Seven: Seven Things My Weekends Are Made For

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Lie Ins 

I try not to make plans before 12pm, after 5 days of having to get up early a lie in is all I want most weekends.

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Baking

I’m not keen on actually cooking, but baking is entirely different. There’s no pressure if you’re just baking for yourself or for family and, you know, it’s less likely you’ll go disastrously wrong with cookies or cupcakes.

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Sofa Days 

Being able to curl up with a duvet or big blanket, usually with a stack of books and mug of tea is one of my favourite parts about the weekend.

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Good Food 

I don’t stress about what I eat at the weekends. If I want a burger, I get a burger. If I want to eat a bag of cheese puffs, I eat a bag of cheese puffs. Life’s too short to be constantly worrying about what you eat and I’m speaking from experience.

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Travelling

Depending on where you want to go, a weekend or long weekend can be the perfect time to go exploring. Last weekend I was up in Durham , I’ve also spent a few days in Amsterdam before. Now that we’re working, Ali and I are also looking at going to different places across the UK for the weekend. I love a good relaxing weekend but exploring is great too.

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 Quality Time

The best part about the weekend for me is being able to spend quality time with the people I love. Waking up and dozing with Ali on a Saturday morning, not having to rush to get up and get showered just makes me so happy. It’s definitely the little things.

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Book Bingeing 

If I have a free day, I read. It’s as simple as that. I love curling up with a good book (or three) and just blissfully enjoying reading. Since finishing uni I don’t have the time to read as much as I used to, simply because I drive to work, rather than getting the bud everywhere. With that in mind weekends are the best, you can stay up late reading Friday and Saturday with no consequences, win!

Of course there are so many other things I could have added to this list but these are just a few. What do you like spending your weekends or days off doing?

Let me know in the comments below 🙂

5 things I wish I’d known before going into Third Year

With third year coming to an end and my graduation looming I sat and thought about what I wish I’d known before I’d gone into third year. I won’t lie, this has been a tough year not just because the pressure was kicked up a gear at uni, but also because of stuff going on in my personal life. Either way here are 5 things I wish I’d known, that might just help future third years out!

1. You have a LOT of reading to do, get it done.

Trying to read all of my primary weekly texts, the additional theory, 30 secondary sources for dissertation, 15 secondary sources for my special study, and oh yeah MORE secondary sources for the other two modules. There’s a lot of reading to be done this year. Do as much of it in advance as you can and thank yourself later. Also, get used to the library, it’s going to be your second home.

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2. You will want to take naps like you’ve never wanted naps before.

I never used to be able to sleep in the day, at all unless I hadn’t slept at night (ahem, party animals in the flat next door). Now I feel like naps are the only way to keep me awake at night long enough to work on my assignments.

3. You’re allowed to struggle.

I spent most of my third year pretending to myself and my lecturers that uni was a breeze, that I had my shit together and of course I was ok. Fast forward to a month before my dissertation was due, I’m in tears in my supervisor’s office feeling like I couldn’t possibly get a good mark on this bit of work. For some reason I felt like I had to just project this air of confidence this year, maybe it was to make myself feel better? Either way if you’re struggling go and talk to your lecturers. Don’t make my mistake and wait until it all gets too much, it’s a stressful time and lecturers understand that.

4. Sleep is a wonderful thing, and during the final few weeks you will feel like you have never had enough. 

Yes I’m mentioning sleep again. Right now I have no sleep schedule. Some days I’ll be fine to be wide awake bright and early, go to the gym, work on my assignments and eat a healthy amount of food. Other days I’m writing until 2am, wake up a lot in the night or just don’t sleep at all. No matter how much sleep I do or don’t get I’m always exhausted. The brain is doing a lot of hard work right now people!

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5. You’re going to feel confused and excited and sad and have ALL OF THE FEELS, because this is a weird point of your life. 

I didn’t realise how all over the place emotionally I’d feel. On one hand I want to dig my nails in and never let go of uni ever because it’s the one place I’ve been happy to be in education. On the other hand I want to get all of my assignments done and out of the way and never spend another evening writing up references. I find myself getting emotional at the strangest times and other times I just shrug and get on with things. It’s a very weird time but I’m hoping, come July 27th when I officially have a degree it will have all been worth it.

5 Confessions of all workaholics and how to beat them!

Workaholic is a word that sums me up whether I like it or not, be it in my job, my course, my hobbies I work damn hard and sometimes forget that I’m not supposed to be working 24/7, non stop. I notice this more when I get told to stop tidying and just sit down doing something I like rather than cleaning or organising or doing extra reading. So I decided to write another one of those lovely lists but, well, a helpful one (I hope).

1. I over organise.

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No word of a lie my calendar is always jam packed, when it isn’t I feel a little odd. I try and over schedule my entire life. So after having something on every single night of the week ( any paying for it a little bit), I realised that this is one of my workaholic traits.

How I beat it: 

Making sure that if I’m planning everything I leave myself time to relax or do what I want. Of course right now with my spine I don’t have much of a choice, but I have learnt the value of rest. If you know you’re going to be busy make sure you also have some relaxation time planned too, even an hour or two. Trust me it’ll make you happier and healthier!

2.  I put a lot of pressure on myself! 

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I am a perfectionist. In uni, in work and in a lot of other things. Now I don’t have a pushy family, they’re happy when I’m happy. It’s me who puts pressure on myself to be the best of the best, get constant firsts and good results at work. Although it’s good to aim high, sometimes it’s absolutely exhausting!

How I beat it: 

This is possibly one of the hardest things to beat. It’s taking me a long time to accept that I don’t have to be perfect all the time, that getting a 66 instead of a 70 isn’t terrible. That not working every single shift at work doesn’t make me a bad worker. This goes hand in hand with planning me time so that I can accept and be happy with who I am.

3. I drive my friends/family/boyfriend crazy with things that aren’t happening for months.

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‘But these books have to be read in the next 6 months’- really NOT an issue

How I beat it: It’s good to have a plan but now I have a laptop I focus on the month ahead, not 6 months ahead and try and take it a little bit at a time without worrying about things to come. I write a to do list for the week and focus on that instead of whats happening in 3 weeks time.

4. Not sleeping enough 

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Not having enough time to sleep is a bad move! It will effect my mood, my appetite, the way I am around other people. All in all a lack of sleep is one of the worst things for me.

How I beat it: PRIORITISE! Make sure I know what needs to be done and what can wait until the next day. Also asking for help doesn’t show weakness it shows strength. When I really can’t cope and know in advance there is usually the option for an extension at uni and my bosses are there to talk to if I’m struggling and need support.

5. Not eating properly

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This happens to a lot of people I know. Personally I get so into a project or piece of work that I keep going and going until I physically have to stop. One of my first open days for work, I kept putting off my lunch break because I was enjoying the day so much one of the older girls pulled me aside and reminded me I needed to eat, no matter how exciting this all is.

How I beat it: If you’re in an office, make lunch plans with someone else in the office. If you’re at home maybe set an alarm on your phone. I’m the worst at forgetting to eat if I’m absorbed in something but these usually work! Another thing is have regular smaller snacks, sunflower seeds are one of my favourites or a good old chocolate bar. Remember your body is your machine! Treat it well because you’re going to need it to succeed in whatever you want to do!

As always I love to hear from you guys! So fellow workaholics, what are your confessions and have you found a way to stop/get around them? Let me know!

Read, Write, Sleep, Repeat

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It’s that time of year again. The library is my second home, books are replacing pillows and I think I could quite easily sleep cuddling my laptop. I finally finished one assignment today and I have three more to go, all in different stages. After this mornings 4.30 wake up call from the hamsters and their wheel, it’s safe to say that I’m writing this feeling more than a little sleepy.

All in all though, I’m pleased I’ve had a focused and productive day. People say that being a student is all Netflix marathons, sleeping until noon and nights out but if you actually want to do well there is so much more than that. So I got myself up, to my physio appointment, then spent 3 or 4 hours in the library trying to force myself to get things done. Add to that Dani’s company, followed by dinner with Joe and I think I’ve spent today wisely. With that in mind though I’m hitting the books again tomorrow, wish me luck!

Tired.

Tired. It’s a little word. A lack of sleep can change me into a totally different person. I’m not saying just a little cranky or more forgetful (although both happen), one of the worst things for my depression is me being tired, everything gets darker, even the littlest things get harder. I can’t do things that I normally would be able to on a low day.

Why am I writing this? Because I know a lot of you are the same. Depression and anxiety makes you tired to start with, honestly it is exhausting and it took me a long time to accept that I was allowed to be tired by it. Physically and mentally sometimes even going through the motions are too much. The people around me can normally tell, as soon as I’m quiet it’s like something in my cracks and then the dam breaks and everything I’m nervous, anxious, scared about builds up in me until I feel like I’m going to burst. And I have to find a way to get it out.

I’m writing because it’s ok, you have the flu and you’re still tired after people are like oh it’s ok you’re wiped out, you have an extreme low and then are still feeling crappy after a few days a lot of people tell you to ‘get over it’. Right now I’m exhausted so I feel really up and down and all over the place. Ali knows, he picked up on me being grumpy pretty quickly but somehow knew I needed a cuddle.

I won’t sleep for a while yet, I’m exhausted but not tired. It makes no sense I know, or maybe to some of you it does. Either way I wanted to keep you updated and let you know how I’m plodding along.

Speak soon