How to Sleep Well (A True Story)


I’ve written about how to sleep well, before, several times in fact yet I mostly forget my own advice or simply return to bad habits or straight-up ignore what I know.

What a dingbat.

Can you relate?

My sleep hasn’t been great for possibly a decade due to a large nodule on my thyroid (removed 6 months ago) which was pressing down on my windpipe, basically winding me while I slept. For years. I know. It was impossible to detect with the human eye or even by touch due to its position so went unnoticed for years. Doctors simply put it down to stress. It was only when I suffered from acute tonsillitis last spring that it was finally discovered, and my night wakings/ nightmares of feeling breathless were given a cause. They were symptomatic of the thankfully, benign lump.

Fast forward to six months later and while it often takes a year for full recovery post-op, I practically feel myself again. I swam on holiday in Prague recently without any pain at all (a first in years) and I plan on running again come the new year. The nightmares and gasping for breath have gone from nightly to once a week or sometimes once a month and while sleep apnea has been ruled out, it’s appears to be down to the memory of the physicality of the lump which should diminish.

I do however also think disrupted sleep/ nightmares have a correlation with tech overuse, particularly at night as many of my mates complain of this too. It’s a well known fact that the blue light emitted from tech inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone you need to sleep yet most of us believe to be immune to it. It was my pal Helen from Beauty Stylus who first advised me to hide my phone pre-sleep and it helped, despite the undiscovered lump. That’s how powerful tech, and giving it a miss at night, can be.

I don’t know why or when I stopped hiding my phone but l took a stance last night after a particularly frightening night terror the night before. ‘Take that iPhone’ I muttered as I climbed a chair to hide it in the highest cupboard we own.

Phone was hidden first then one by one I switched everything off: no watching box sets in bed, no seeking out breaking news on Twitter via my laptop or asking Alexa what the weather will be like tomorrow. Nada. Well, not quite nada. I took a bath, then lots of long deep breaths before getting into fresh white sheets in bed to read (anti-guru Sarah Knight’s new Calm the F*** Down which is perfect pre-sleep reading for an anxious mind like mine. Side note: I’m excited to be meeting Sarah in January at a book Q&A and I also interviewed her here if you fancy a read).

The result: I didn’t wake up once last night, no stirring, toilet visits (TMI) or importantly night terrors. I slept until 10 am in fact, so did my kids (this is what happens when you take a night flight from Prague to London and your kids need to catch up on zzzzs) and I feel 1947739069076 x better than I have in a long time. Quite possibly a decade.

Coincidence, maybe but unlikely. I, like my kids, need a sleep routine and while I read often and mostly in the bath (yes all my books have crumpled pages), I then proceed to scroll through Instagram a gabillion times before I sleep and then inevitably wake up.

It’s not happening anymore. I’ve asked my husband to keep me accountable and scream at me if I take my iPhone to bed with me. Agh, the romance.

Look, tech can be utterly glorious, a tool for creativity, business, a leveller like no other and a life-changer *throws hands in the air, but too much of it, and it becomes a pain in the ass, it can fuel mental health issues and disrupt sleep as we’ve seen and no doubt all experienced, so along with adopting healthy eating again to shift the 8 lbs I’ve put on since November and greater self-control, I’m turning tech off several hours before bed because I deserve to sleep well and so do you.

You also deserve to read Sarah’s book (out today).

Sleep Well

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