Can a shift in routine help change a decade of feeling exhausted? Here, writer Georgina Wallace makes five key changes to see if she can finally feel rested…
I’m going to be honest with you, I live my life in a perpetual state of exhaustion.
Sometimes I’m less exhausted than the day before (which is nice), but it is a constant known to my body and I that it hasn’t had enough energy for about 10 years.
I have actually wondered what my brain could do if it wasn’t constantly tired, seeing as I seem to be getting by fine despite it.
A lot more, it turns out.
A poorly rested brain means you struggle to pay attention generally and when faced with something that requires multiple steps (like driving a car or following specific procedures) you’re much more likely to make mistakes - twice as likely, to be precise. You can also be more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
And the impact isn’t just mental, it’s physical, too - consistent poor sleep can mean you’re more at risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and strokes. And if you’re getting less than six hours a night, it can lower your life expectancy.
So with that in mind, I figured it’s about time I started investing more in my sleep.
My usual bedtime routine is minimal, let’s say. It consists of brushing my teeth (I’m ashamed to admit I don’t even bother taking my makeup off), flopping into bed and scrolling on my phone until I drop off hours later - something a recent TikTok addiction doesn’t help with. I do turn off my phone’s blue light while I stare at it endlessly, and when I feel myself eventually starting to drift I set an alarm with a sleep cycle app to wake me up with less brutality.
But that’s not quite enough, so here are the five things I changed to help me rack up those z’s and reap the benefits…
1. I showered in the evening
Having a warm (not hot) bath seems like the universal way to relax - as it’s said to raise your body’s temperature to a point that’s ideal for rest. But living in a London flat means the best I’ve got is a standing shower, so I shove my hair into a particularly fetching shower cap and stand under the warm water for 15 minutes, using the time to think about my day.
As I’m working from home at the moment, I usually go from laptop screen, to TV screen, to sheets (and iPhone screen) with nothing to really signal that the work day is over. I found that finishing work, having dinner and showering before I sat down for an episode of The Last Dance really helped shift my mindset into evening mode.
To maximise the relaxing effects of the warm shower, I massaged a few drops of Sanctuary Spa’s Calming CBD Oil into my temples and on my wrists before stepping in - the CBD mixed with coconut oil, lavender and a rosemary scent basically transforms my bathroom into a spa and I honestly could have drifted away standing upright.
Once out, I also used their De-Stress Warming Body Balm on my neck and shoulders to help soothe my muscles that always tense up after being hunched over my laptop all day. The ginger oil and thermolat in the balm means it’s self heating - you’ll really feel this warmth so if you’re someone who gets uncomfortable with too much heat, try it in isolation of showering. Me? I may as well be a lizard I’m that cold blooded, so found it perfect.
It lasts up to two hours, which is ideal for osmosing into the sofa. Plus the whole thing meant taking my makeup off at the end of the day, which my face was thankful for.
2. I went to bed earlier (and regularly)
Earlier bedtime, more time to sleep - sounds obvious, right? Except when I’ve tried it previously it just meant more time scrolling and still falling asleep well past midnight.
But with my new shower ritual, I was so zen’d out that I found myself in a state of mental calm that meant I didn’t feel like I was missing out on my evening by switching off Netflix and leaving to sofa for bed at 9:30 instead of whatever time I felt like.
I also made 9:30 my regular turn in time to give myself a routine - mostly because it gave me enough time to wind down and still get some sleep in pre-midnight, which turns out is the best for you.
I noticed a huge difference with shifting my sleep to before midnight, and while it meant getting up earlier than usual, I felt surprisingly better rested.
3. I changed the lighting in my room
Light is one of the biggest impacts on our sleep - from the blue light from our phones affecting us to subtle sunrise lights helping us wake without too much sleep disruption, there’s always a conversation around light and sleep.
I hadn’t paid that much attention to the lighting in my bedroom given that I only used it for aforementioned flopping, but as I started to go to bed earlier and actually using the space to wind down properly I decided to invest in some blackout blinds and some low-wattage super warm bulbs for around my bed.
What it meant was that my room felt like a different space, specifically for relaxing and sleeping, with no light pollution from outside and essentially becoming a cosy cocoon.
4. I spritzed my pillow with sleep mist
Mists are definitely having a moment right now, from face mists to sleep mists. What they do is basically harness the effects of aromatherapy - which is known to have amazing relaxing effects.
Given the success of the CBD oil in the shower, I decided to try Sanctuary Spa’s Sleep Mist, laden with a scientifically proven mood soothing fragrance of jasmine, patchouli and frankincense. I spritz it on my pillow but also on my face, as it also has hyaluronic acid to keep your skin hydrated overnight. And as an added bonus, it protects your skin from blue-light, so if you do end up watching something or checking your emails one last time, at least your skin will be protected from any damage.
5. I listened to audio books
Clearly, for me, one of the biggest blockers to sleep is my phone. But I know myself, and if there’s one thing that can beat an addiction for me, it’s my own laziness. I stopped smoking after nearly 10 years because I moved to a third floor flat and couldn’t be bothered going up and down the stairs for a cigarette anymore.
Applying the same logic, I didn’t put my phone downstairs but to the next furthest place in the flat - on charge in the kitchen. I set my alarm on my Amazon Alexa in my bedroom instead, play an audiobook through her and place an eye weight a friend made me over my peepers.
Audiobook of choice? Stephen Fry reading Mythos.
It’s been weeks now and I still haven’t made it past the first chapter without falling into sweet slumber.
Nothing I changed felt like I was on the brink of scientific breakthrough, but I’ve never felt more energetic or present in my own life. Although, I must admit I’m still waiting for the hidden genius of my brain I was blaming on the lack of sleep to show itself.
To help you make the most of your sleep, shop Sanctuary Spa’s Wellness Range now.