How well do you sleep? In a series of diary entries from women across the UK, Stylist is exploring one of our most prolific obsessions…
Here, hypnotherapist and anxiety expert at Calmer You, Chloe Brotheridge, explains how she gets in the right mindset for sleep.
Name: Chloe Brotheridge
Profession: Hypnotherapist and anxiety expert
Actual sleep: 7 hours 30 minutes
Ideal amount: 9 hours
3 words to describe your sleep: Comfortable, deep and sometimes noisy (I’ve been a sleep talker ever since I was a child)
Sleep quality: 8.5/10
I love sleep and I love early nights, possibly to the point where it’s a bit annoying for my boyfriend, who’d probably like to stay up and watch a movie! I usually get up at 6am and feel very much like I want to get on with the day. I start my morning with transcendental meditation, a 20-minute mantra meditation I do twice a day. I also practise qigong, so I need quite a lot of time before starting work at 8am.
For the last three months, I’ve been taking a break from alcohol and my desire to stay up late has completely gone - I’m quite boring! Not drinking has also improved the quality of my kip - I wake up less and seem to have a deeper sleep. It’s not for everyone, but cutting alcohol or having a few days where you’re not drinking can be great for sleep.
I also quit caffeine a few years ago and now if I have a coffee I’m really sensitive to it. Cutting it out made me realise just how much your body gets used to caffeine if you consume it regularly. Now, if I accidentally drink something containing caffeine in the afternoon, I’ll be up until two in the morning! In fact, I often advise people with anxiety to cut out caffeine because there’s a strong link between anxiety and caffeine consumption.
I’m quite into ashwagandha, which is a ayurvedic herb that’s really helpful for things like anxiety and sleep. I always recommend Pukka’s night time tea and capsules (Pukkaherbs.com, £10) to my clients. This contains ashwagandha and valerian root, which they find really helpful for unwinding, switching off and managing their anxiety.
6pm: I finish work (I usually work from home), and do my second meditation of the day.
7pm: I’ll take my make-up off. I recently started double cleansing with Skinceuticals blemish and age cleansing gel (£37, Skinceuticals.co.uk) and it’s really helped my skin.
A therapist once told me that massaging your face causes you to produce serotonin, which can help you to relax, so I often do a facial massage after my cleanse, and I also recommend this to my clients. I use some essential oils and Jojoba oil (The Jojoba Company, £12.99) and add a few drops of lavender oil, then give myself a facial massage for about five minutes.
7.15pm: After that, I’ll watch something on TV, read a book or do a bit of work on my laptop sitting on the sofa. Sometimes, I also have coaching clients in the evening so I’ll talk to them on Skype.
Because I’m in charge of my work, I don’t find working in the evening stresses me out. I don’t have a load of external deadlines, so I feel like I can check my emails at 9pm and there’ll never anything that’s going to stop me being able to get to sleep.
9.30pm: After a couple of hours, I make a decision to go to bed. If my brain’s been very active that day, I might need to unwind a bit more and I sometimes take a couple of Pukka capsules before bed.
If I’ve delivered a workshop that evening, I can be left feeling extra buzzy and it takes me a little longer to wind down. If I need a bit more help switching off, I might listen to a hypnotherapy recording or a guided meditation.
Another thing I occasionally do to help me sleep is listen to ASMR videos. ASMR (or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is a kind of synesthesia which only some people experience. When these people listen to certain sounds, like whispering or tapping, they get a relaxing physical tingling sensation on their scalp and down their neck.
For people who don’t get ASMR, the videos may seem really weird. I tend to listen to them for around half an hour and they’re usually just someone talking to the camera. They might be talking about their day, doing their make-up or even reading a menu.
I always sleep under two duvets (except during the summer) because I get really cold, while my boyfriend sleeps under just a sheet! Once I’ve settled down for the night, it usually only takes me ten to fifteen minutes to get to sleep.
Chloe Brotheridge’s book The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, A Calmer You is out now