This was my last day at RNOH Stanmore (last half day anyway) I was up and dressed nice and early, we all shared a breakfast and were even joined by an ex patient who was back for her 3 month review, she talked to me about her progress and I’m feeling really optimistic. Its so lovely to hear other peoples success stories. After breakfast I started the arduous process of cramming all my belongings into suitcases! I can’t really remember bringing all the stuff I ended up with but I guess I must have! I was about half packed by the time our last ever session started.
The final session was just the 3 of us who started the programme together, the discussion topic was Sleep Hygiene. We took it in turn to pick a small picture out of a plastic wallet, we then discussed the item on the picture and sorted them into heaps of ‘good’ for sleep ‘bad’ for sleep and ‘somewhere in the middle’
Good things that aid sleep include:
- Drinking milk (unless you’re intolerant) as it includes a chemical call tryptophan that aids sleep.
- Darkness, light entering your eyes keeps you awake so ideally when you’re asleep you should be sleeping in the dark.
- Fresh air. Getting outside for a while during the day not only helps top up your vitamin D levels it also makes your body release a chemical called melatonin. Melatonin helps your body regulate circadian rhythms, including your sleep wake cycle. Shift workers sometimes take melatonin as an aid to sleep. Melatonin is triggered my blue light waves entering the eyes (as well as by sunlight on skin). This gave me pause for though, as many of you know I wear orange/rose/yellow tinted glasses the vast majority of the time. The tints filter out the blue end of the light spectrum and prevent those waves from entering my eyes, by blocking blue light am I hindering my melatonin production? Would I benefit from melatonin tablets? I think it warrants further research!
In Between things (that need to be done properly to work) include:
- Exercise, exercising during the day leads to release of endorphins and expenditure of energy and all sorts of good things but exercising too close to bed time can keep you awake and give you a ‘buzz’
- Bubble baths (warm but not too hot) the warm acts as a muscle relaxant and the natural drop in temperature afterwards causes drowsiness (a very mild version of why people who have severe hypothermia just go to sleep and don’t wake up). However if your bath is too warm your body will take time and energy to cool you down, this can keep you awake. If your bath is too cool then your body has to warm you up, again not helping you sleep.
- Cat Naps, I know for a lot of people naps are essentially to keep going but if you’re napping after 3pm or for longer than half an hour you’re actually having a negative impact on your proper sleep!
Bad things to do to aid sleep include:
- Smoking, cigarettes contain nicotine, this is a stimulant.
- Coffee.. caffeine (fairly obvious) but other substances can also contain caffeine, these include tea, chocolate (yes really) and even some medications. Paracetamol ‘plus’ and many of the ‘fast acting’ painkillers contain caffeine to speed up absorption.
- TV, (sorry folks) TV emits lightwaves very similar to those in natural light, watching TV or using a smart phone can trick your eyes into thinking you’re outside in daylight.
- Clocks, clock watching is a common cause of anxiety during the night, you lay there watching the time tick over and noticing how late it’s getting and you still haven’t fallen asleep! Turn your clock around.
There were a few more for each category but I can’t give away the whole programme now can I?
After the session I got back to packing and generally having a laugh. All too soon it was time to say my good byes, It was a mixed experience for me, I’m very happy to be going home but I know the next few weeks are going to be tough while I set up and maintain new routines. I have met some amazing people and achieved amazing things. Its an experience I wouldn’t change for the world. Thank you everyone who has helped and supported me along the way. I really hope these blog posts have given you some insight into my rehab stay and the programme in genera and if you still have questions then please don’t hesitate to ask.
After hugs and kisses from everyone we were on our way home. I even managed to stay awake all the way 😉
The rest of the afternoon was spent largely horizontal I caught up on TV and did a little bit of unpacking. Tomorrow I start work on my goals and my new habits. I’ll be up at 9am ready for some stretches!
Thank you all for reading along with my journey and I’ll be sure to keep you updated with my progress intermittently. To my lovely new friends on the ward, if you’re reading this you are all fabulous! keep up the hard work and stay in touch!!
Ciao for now folks!