Interview with Bev Roberts, Living Fabulously with Bev
By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant
What if someone told you that improving the quality of your sleep would positively influence your experience of retirement? That the quality of your sleep impacts how you step into each day and respond to the opportunities and challenges that are presented to you? Whilst it might seem quite logical, the value of sleep is unfortunately often overlooked as we struggle to fit more and more into our already busy days.
With a background in psychology, I have an interest in sleep patterns but am no means an expert and in wanting to better understand how sleep behaviours alter as we age, I sought the advice of wellbeing coach and change specialist Bev Roberts, of Living Fabulously with Bev. Bev approaches wellbeing holistically and emphasises the importance of sleep, an approach which is strongly supported by research.
The three pillars of wellbeing are sleep, nutrition and physical activity (think of them as a three legged stool if you will) and Bev’s experience working with clients through one-on-one coaching, group sessions and online programs confirms that as women we often put the needs of others before our own, meaning that we frequently eat ‘on the go’, put off exercising and cut short our sleep time. Whilst it might be manageable when we are young, these poor habits can catch up with us as we age.
Are you wondering what can you do to make a change and improve your sleep as you step into retirement? Bev is one inspiring and passionate lady and so I am thrilled to share her expertise as you.
What are the main sleep-related challenges that women are likely to experience as they approach the age of retirement?
There are three main challenges which tend to impact the quality of sleep as we age:
1. Menopause. The hormonal disruption can contribute to night sweats and restlessness
2. Inflammation. If you haven’t looked after yourself over the years, for example eating processed foods, not getting enough physical activity, and drinking too much alcohol, it’s not unusual to develop sore joints, especially in the hips, which can cause discomfort at night
3. Monkey mind. This refers to our sub-conscious surfacing as we begin to drift off – our mind racing about the things we haven’t done or things that could go wrong. This tends to happen because we haven’t processed the day effectively, and whilst we can experience this at any age, it’s more common as we age and become more reflective.
[Never heard of monkey mind before? It is a Buddhist term which refers the human mind as being filled with crazy monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. I’m sure you’ve experienced this once or twice when you’ve been trying to drift off to sleep – Megan]
What key piece of advice would you offer to women struggling with the quality of their sleep?
Just like introducing babies to a sleep pattern, we need to create a routine for ourselves. There are three basic steps to improving the quality of sleep:
- Physically move each day. The activity you choose doesn’t matter and you don’t need to be able to climb a mountain – simply start where you are at. What is important is that you incorporate breath work into your activity and ideally exercise early in the day.
- Establish a regular bed and waking time. Be consistent across the week (including weekends!) and enable your body’s biology to support you and ensure that you are drowsy at the right time.
- Create a wind-down routine. If you are like so many women and feel that you never have any time for yourself, carve out the time just before bed for some ‘me time’. Avoid technology and spend time doing something you enjoy such as mindful colouring-in or reading a light novel. This enables the melatonin (a hormone that controls your sleep cycles) to kick in more effectively.
What is one great health and wellbeing resource that you can share with readers?
I’ve created the Guided Relaxation for Restorative Sleep for people who want to fall asleep and stay asleep with ease. It can be downloaded from my website (www.livingfabulously.com/freebies ) and I encourage you to listen to it when you go to bed to remove the stress and tension from your mind. Recognising that not everyone practices meditation regularly, I’ve made it easy for you. It is a guided practice and so all you have to do is listen and relax each part of your body.
As I discourage the use of technology before bed, I recommend that you download the meditation onto your phone and then pop it onto flight mode to avoid being disrupted by notifications.
Can you share a story of one of your clients and how they benefited from working with you?
I recently worked with one lady who had been struggling with sleep since her early teens. She had tried every remedy imaginable from herbal teas to hypnosis and medication, but nothing made a difference. As a result she had simply accepted that feeling tired and waking up fatigued was normal. Her worry, however, was that her tiredness was impacting her mood and relationships with others.
Through one-on-one coaching sessions we explored her daily routine we found that while she had eliminated coffee from her diet, she was still drinking a lot of black tea which is also high in caffeine! Caffeine also acts as a diuretic and given that the brain comprises 75% water, it’s not unusual that she was feeling sluggish. We also uncovered that because she was waking up exhausted she had little motivation to exercise.
In light of this we created new habits whereby she reduced her caffeine intake, started drinking more water early in the day (so that she wasn’t disturbed by bathroom visits during the night) and incorporated physical activity into her day. She also made time to read a light novel about 30 minutes before she wanted to be asleep, something she hadn’t done in years. We made exercise easy by setting the rule that each time she changed task she need to do a quick burst of activity, such as static lunges, cheeky squats or taking the long way around to the clothes line. I also encouraged her to stick post-it notes around the house saying things like ‘move your butt’!
By making these small incremental changes, her sleep quality improved dramatically over a two week period. Her greatest realisation - simple changes, done consistently had the greatest impact.
What might this mean for you?
- Make changes incrementally. Rather becoming overwhelmed, incorporate one small change each week.
- Avoid thinking about physical activity as a chore. Looking after grandchildren is a great way to incorporate incidental exercise into your days. Getting up and down off the floor or taking them to the park for a play are just a couple of ways that you can be active without even realising it!
As Bev says, quality sleep = quality life!
As Bev, a change specialist for more than 20 years, embarked on coaching women in the areas of change and wellbeing, she noticed a recurring theme. Brilliant and bold women weren’t just tired, they were exhausted! The more she talked with busy women, the more she saw the need to bust the myth that successful people don’t sleep much. Bev knew what quality sleep had done for her, and knew that she could teach others the restorative power of a full night’s sleep that leads to a vibrant life.
And now in her online course Sleeping Fabulously, she teaches people who have had too many restless nights how to lie still, close their eyes, go to sleep and stay asleep. Because that’s the real heart of Living Fabulously! Helping others learn to slow down and enjoy life before life slows them down. Bev loves helping people this way. It truly motivates her to get out of bed in the morning.
If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read How your GP can help as you prepare for life in retirement and Retirement Planning – Is Your Financial Position Keeping You Awake at Night?
In planning for a holiday we always think “we need to go there” and “we should see that” but when Day One of our holiday arrives, we draw a blank…What were all of those things we were going to enjoy? In the busyness of life they’ve slipped our mind.
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