Here's Why Moving House Can Wreck Your Sleep Pattern

Here's how to get a good night's sleep after you move to a new home.
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There aren’t many things that are as stressful as moving house. In theory, you wouldn’t expect it to be that demanding, but moving locations can take a toll on your body. Of course, you’re excited to move into your new home, but so much goes into that process.

So much so that the average person sleeps for just 5 hours, 20 minutes the night before moving house, according to Happy Beds.

They surveyed 2000 people, analysing the link between the stress of moving house and sleep deprivation. The anxiety of moving out starts way before the move has even started, as 71% of those surveyed lost a night’s sleep over the stress of moving.

It’s not surprising that people feel worried about moving homes as 90% of people have previously had possessions broken in the process of moving, with the average cost of replacing broken items costing £196.

After the move is completed, the majority of respondents said it takes 3 to 4 days to fix their sleeping pattern after moving.

First-night insomnia of a new home is so common that it has its own name. It’s called the “first-night effect” and is caused by stress and the brain’s natural anxiety when sleeping in a new environment.

Your sleep doesn’t have to suffer once you’ve moved home. Here are the seven most effective tips.

Don’t go too crazy with caffeine

For several people, bundled in with move-in day is an increased reliance on caffeine. However, if you find yourself getting mentally tired, try avoiding high-caffeine drinks after lunchtime.

The quarter-life of caffeine is around 12 hours, meaning it stays in your body for around that amount. That means if you opt for a pick-me-up drink at 4 PM, it’ll stay in your system until 4 AM the next day – that’s not too great for sleep.

Instead of drowning in coffee, opt for drinking a glass of water, taking short breaks, and going for a walk instead. Decaffeinated herbal teas are fine, too. Your body and brain will thank you later.

Unpack your bedroom first

Whilst many people tend to unpack the kitchen first as it seems like the easiest option given that there are storage options already, you should unpack your bedroom first.

After all, the last thing you want is to rush unpacking your bedroom at the end of the day and leave it half-finished as you’re too tired. Take your time and make it as comfortable as possible while adding bits and pieces from your older bedroom. If your room needs painting, we’d also recommend doing it another day as the strong smell of paint can keep you awake that night, too.

Make sure to take 10 minutes out of your day to walk around your new area

You can appease the suspicious, anxious side of your unconscious a little bit by having a walk around your new area. Take a walk around the block and have a chat with your new neighbours if the opportunity arises.

By familiarising yourself with both your new home and the area itself, your brain will stop evaluating your new home as a potential danger.

Wake up bright and early on move-in day

While you may think grabbing a few extra hours on move-in day is a good move, waking up bright and early to get some sunshine can put you in good stead. Scientifically, early morning sunlight reinforces your circadian rhythms, meaning you drift off to sleep more naturally and easily later in the day.

Skip the TV that night and instead pick up a book

If you’ve been unpacking all day you may be tempted to watch a bit of TV to switch off at night, however, we’d suggest picking up a book instead.

A study by The University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%, working faster and better than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or walking.

Plus, reading an absorbing book also makes you more likely to experience an increase in slow-wave activity (a type of brain wave associated with deep sleep) during the initial stages of your sleep cycle, meaning you’ll have a deeper sleep overall and wake up feeling more restful – ready to finish any unpacking you didn’t manage to tackle on the first day.

Is anxiety keeping you awake? Add an icepack to your chest for 15 minutes

If you find yourself wide awake with anxiety about the house move, you should add a towel-wrapped icepack to your chest and hold it there for 15 minutes.

This helps cool down the vagus nerve (the longest nerve in your body), which is responsible for your parasympathetic nervous system. Throughout the 15 minutes, you will slowly see yourself calming down and your heart rate lowering to a more still-like rate.

The night before your big move, practice sleep affirmations

Sleep affirmations are positive statements or phrases that a person repeats to themself before going to bed. By repeatedly saying these positive sleep affirmations out loud, they reprogram their subconscious mind to adopt more positive thoughts about sleep as a whole.

This is because it ‘tricks’ your mind to focus on more positive thoughts and feelings regarding asleep, allowing people to have a more restful and rejuvenated sleep. They also work at stopping (or at least limiting) the number of anxious thoughts.

Some examples of sleep affirmations include:

  • “I will get seven hours of sleep tonight.” (This is the recommended amount.)
  • “I deserve a good night’s sleep, and will wake up tomorrow feeling energised.”
  • “I am fully prepared for the house move tomorrow, and know it will go well.”
  • “My stress and worries cannot control me. I am letting them go to promote peace, and will, therefore, have a good night’s sleep before moving house tomorrow.”
  • “My mind is calm, my eyes are tired and my body is looking forward to resting.”