I have never been a good sleeper. For as long as I can remember I have struggled to quiet my brain at night. It is as if my mind kicks into overdrive the minute that it knows I am about to lay down in my bed. All of a sudden my thoughts run wild with every conscious (and even subconscious) thing that has been on my mind lately. At it’s worst, I was sleeping an average of 4-5 hours a night… not even close to enough rest for a productive day.
Not willing to rely on over the counter sleeping pills (trust me, I’ve tried them before), I decided to start experimenting with different natural solutions. I took melatonin, drank sleepytime tea, put the essential oils on my feet (a suggestion from my acupuncturist – and yes, I tried acupuncture too), counting sheep, drinking warm milk…. you name it, I tried it. A few things would help me here and there but nothing would stick.
After much trial and error, I have finally found a nighttime routine that has significantly decreased the amount of time that it takes for me to fall asleep and STAY asleep.
Separating from the screen
I no longer allow myself to use my phone or laptop 30 minutes before bed. By reducing the blue light that I am being exposed to, it keeps my mind from becoming overstimulated too close to bed
Known to help reduce cortisol levels, I have found that taking ½ tbsp before bed has helped my body totally unwind and prepare itself to get some rest. To learn more about the benefits of this supplement and whether it would be right for you, talk to your doctor.
Buying an oil diffuser changed my nighttime game. My favorite one is from Artizen and is called “Good Sleep.” If I’m really wound up, I will also run the diffuser with lavender oil for about an hour before we get into bed. This calming oil helps me feel more relaxed the moment I walk into the bedroom.
Keep the room cool
This one is simple: there is nothing worse than tossing and turning because you are too hot. We run our ceiling fan every night, even in the dead of winter.
Focus your mind
The worst thing that I do when I am trying to fall asleep is to let my mind wander. In order to avoid having that happen, I try to hyperfocus on relaxing every part of my body starting at my toes. As each part of me relaxes, so does my mind.
Now when I am really anxious, and this tactic doesn’t work, I have found that I can trick my brain by “pre-dreaming” – aka creating a story that forces me to think about something other than my reality in order to keep my mind from going back to all of my stresses/worries.
Don’t force it
One thing I realized about myself is that when I try to force myself to get into bed before I am ready to go to sleep, I have an even more difficult time falling asleep. It’s been really helpful for me to recognize that my body needs more time to unwind from the day. Taking an extra 20-30 minutes to allow myself to unwind has helped me fall asleep more quickly once I am in bed.
“Sleep is in an investment in the energy you need to be effective tomorrow”
– Tom Rath