The Best-Ever Solutions for Insomnia
So I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m an insomniac. A big one. It runs in my family; my father is one, my sister, my grandfather, nobody’s a good sleeper. And it’s unfair because when I was a kid, I could sleep through anything.
My trouble isn’t so much sleeping, it’s falling asleep. I can’t shut off my brain, especially if I’m under stress. So to stop myself from reaching for the easiest answers to remedy the problem, i.e. a glass of wine or a sleep aid, I came up with a bunch of things that help me get ready to drift off into dream land.
- Meditation Specifically, meditation podcasts. I now subscribe to approximately 978 meditation podcasts, and every single one of them has at least two targeted at helping you drift off to sleep. There’s even an app called “iSleep Easy” that is specifically designed to help you drift off to sleep. This one’s great because you can mix and match tracks, and there’s even a “Wee Hours Rescue” if you have a tendency to wake up in the middle of the night in a panic (like I do).
- Never underestimate the power of Sleepytime Tea. This shit is amazing. It’s made by Celestial Seasonings, by far my favorite tea company. Now there’s even “Sleepytime Extra” which has Valerian in it, which is a special herb that helps with sleep. Make sure you check with your doctor if you’re taking any prescriptions first, as this might interact. But just about every brand has their own “sleepy tea,” any tea with chamomile will do the trick. They also say lavender is good, too, but the idea of drinking lavender weirds me out.
- Eliminate Blue Light. Yep, this is the one you’re dreading. Screens. Stop looking at your phone. Don’t work on your computer for at least an hour before bed. Even eliminate your TV time for an hour or so before bed (I don’t do this, but experts say it helps). Try reading a book or your Kindle. Nothing relaxes me quite like a book, especially a boring one. That’ll put me to sleep immediately 😉
- Take a Warm Bubble Bath Now, I’m not generally a bath person, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If I am really struggling with a bout of insomnia, I will try a bubble bath, which always tires me out. There’s something about getting out of a warm bath combined with the drastic decrease in your body’s temperature that’s supposed to make you sleepy. It works.
- White Noise Hi, I’m Amy and I’m a white noise addict. Seriously, I cannot sleep without white noise. Fortunately, there are apps for that. And websites. But my favorite is a good ol’ Vornado fan in my room. When I’m away from home, if I don’t have a fan, I can sleep to just about any form of white noise, but the app Sleep Pillow is my fave. There are lots of sounds to choose from including hairdryer (which always puts me to sleep), vacuum cleaner (which apparently my mom used to run when I was a baby to get me to fall asleep, so at least I know who to blame for that one), and airplane (which I literally listen to on airplanes to drown out all the other noise.)
- In a Dark, Dark Room Night lights are great when you’re a kid. Hell, if my husband is away, I still like to keep the hall light on. But I only allow a sliver of it to fall into my bedroom, and when he’s here I get the room as dark as possible. Even moonlight will keep me awake these days. If you’re having trouble, try darkening your room as much as possible.
- 7. Journal There are points in my life where I will sit down and spend an hour before bed just pouring my heart out into a journal for pages and pages. I’ve found that if I have too much on my mind, even getting it out onto paper helps lift the burden a little. These days, I’m a fan of gratitude journaling before bed. I’ll write down three things I’m truly grateful for before bed; it puts me in a good head space for sleeping and makes me focus on the good in my life.
- Break a Sweat I mean, you should really be exercising anyways considering all the benefits it can have on your body, mind, mood, et cetera. But if you’re not exercising and you find yourself suffering from sleepless nights, try throwing some into the mix. Doesn’t have to be crazy sprinting and stuff, but even a 15 minute walk in the middle of the day could help. Make sure you don’t do anything too strenuous close to bedtime, though, because that can exacerbate the problem. If you’re like me and not a morning exerciser, aim for mid-afternoon, or at least 3-ish hours before bed to break a sweat.
- Yoga I talk about yoga a lot, right? I love it. And there are certain poses that can help wind your body down for bed. Google “yoga for sleep” and you’ll get tons of examples. My favorites are the poses that you can do on and around the bed.
- Chill Out! And I don’t mean your mood (although you should do that, too). Sleeping in a cooler room is optimal for our bodies. There’s a lot of science behind it, but the gist is that our body goes through temp cycles during the day and cools off at night. Anything above 75 and below 54 degrees is not great for sleeping. The optimal sleeping temperature is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, who doesn’t like snuggling up under a blanket? I personally set my thermostat for 65 degrees in the winter, and 72 in the summer.
- Skip the Nap I always wake up from naps feeling like Rip van Winkle. In college, I loved them, but as I get older my body is just like, “Nope, if we’re sleeping, we’re going all night.” So unless you stayed up all night, skip the nap. You’ll sleep easier at night.
- Get on Schedule This is a really tough one for me. I’ve been working from home for 10 years, and finding my schedule was a struggle. At the beginning, I would sleep until 11:00 and then be up until 2:00 and it was a nightmare. Finding a semi-set schedule where I get tired at the same time at night is very helpful for falling asleep.
- Have a Ritual It doesn’t have to be complicated. Put on your jammies. Wash your face. Read a book. Just do some things that train your body to recognize that it’s time for bed. You’d be surprised what the force of habit can do.
I hope my tips and tricks help you fall (and stay) asleep!
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