I’m a horrible sleeper, always have been. I’m pretty sure I’m genetically set to avoid sleep at all costs. Unfortunately my husband is the same way, and I’m sure we passed some of this onto our kids. Watch out at our house when the full moon is around, restlessness is in full bloom at night!
I’ve read books, followed advice of sleep consultants, prayed that sleep would come and all the while I found that a lot of the advice didn’t work. The truth is that for those of us who struggle with sleep there are usually more than one reason this is happening. Right off the bat, I battle an anxiety disorder so this causes hurdle number one for me. Secondly, I’ve currently got two kids under two so sleep is a foreign concept, although hopefully just for a short while. Thirdly, I have found things like clutter to be so consuming that I can’t sleep; clutter in my house and clutter in my mind.
For those of us who suffer with insomnia or trouble falling asleep, there are things that plague our thoughts or occupy our mind so we can’t fully relax in order to embark upon a night of restful sleep. These following seven steps are what worked for me and my family, but they may do absolutely nothing for you. It really is a task of experimenting with all of your life components and finding the correct balance. So much of sleep issues stem from us all trying to do or have TOO MUCH STUFF.
Think about when you’re on vacation and you’re body is either exhausted from site seeing or so relaxed that you can just crash on the bed and instantly fall asleep. What is different from there and from your own home? Is it the sleep space? Is it your activity level?
After many years of dealing with these problems, after trying various sleeping medications, after seeing the affects of sleep deprivation, we finally found remedies that worked for us. Here are the 5 steps to better sleep, according to our family:
1. Nutrition: Like it or not what you put into your body, especially from dinnertime on will have an impact on your sleep. I can’t consume alcohol too late or I have horrible sleep, if any at all. I also can’t have high sugar desserts or anything that will cause digestive issues, because both will keep me awake. It’s best to avoid too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and any heavy foods that cause you personal distress. Eating clean will help your body feel lighter and your mood and mind will thank you for it when you lay your head down for sleep.
2. Essential oils: When I’ve had a stressful day and I’m wound up, and I know for a fact it will be hard for me to sleep I reach for my essential oils. If it’s still early in the day I diffuse Poofy Organics organic lavender and frankincense. I strongly believe in cleansing the air and my mind of the stress and negativity. It’s important that the oils are pure and organic; if they’re not you will be able to smell the difference and the effect will likely be different (i.e. it won’t help you relax, etc). If it’s bedtime, I apply the Sleep Support blend to really get the job done. (Yes these links are mine- I sell Poofy Organics, and I do so because I fell in love with these products as they saved my sanity and my health!) Here is the diffuser we use in our room: VicTsing 300ml Cool Mist Humidifier Ultrasonic Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser for Office Home Bedroom Living Room Study Yoga Spa – Wood Grain Essential oils are great remedies to use in place of things like sleeping medications.
3. Magnesium: Either by soaking in an Epsom salt bath or by consuming a magnesium rich diet or supplement, incorporating magnesium into your routine will greatly help you fall asleep. There may be health concerns so obviously ask your doctor first! We enjoy adding epsom salts to our evening bath routine to calm us for the night.
4. Ambiance: What your room looks and feels like matters! We require complete darkness with black out curtains, an air conditioner keeping the room very cool, and a sound machine. Additionally, I always sleep better when my bed is made and clutter is picked up..but I’m not going to lie, that is a rare occasion with two babies in the house. Try keeping your room anywhere from 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that cozy feeling when you slip under your blankets.
5. Journal: It is so beneficial to both your state of mind and the organization of your day to day life to journal. One kind of journal is an art journal where you doodle or draw whatever comes to mind. This is only relaxing if you enjoy art in this way, it shouldn’t be stressful or anxiety-provoking. Another way to journal is to write a stream of consciousness that empties out the baggage of the day from the pen to the paper, leaving your mind open to relaxation. It’s as if you’re physically removing the stress from the space it is occupying in your mind and putting it somewhere safe, to think about at another time (or not). Lastly, you can try writing various kinds of lists. You can write your top 5 to do list for the next day, you can write a gratitude list, or you can write a “did it” list of things you accomplished that day. It will depend on you what suits your personality best. Here are some journals to browse through and get you inspired:
6. Limit screen time/blue lights: I love scrolling through social media in bed as much as the next person but the truth is it is horrible for sleep. The blue lights alone can wreak havoc on our body and sleep rythyms. Social media is a whole different issue entirely, where you may read something or see something that will get you excited or amped up rather than relax you. If you must read digitally in bed, use an app or phone feature such as the “night shift” on iphone or f.lux for Mac (get here for free). Better yet, pick up a regular old book or Paperwhite Kindle for blue-light free reading in bed.
7. Chamomile at bedtime: You can grow these flowers and make your own bath herbs or personal products, or you can purchase chamomile tea and sip it before bed; either way chamomile is awesome at relaxation. Another option is to diffuse chamomile essential oil, which is great for acheiving restfulness as well as many other mind and body related benefits. Here is the essential oil I recommend. My infant and toddler both enjoy some chamomile tea at bedtime, I simply adjust the dosage accordingly. It is a safe herb that I would highly recommend everyone try adding to their sleepytime regimen.
There are other things the may or may not work for you and your situation. Cannabis may help if it’s legal where you live and that’s a lifestyle choice with which you’re comfortable pursuing. There are also tinctures that can be made by more homeopathic practitioners, which I would recommend seeing a naturopath for suggestions and dosages. Other ways to increase sleepiness at night is to get exercise done earlier in the day, cut back on caffiene and lower stress (all easier said than done, I know!). Clear your mind and your home from the negativity and you’ll start sleeping better. Pray for peace of mind and meditate your thoughts to stillness. It’s possible to sleep better without being heavily medicated, I promise you this!