When I started to experience insomnia this last fall I took immediate steps to fix it. Sleep is one of my favorite things in life. I mean the good quality, deep, not-waking-up at 3am kind of sleep. That’s when our bodies renew cells, build and repair muscle tissue and take care of all the inner workings of our amazing bodies. It’s been recommended that 7-8 hours is the amount of sleep we need per day but everyone is different. Listen to your body and begin to notice the natural rhythms of sleep. During times of stress, both physical and mental, it’s a good idea to get more rest than usual. The following things have worked for me:
1. Prepare your body for rest. Eliminate caffeine in coffee, tea and chocolates late in the day. Read how I quit coffee here. Sip some warm herbal tea a couple of hours before bed. Chamomile is a good choice or I love “Sleepy Time” blend by Celestial Seasonings. The herbs will relax your nervous system and the warm water will relax your body. Avoid eating too much before bed, the digestive process will spike your blood sugar and cause restless sleep. If you are hungry try a spoonful of cottage cheese, yogurt or some raw almonds. Incorporate some gentle stretching and yoga breath into the end of your evening.
2. Avoid mental stimulation. Turn off the phone, television and/or computer at least 30-60 minutes before going to bed. And if you have a TV in the bedroom, consider removing it for good. Watching TV in bed may FEEL relaxing but the reality is it can cause insomnia, not to mention nightmares if you watch the news. Computers give off light that stimulates the brain and increases alertness so shut it down early. Avoid mental stimulation that may cause stress. Instead, listen to relaxing music and do some gentle stretching.
3. Keep pets out of the bedroom. Most people love to cuddle and sleep with their furry friends but nothing has changed my sleep more than giving my pets their own room. My night is now not interrupted with dream-barking and clawing, digging in the sheets, odd smells, or licking and grooming. Pet fur and dander can also exacerbate allergies. I know this one is sadder than removing the TV but it works!
4. Create a comfortable, clean sleep sanctuary. Flip your mattress every 6 months, launder bedding often, pick up clutter from the bedroom space. Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Too much heat or just a little light can disrupt sleep patterns or wake you up. I turn my thermostat down before going to bed and make sure all lights are off.
5. Begin a night-time ritual. Any repeated activity done before bed that signals your brain this is the time to prepare for sleep. I began using lavender oil every night on my skin. When getting into bed I rub several drops on my temples, wrists, and neck while listening to some meditative music. Lavender is relaxing and calming and the ritual itself is a nice way to unwind. It could be a warm bath, prayer or meditation, or light reading. Anything that becomes a habit will trigger sleep.
Let me know if you have favorite ways to get a good sleep