So, if you follow me on social media. you have no doubt heard my slightly dramatic posts about not being able to sleep well.
To be honest, I don’t know when it happened. I used to be able to sleep fine, and nothing in my life really changed.
But, that doesn’t take away from the fact that eventually, I decided, I must address the lack of sleep I’m getting.
So I started trying things, and trying more things, gave up for a bit, and then tried some more. And here is what I found most helpful.
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It’s hard to know what the problem even is if you have no data. And maybe I’m just an overly data-driven person but knowing the quality of my sleep, and other important analytics helped me track my best nights of sleep and my worst. From there I looked at my notes within the app and tried to find patterns. Mostly I found if I went to bed around 10 pm, my sleep had a longer duration, and the quality was better.
It’s a free app to use and I’ve found it very accurate. That being said, I don’t know how accurate it would work if you have other people in your bed.
The app also has a “natural” alarm that helps ease wake times and eliminates the heart attack typical alarms induce.
2. Essential Oils
I NEVER thought I would be someone to say I use essential oils. I was the type of person to scoff at anyone using them for healing purposes. And while I maintain they probably won’t cure your cancer, they do help with relaxation and have a general calming effect.
My favorite one is this one. It is composed of Lavender, blue yarrow, and cypress and it is an amazing scent.
Lavender also happens to be the go-to scent to start with when people want to try aromatherapy for sleep. It has a calming effect and relieves nervous exhaustion.
For more medical information on the impact of scent, essential oils, and sleep, click here.
How to use them: Apply a dab to pulse points, temples, and chest. Breathe deeply.
3. No screens
I know, it’s hard. And we so often like to catch up on our Netflix shows before we go to bed. But removing my laptop and eliminating screen time directly before I try to fall asleep has improved my sleep quality immensely.
I found reading a better alternative and a better “wind-down” activity to not impact the chance of a successful REM sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the impact of artificial light affects our body’s natural ability to wind down and begin to produce melatonin. Our body then misses signals to be asleep and to be awake. And screens, in particular, emit blue light which is especially harmful to the body’s natural inclination to start producing melatonin. For more info on the effects of blue light, click here.
This also means putting my phone away at least one hour before I want to go bed. I shoot for an hour, although sometimes only managed to do 30 minutes. But, not staring at a screen 5 minutes before I”m trying to relax helped my mindset and relaxation, and also separated me from my inclination to do work so late at night.
Try reading, meditating, or deep breathing before you sleep, instead.
4. Comfortable environment
So, maybe it’s the designer in me but I can’t emphasize enough how much an aesthetically pleasing, and comfortable environment is. So, getting new sheets and new duvet was a nice plus to this experiment. And while I don’t have hard data to support this addition in helping my sleep… I do tend to think the more at home we feel, the easier it is to relax and the better our sleep cycle is.
And, the data generally supports this, as my sleep continued to improve after my bed makeover.
I opted for Brooklinen’s lux hardcore set and I not only loved the quality of the sheets, but I loved that they didn’t get hot in the night. I’ve been a long time supporter of Brooklinen. and I was excited to do a collaboration with them. Click here for 15% OFF their website, or check out their new store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (127 kent).
I opted for the duvet in smoke stripe, the sheets in oat, and the pillowcases in white.
5. Check your supplements/vitamins
Through this process, I found I had a magnesium deficiency, and honestly, most of you do too (but check with your doctor first). This article goes into great depth about our magnesium levels and why you too probably have a deficiency. https://wellnessmama.com/3610/low-magnesium/
I’m not going to lie, I consume a lot of caffeine and a lot of processed food and that no doubt has contributed to my lack of magnesium. For the record, I keep the caffeine consumption to the early hours so it doesn’t hinder my sleep routine in the evening.
The inability to sleep and insomnia is a big red flag for magnesium deficiency. So check with your doctor and implement this easy fix if you find you need it.
And that brings us to another popular supplement. Melatonin. While I generally shy away from using it, I find using it on rare occasions has helped my sleep quality. I found it when I used it every night eventually it stopped working for me. But, for nights that I know I will struggle with sleep, it’s a nice “extra” help.
That being said, you should check with your doctor to make sure it’s the right step for you.
Sleep is crucial. And the quality, duration, and practices around your sleep are immensely impactful. I went from barely sleeping 4 hours to getting more 5.5 and 6 hours nights in less than a month. And was even able to sleep some 7 hour nights. While that may not be the fastest turnaround ever, the fact is sleep has so many variables and the root cause is often hard to track. The steps I mentioned above have definitely helped me improve my relationship with sleep and clock a few more hours this month. So, I encourage you to try them and let me know what does and doesn’t work for you!
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