Tips For Getting More Sleep, From One Insomniac To Another 💤
"I'm so tired." Raise your hand if you say this either to yourself or to someone around you at least one day a week. 🙋🏼♀️🙋🏼♀️🙋🏼♀️🙋🏼♀️🙋🏼♀️
To some people, sleep comes easily. Ethan, for example, is out like a light almost as soon as his golden locks touch the pillow. He and sleep are the best of friends and can catch up anytime, anywhere.
For people like me, however, sleep and I are barely on speaking terms sometimes. We have a forced and tense relationship. Back in college - and I know some of you won't believe me, but those who know me well can vouch - I was averaging about 3 hours a sleep a night. Coffee has always been my best friend - only adding further context to the coffee-related pun in my blog name, I daresay.
It's not that I don't like going to bed. Quite the contrary - sleep is a great escape for me. I love getting a nice, relaxing nap, or a restful and lengthy night's rest. But for whatever reason - be it my lifestyle or my genes - I very rarely get my suggested 7-8 hours of shut-eye.
I don't tell you that for pity. I mention my sleep struggles to give some support to the ideas I'm about to throw out to you. Besides the fact that I am a light sleeper and get easily - very, very easily - woken up, my biggest sleep issue is actually that of falling asleep. I've spent many nights laying in bed staring at some combination of the ceiling, my computer, the clock, and my eyelids for hours upon hours, trying to fall asleep.
With that said, as I get older, I am slowly but surely learning a few tips and tricks I can pull out to help me drift off on the nights when I need it.
And, because I know I am far from being the only person on earth in a similar boat, I feel obliged to share some of these little nuggets of knowledge in the hopes that someone else might find some of them helpful. Because let's face it, the world would be a much more pleasant place if more of us were simply getting enough sleep.
So, here's a curated list of things that I do regularly before bed, to help ensure that I get to sleep faster and enjoy a more restful night.
Let me know in the comments below if you already do any of these if you try one and it helps you, or even if you have any other brilliant ideas to add to the list for all of us to benefit from.
READ A GOOD BOOK
I'm going to just come right out and say it - I hate reading and always have. I have never been anything even close to a book nerd, and I wouldn't have ever even given this idea a second thought if it weren't for Marie Kondo. What does a Japanese tidying master have to do with this one you might ask? Well, to make a long story short, I loved her series on Netflix so much that one day I decided I wanted to learn more about her method and so I reluctantly purchased her book to merely skim it for the important details. It was only a few pages in that I realized I was much more than a few pages in, if that makes sense.
I love her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing so much. I flew right through it - completely captivated by each page. The only time I got to read it was before bed, which became something I deeply looked forward to each night. But the only thing is, 20-or-so pages in and my eyelids were getting so heavy I could hardly keep them open. It's true when they say that reading makes you sleepy. Plus, when you find a book you love as much as I loved that one - and the many I've read since it - you can check out from the day and forget the stresses and worries around you, which helps you relax and feel tired.
OPEN A WINDOW
This is probably the most simple of all of my suggestions, but - weather permitting - open a window in your room. No one can argue that fresh air isn't great, but I didn't realize how much it helped me sleep until literally this week. Ethan and I opened our window for a few nights in a row because the outside temperature was lower than what it was in our flat, so we thought we'd be energy-conscious and open it. What we found was both of us slept so much more soundly and deeply with the window open. The cooler air and slight breeze did wonders for our comfort levels and REM cycles.
LUSH SLEEPY LOTION
I swear by this stuff and if you believe all the hype, then I'm not the only one. Lush Sleepy lotion is everything. I rub a little bit of it on my hands and arms before getting into bed and the mellow lavender scent calms me to my soul. It has to be one of the most effective relaxing products on the market today. I've tried plenty of the candles and bath salts, but this stuff is like a little container of magic.
Wearing pajamas seems so old-fashioned, I know. But if you're looking for insomnia solutions, this is definitely one that needs to be included. I used to wear literally anything but them to bed - my underwear, sweat clothes, old t-shirts, even the clothes I had on that day, or nothing at all! But nothing helps me get as good of a night's sleep as a nice, comfy pair of pjs. It's partly mental, I'm sure. A quick Google search will probably tell you that there's plenty of research explaining the mental benefits of changing into sleep clothes before bed helping your mind change gears. But in addition to that, pajamas are cooler, more comfortable, and more breathable to wear than anything else - they were literally designed to be perfect to wear to bed. It's like having a good pair of work shoes or a really functional raincoat - certain articles of clothing were created for certain purposes. You wouldn't wear stilettos in a factory or a suede jacket in the rain, so why would you consider wearing anything other than pajamas to bed?
DRINK WATER & KEEP A COLD GLASS ON THE NIGHTSTAND
We're supposed to drink half of our body weight in ounces of water a day. I don't even have to do simple math to know that I'm not coming close to my recommended levels of hydration. And when I'm not drinking enough water, I genuinely feel lousy. My stomach and head are as unhappy as my skin and dry mouth and throat are. So, drinking a glass of water can help alleviate some of the issues that you might be feeling that make it harder for you to sleep.
Also, drinking a glass of cold water before bed helps cool down my body because when I'm thirsty, I'm automatically too warm, which hinders my sleep abilities greatly. And while it might not seem like it, your body and mind are working hard while you rest repairing cells and logging memories, and all of that takes hydration to keep blood flowing and organs functioning properly. It's hard to over-hydrate yourself, so getting just one more glass in before you hit the hay can't hurt anyway.
TAKE A BATH OR SHOWER
For me, few things are more relaxing than taking a nice bubble bath. I take a bath 4 or 5 times a week and when I travel or relocate, I make a point of finding hotels and new living spaces that have adequate tub space so that I can enjoy my much-needed soaking.
Ethan is a long, hot shower taker. He can stand under the running water for an hour or more if you let him. He says that letting the warm water hit his back can relieve much of his day-to-day stress. And he loves letting the water literally wash away the worries of his day.
Bathing is great for your body and skin. Upon further research, you'll discover that it helps so many functions of your body perform better, so enjoying a shower or bath before bed can do wonders for your physical and mental health.
And who doesn't love the feeling of being all nice and clean? I live for that fresh-out-of-the-shower feeling. It helps me to sleep when I know that skin is free and clear of all of the dirty things that might end up on it during the day.
And a cool shower, or even just your wet hair and damp skin can help cool you off and keep you cool long into the night - helping you sleep more restfully. Trust me.
EAT COMFORT FOOD
I love this tip because everyone enjoys a nice meal or a late-night snack of their favorites. While debated, I believe that eating can often make me sleepier than anything else - food coma is real, folks. No really, it is. Eating causes blood to flow to your stomach to aid in digestion, which actually makes you feel sleepy because your body is focusing much of its attention away from everything else. Therefore, eating before bed, especially comfort food that's warm and can put a nice smile on your face, will help you feel more at ease and help you food coma your way into a long night's sleep. Plus, I don't know about you, but I one hundred percent cannot even dream of sleeping - no pun intended - on an empty stomach or when I'm the least bit hungry. My hunger pains and stomach gurgles are not only enough to drive me insane, but also enough to keep me awake all night - or at least until I get up and find myself something to snack on.
ESTABLISH A NIGHTLY ROUTINE AND STICK TO IT
My final tip is my least original, as I've heard this one mentioned in just about every magazine and article out there, but it's also probably the most accurate. Establishing a nightly routine for yourself, one you can follow each night, helps your mind and body prep for the night ahead. It puts you in the right headspace and helps your mind start to focus on shutting off and getting some sleep. Also, it helps you feel more ready for bed. No one feels ready for bed before their makeup is washed off, teeth are brushed, pills are taken, etc. That nagging feeling of forgetting something or leaving something so important un-done will keep your mind active and annoyed until you satisfy it. So, you might as well head to bed a few minutes early each night and take care of the things that make you feel ready to end your day on a good note, and hopefully, wake up on a better one.
That's it. Those are the things that I do on a regular basis to help my sleepless mind and body get more rest. Some are a nightly thing, while others are once a week or as needed, but all of them have aided me in getting my sleep schedule more under control and given me a little bit more of my energy and stamina back, in the long run.
I hope one or more of these are things that can help some of you get more rest. For now, I need some rest myself. How appropriate (or perhaps ironic) it seems that I'm up late writing a post about getting more sleep. I'm going to go take some of my own advice; I hope you will, too.
Sweet dreams, friends.