I am a chronically bad sleeper. Even as a child I can remember looking at my sister beside me in bed and being so jealous that she could fall right to sleep, stay asleep, and for the most part not have bad dreams. As I’ve gotten older my sleep has not improved. I talk in my sleep, I have trouble going to sleep, I frequently wake up throughout the night, and I still occasionally have night terror (trust me these a blast for everyone involved, especially because my yelling usually wakes up the whole house.)
We all know that a good nights sleep is really important for our mental and physical health. In fact sleep deprivation can have such extreme effects that it has been used as a form of torture. Yikes! Lot’s of problems can arise if your not getting your rest. Weight gain, increased blood pressure, hallucinations, heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, stroke, diabetes, depression, anxiety, lowered mental acuity, and a compromised immune system are just a sampling of the complications that can be a result of sleep deprivation. I know, I’m just a ball of fun today folks;)
In talking with a friend a few weeks back I began pondering this extremely common problem. After giving it some thought I decided to do a little research and then use myself as a human guinea pig to test out some of the suggested sleep remedies. I’m on sever medications and I’ve always been leery of sleeping pills so everything I tried was completely natural. The following is the advice that I’ve taken and found to be helpful.
P.S. This is probably the first time I’ve hoped my writing puts someone to sleep;)
Foods to Try Before Bed:
- Tea with honey: Look for a tea that has chamomile, lavender, spearmint, lemongrass, valerian root, ginger, or sage. These ingredients and honey are all natural sleep aids. I really like Sleepytime Extra tea, you can find it at your grocery store or on Amazon.
- Whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana. Whole grains, peanut butter, and bannans are all foods that are suppose to aid sleep.
- Warm milk with honey. This one isn’t for everyone because I know some people hate the taste of warm milk. I love it, my mom would make this for my sister and I when we were kids so it always makes me nostalgic. Dairy products in general are good for sleep.
- Drinking a cup of cherry juice before bed. I went to the Natural Grocers to get mine but your local grocery store might have it as well.
- Greek yogurt with honey and nuts. Almonds, Brazil nuts, and walnuts are all supposed to be good for sleep.
- A cup of cottage cheese.
- Cheese and whole grain crackers.
- Scrambled eggs and cheese.
- Salmon is so good for you, not just for sleep but for lots of other health reasons. It’s got lots of good Omega 3’s and it’s also a recommended food for people who struggle with depression.
- Dates stuffed with cream cheese.
- Spinach salad with honey vinaigrette. Leafy greens are also supposed to help you sleep, topping it off with some honey is just a nice added sleep aid kick.
Supplements to Try:
- Valerian Root
- Passion Flower
Tips and Tricks:
- Try using a fan, the white noise will help block out other sounds that might wake you up throughout the night.
- Use essentials oils (Lavender, Cedarwood, Wild Orange, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Marjoran, Thyme, Juniper Berry, Vetiver, Spearmint, Peppermint, and Chamomile are all soothing). Spray on your bedding, use in a diffuser, dab on your eye mask or rub on your temples.
- Sleep with earplugs and/or an eye mask. I’ve included a link to my favorite eye mask below under products to try. I’ve tried lots of masks but this was my favorite because it’s filled with lavender, super comfortable, and the masks are created by an independent business owner. What more could you want!
- Use separate blankets if you share a bed. This is especially helpful if you sleep with a blanket hog or someone who is a restless sleeper.
- Make your bed every morning. I once read that we perceive a made bed as 70% of a rooms cleanliness. This quick and easy step can be a real stress reducer at the end of the day.
- Make sure that your house isn’t to hot or too cold (65-72 degrees is recommended).
- Journaling or coloring before bed, these are both relaxing activities that don’t involve the blue glow of technology. You are really supposed to avoid looking at electronics right before bed but I’ll admit I like to brows Pinterest, I find it really relaxing, so do whatever works best for you!
- Avoid processed sugars right before bed.
- Limit your caffeine intake, especially later in the day. I try to avoid all caffeine after 12 pm. It’s not very fun but it does help me sleep better.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends. Get your body used to a set routine.
- Make sure you’re getting enough exercise. I’m not recommending you become an Olympian but even just taking a 30 minute walk can be really good for your mental health and help your body feel ready to rest at bedtime.
- Meditate, this is something I find super helpful. I have two meditation apps that I really like and I’ve talked about them before but I’ll post the links again. On a really good day I use the apps for five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night, I notice a big difference in my anxiety levels and my ability to fall asleep.
- Try taking an Epsom salt bath with essential oils. I take maybe one bath a year, I just never seem to have time for it so sometimes I just sprinkle essential oils on the floor of the tub when I take a shower, the steam and the smell of the oils is very comforting.
- While you are laying in bed right before your are ready to go to sleep try the 4-7-8 breathing method:
- Close your mouth and breath in through your nose while counting to four.
- Then hold your breath while counting to seven.
- Next breath out through you mouth while counting to eight.
- Repeat this breathing process four times.
- Have an evening routine that prepares your body and mind for bed.
- Brush your hair and teeth
- Wash your face
- Take your supplements
- Rub essential oil cream on your wrists and temples
- Take five minutes to meditate
- Turn off all your lights
- Get in bed
- Put on your eye mask on and your ear plugs in
- Take deep breaths
- Fall asleep
Products to Try: