The subject of sleep has been coming up a lot in my client sessions recently. Getting enough quality sleep is such a crucial part of healing that I felt compelled to pull together my favorite tricks for a good night’s rest. These are mostly geared towards falling asleep. If you’re having issues staying asleep, or you’re waking up a lot, definitely consult a professional. It could be a endocrine or adrenal issue, sleep apnea, or something else that requires medical attention. If you have a sleep disorder, you can do all the right things and still not sleep well so definitely get some support. To read more about the science of sleep and sleep disorders, check out the National Sleep Foundation.
Try these to get yourself in the mood for sleepy time:
Take chamomile as a tea or tincture. A lot of people assume it’s not enough but don’t knock it ‘til you try it. If one does not do the trick, brew two tea bags at a time and let it steep for 3-5 minutes.
Journal before bed to get all your remaining thoughts from the day out of your mind. It does not have to be long to be effective. You might also keep a gratitude journal, which has been proven to help with falling asleep. In general, keeping a pad of paper or a journal by your bed is useful to write down ideas or to-do list items that come up, or to write about your dreams in the morning. Keeping a dream journal can be very illuminating. (It may be too wooey for you, but if you’re struggling with sometime, ask God, the Universe, the spirits, or whatever you like, for answers in your dreams and notice what comes up!)
Practice yoga nidra. Also known as yogic sleep, yoga nidra is the state between sleeping and waking. Listening to a yoga nidra recording before bed can get you in a state of deep relaxation so it’s easier to transition from a crazy day into sleepy time. As a bonus, it can also help with anxiety and PTSD. There are tons of guided yoga nidra recordings and videos out there but I recommend starting with Insight Timer. It’s a free app with yoga nidra recordings of all different lengths, among other guided meditations, music for meditation, etc. Practicing a few yin or restorative yoga poses can be really nice as well. Here’s a yin for sleep video to get you started.
Stop using electronics one hour before bed. I know it’s hard, especially for the more tech loving folks, but I believe in you. (You might consider moving your Instagram, Tinder, or Facebook time to breakfast. And yes, you should also eat breakfast.) If possible, leave your phone outside your bedroom. If you’re not a doctor, a firefighter, or someone who must have a phone near the bed, get a fun alarm clock. If you Google “fun alarm clocks,” you may be amazed by what’s out there. Get computers and modems out of your room too. Reading is a great way to wind down but save your saucy page-turners for non-bedtime reading so you aren’t tempted to stay up past your bedtime.
Make sure your bedroom is cool, between 60-67 degrees.
Block out noise with a white noise machine, fan, or humidifier. Ear plugs are great but not ideal for daily use.
Block out all light. Blackout curtains are great and eye masks are a good tool for sleeping away from home when you have less control of your surroundings. Ideally you don’t have any electronics in your room but if you have a humidifier or TV or anything that emits any kind of light, put a piece of tape or a sticky note over the light.
Experiment with aromatherapy solutions. Rub vetiver essential oil into your feet. Keep a lavender sachet by your bed. If your nose gets really dry or stuffy at night, put an essential oil diffuser next to your bed so that the vapor rolls over you while you sleep. Fill it with lavender, frankincense, and eucalyptus essential oils. Myrrh, thyme, and oregano oils are good anti-microbials if you’re trying not to get sick, and tea tree oil is supposed to be great for a runny nose. I haven’t tried that one yet!
Establish a calm bedtime routine you love. It doesn’t have to be long.
Quit caffeine. More on that in this other post.
Are there other things that have really helped you? Please share in the comments below!
I struggled with sleep for years and tried a lot of different sleep aids before I realized that I was doing myself a lot of harm and looked for other solutions. I took muscle relaxers, cannabis, and some prescription drugs before I turned to over-the-counter supplements. As I learned, those aren’t always good either. After a couple years of taking melatonin every night a practitioner told me that in doing that your body can stop making it’s own melatonin. Oops! Then a rheumatologist with a fancy non-prescription drug database helped me see that I might have been aggravating a mild heart condition by taking L-theanine every night. I live and learn. Today I just take a tincture with valerian, passion flower, wild lettuce and indian pipe. It doesn’t knock me out but it does make me calm and supports everything else I’m doing to get in the sleepy zone. If you feel like you need sleep aids, don’t make the same mistake I did. Consult a professional, whether it’s an MD, a holistic practitioner or an herbalist to find something that’s safe for your body given the conditions it is working with.
Good luck out there and sleep well!