sleep

My Nightly Routine

IMG_20150207_121815My last post was on how to establish a routine to help insomnia. I talked about how it is important to spend time before bed relaxing and without electronics. To give you some ideas of things you might want to incorporate into your evenings I thought I’d share what I do!

So, I go to bed every night at 11. Pick a time that works for you, ideally you will probably want to be sleeping for about 8 hours though so factor this in. I have also read (though have not seen much research to back this up) that your body releases certain “restorative” hormones only between the hours of 12 and 2 at night and that you have to be asleep by 10 for this to happen. Not sure how much truth there is to that but it’s something to consider.

Here is an example of a typical night for me

Bye bye technology. Around 9:30-10:00 I turn off my laptop and stop using my phone (well, mostly. I turn on my app that blocks out the blue light from it and only use it to text my boyfriend off and on. Don’t judge!

Start by taking sometime to get ready for the next day… I make my lunch sometimes, check to see if have clothes that are clean, and make a to do list. Whatever it is you need to do, do it, and then stop worrying about it. It’s taken care of for now, it will all be there tomorrow to deal with and hey! You’ve got a head start on it!

Drink something warm and relaxing. I love filling my favorite mug up with warm almond milk and adding honey and cinnamon. Holding the warm mug, seeing the steam rise off the top, and smelling the calming scent, is such a great way to unwind. Try a relaxing tea blend or just warm water with lemon, a lot of people find that cherry juice helps them to sleep. Just find something that you can look forward to immersing yourself in and will signal the end of a long day for you.

Do something calming. This could include…

  • reading a book
  • journalling
  • listening to soft music
  • taking time to do some visualizing or deep breathing exercises
  • spending quality time with your spouse or kids
  • taking a bath (with low lights, bubbles, candles, and music)
  • having someone give you a massage
  • giving yourself a manicure, pedicure, or facial
  • working on a hobby or craft
  • whatever it is that you enjoy and find relaxing

Do all of the above if you want! This is free time you get to spend doing things for you. Sometimes this is hard for us to do, to focus on ourselves and not feel guilty about it (or is this just me?), but this is a form of self care and is important to your mental well-being. So it’s okay! Enjoy it and know that it’s benefiting your health at the same time!

Consider taking something to help you sleep. Common natural supplements people use are melatonin and valerian. I found that GABA is helpful for me occasionally.

Finally, get ready for bed. Showers make me sleepy so I take one every night right before bed. I go into the bathroom, brush my teeth, take a hot shower with my lavender scented body wash, get out, dry off, use a moisturizing lotion (again, one with lavender in it), and put on pajamas!

At exactly 11 o’clock, after adding a drop of lavender oil to my pillow and turning on music, I crawl into bed and and after following this routine, am now able to fall asleep within 15 minutes compared to the hours and days I would be awake for before.

What do you do to help you unwind at night? What are your tips and tricks? Thanks for reading (:

All personal photos.

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How to Beat Insomnia

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“Our bodies need rest, but our brains need sleep.”

This is something my chiropractor told me a long time ago. When talking about mental disorders, this seems like a pretty important thing to focus on (brain, mental… you see where I’m going with this?).

Getting a good amount of sleep every night can be extremely helpful in dealing with and getting through depression, anxiety, and well, really anything. It is essential for your overall mental, physical, and emotional health! It is the foundation for all things health related. If you are not sleeping, or not sleeping at the right times, or for the right amount of time, you are going to suffer.

I have been working hard over the last few weeks to establish a good sleeping routine. Doing this has proven to be challenging as I have had insomnia my whole life, but it’s made a big difference in how I feel overall.

This is not an easy schedule. It requires commitment, but if you have tried everything and are still struggling to get enough sleep, this is what you need. Commit to this schedule for two weeks and see how you feel. Then continue. Make it a part of your life and enjoy the benefits of feeling refreshed physically and mentally.

The Rules

  • You must go to bed at the same time every night. Pick a time and stick to it. Even if this means ditching parties with your friends, not getting the dishes done, or not finishing “just one more episode”.
  • You must also get up at the same time everyday, whether or not (this is the hard part) you have slept. I repeat, whether or not you have slept. This is important. Even if you have just fallen asleep an hour before, you have to make yourself get up and you are not allowed to sleep until your bedtime that night. This is the only way you are going to be able to reset your body’s internal clock. Unless you have tried, really tired this, you are not allowed to say that “I’ve tried everything to sleep and I just can’t”. (Especially if you are posting this on Facebook at three in the morning…sorry.)
  • Your room needs to be dark, quiet, and cool. We’re talking pitch black dark. No light shining under your door from the hallway, no digital alarm clocks, block out the street light coming in through the window. Use white noise or calming music without words to drown out any distracting thoughts or sounds. Keep your room temperature between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Stay in bed for eight to nine hours. Do not get up, turn on lights, etc. (The exception to this is if you have to use the bathroom. However, if you are finding yourself waking up for this reason, stop drinking fluids before bed.) We want you eventually sleeping solidly through the night without interruption.
  • Turn off ALL electronics 30-45 minutes before bed. TV, computer, smart phone, all of it. Electronics keep your brain from being able to shut down and transition into sleep. The blue light emitted from them prevents your body from producing melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by your body that helps regulate your sleep and wake patterns.
  • Spend the last hour before going to bed relaxing. Create a routine (check out an example of my nightly routine) that you can follow every night that will signal your body that it’s time to sleep. Take a bath, read a book, drink tea, wash or face, brush your teeth, whatever it is you need and want to to at the end of your day.
  • Consider using a sleeping pill for the first week or so to help you jumpstart this routine. Don’t become dependant on it though, we want you to be able to keep to this schedule without it needing a pill that will cause you to feel groggy in the morning.

Now picture yourself crawling into clean sheets at the same time every night, in a room thats dark and quiet, that maybe smells of calming lavender, and listening to soft music as you drift off to sleep. Then discover yourself waking up each morning feeling more relaxed, refreshed, better about life, and ready to start your day! (We will discuss a helpful morning routine in the future). This is the goal we are striving for.

This is hard. It’s strict. The first few weeks might feel like torture and be sleepless. Eventually, though, your body will adjust itself and you will realize just how important sleep is after experiencing it in the way we need it.

Please let me know if you try this and how it works for you, tell me what helps you to sleep better, and feel free to ask if you have any questions!

photo credit: Insomnia or login to sleep illustration via photopin (license)