The biggest problem I’ve dealt with as an adult doesn’t have anything to do with parenting, marriage, or even money. It has to do with sleep.
Specifically the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Anyone who has ever experienced any type of sleep disturbance or sleep disorder knows how incredibly frustrating this can be. It can kinda make you a little insane.
I know many people would agree with me when I say I need all the sleep I can possibly get to make it through the day and tackle my daily to-do list. When I don’t get a good night’s sleep it can feel as though I’m already defeated before the day even begins.
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The Importance of Sleep
It can be very difficult as a mother to create a happy home when you’ve only gotten 3-4 hours of sleep. The lack of sleep can make you grumpy and irritable. It can be hard to focus and make decisions. The simplest tasks become overwhelming.
Do not under estimate the power of sleep. It is essential to our mental and physical well-being. The lack of good quality sleep can be detrimental to our health.
Recent statistics show over 9 million Americans take sleeping pills to help them sleep. So I know I’m not the only one with this problem. I personally try to avoid prescription drugs as much as possible and opt for a more natural approach. I am not a doctor or a sleep expert but I have researched and tried many different natural methods to improve my sleep and below are my top ten tips to help you sleep better.
10 Tips to sleep better
1 | Drink Herbal Tea
Drink a cup (or two) of caffeine free herbal tea about an hour or so before bedtime. There are many teas available specifically labeled for sleep. You want to make sure whatever you’re drinking has either chamomile, passionflower, or valerian root in it or better yet all three. I’ve tried dozens of tea’s specifically for sleep. You can check out my five favorite sleep teas here.
2 | Take a Magnesium Supplement
Magnesium is amazing and unfortunately, some recent studies suggest that over 90% of us are deficient. Magnesium is well known for it’s ability to relieve insomnia. It can help your muscles relax and help you get that sleepy feeling. There are a variety of magnesium supplements to choose from.
Drinking sole water is a great way to get the magnesium your body needs. Calm Magnesium Anti-Stress Drink is another great option for supplementing magnesium. There are several different flavors to choose from. My favorite is raspberry lemonade. You can also take magnesium in pill form or just sprinkle some epsom salt into your bath water. Your body will absorb the magnesium through your skin.
If you would like to learn more about the amazing benefits of magnesium I suggest you read this book!
3 | Use Essential Oils
Essential oils provide many different health benefits. I love to use them as a sleep aid. Click here to read all about the best essential oils for sleep!
I usually rub a few drops of oil on my wrists before I get in bed or I’ll add some oil to my diffuser which is right beside my bed. And the number one way I use essential oils for sleep is to rub it all over the bottom of my feet and seal it in with a pair of socks. I do this to my children as well. It works great!
4 | Avoid Caffeine & Refined Sugars
This is the hardest one to accept. Believe me, I know. As someone who’s struggled with sleep, I’ve relied heavily on caffeine to get me through my days. Coffee and I have had quite the love affair for quite sometime and I did not and still do not want it to end. But I realized it was a very toxic relationship and it had to end.
I’ve dealt with anxiety most of my life and I realized many years ago caffeine was definitely an anxiety trigger. So I cut back and I wouldn’t drink caffeine past 12pm. It never occurred to me that the one cup of coffee I would drink at 8am could still have an effect on me at 9pm. There were nights where I would fall asleep and stay asleep without any trouble but I never felt as though I would enter into a deep sleep and I would wake up feeling very unrefreshed. Once I cut back drastically on the caffeine that totally changed. I’m currently drinking about 25mg of caffeine a day which is equivalent to about 1/4 cup of coffee and I’m experiencing the best sleep I’ve had as an adult. I’m hoping to completely eliminate caffeine from my diet soon.
As far as refined sugar goes it can cause a reaction in the body that triggers the “fight or flight” part of the nervous system, causing wakefulness. If I had to choose my most recommended tip on this list this would be it. And yes, I realize it’s the hardest but please give it a try. You need to break the cycle of dependency. We should be getting the energy our bodies need from sleep and natural foods. Not from stimulants.
5 | Workout
Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise everyday. Go on a run, a hike or even just a walk. Studies have shown exercise to positively impact your overall quality of sleep. But beware, exercise can over stimulate the body and interfere with your ability to fall asleep if done to close to bedtime. So be careful. Everybody is different and there is some who don’t have this problem at all. I go to bed around 9pm and I choose not to exercise after 6pm because I tend to get a burst of energy after a good work out.
If you need some workout motivation read this post!
6 | Sleep in Absolute Darkness
Light suppresses the production of melatonin which is the major hormone secreted by the pineal gland that controls sleep and wake cycles. The lights from our TV, our laptops, our phones, even our alarm clocks can all interfere with our melatonin production. Try to eliminate all light from your sleep space and if for some reason you can’t do that use a sleep mask to block out all light. Also a few hours before bedtime reduce your exposure to artificial light as much as you can.
7 | Write Down a To-Do list For The Next Day
One of the biggest reasons I can’t fall asleep sometimes is because I’m thinking and worrying about all the things I need to do the next day. And it’s so silly because it’s the simplest to fix. Keep a pen and paper by your bed so you can write out your to do list for the next day. You can also write in a journal if your consumed with nagging thoughts or ideas. Whatever it is, just get it out of your head and onto paper so you can be at peace and sleep better.
8 | Develop a Night Time Routine
Try to develop a night time routine that is 30 – 60 minutes long to help you wind down and to tell your body it’s time for bed. This can consist of a bath (maybe add Epsom salts for magnesium) reading a book or listening to calming music. Do anything that helps you relax. Personally, I like to drink my tea, apply my essential oils and read a book in dim lighting.
9 | Try the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
This is an amazing and simple breathing technique which you can read about here. On nights where I’m wound up and can’t fall asleep I will do this breathing technique over and over and before I know it it’s morning and I don’t even remember falling asleep. It’s truly that effective.
10 | Stick To a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. I know this can be a difficult one to master but if you can pull it off your going to discover yourself having better sleep quality and having more energy through out your day. A consistent sleep schedule will reinforce a consistent sleep rhythm and helps to remind the brain when to release sleep and wake hormones and when not to.
Update: I wrote this post a few years ago and although I still stand by the tips mentioned in this post I wanted to quickly share a product I’ve been using nightly to help me sleep. It’s called passionflower extract. I just add a few drops to my tea at night and it helps me fall asleep fast and stay asleep. I highly recommend it to anyone who struggles with anxiety related insomnia!
I really hope these tips help you to get better sleep. Please comment below if any of these tips have helped you and also any sleep tips you recommend.
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