Sleep. Seriously one of my favorite things in life, and it's not just because I get to share a space with my favorite person in the world. Sleep gives me perspective, it gives me life, it renews energy and I treat it like a sacred ritual. It certainly helps me with my NOT routine (more on that soon) and I credit my sleeping patterns with accelerating my ambition and supporting my health.
But I didn't always sleep so good. For many years I struggled with self-diagnosed short term insomnia, i.e. I would get stressed about this that and the other and then I would NOT sleep. Like, you can find me studying until 5A or knitting on the couch, because I am not sleeping tonight, no Sir E. Bob.
No way to live. So I gave it up. I searched and pushed to find a strategy that worked for me and my life, and the following is how I get great sleep (with my husband in tow):
- NO ELECTRONICS IN THE BEDROOM
Please, stop booing. No phones + no TVs in the bedroom. Every once in a we'll make an exception, but because the general rule exists it never gets out of hand.
- CONSISTENT BEDTIME
This one can get tricky because of weddings and because of life, but on a regular night we aim to shut down by 10P.
- NO CAFFEINE PAST NOON, AND NO COFFEE LIKE EVER
If you don't know by now I am a tea lover. Currently on a matcha tea latte with soy fix, but ordinarily London Fogs are my source of caffeine. I stray from coffee because I don't need it, I get enough sleep to energize me through the day. Plus I feel like I'm already prone to bouts of halitosis and I don't need any coffee bean assists.
- NO EATING AFTER 8P
Eating late can block the production of serotonin, which is a calming neurotransmitter that induces relaxation and sleep. And if you are having issues falling asleep, the last thing you want to do before bed is eat foods high in protein or consume anything that is a diuretic (that means it will make you get up in the middle of the night to pee)(more info here). To avoid all of that I just eat dinner earlier and drink chamomile tea to keep my body from confusing dehydration with hunger. Yes. I do have a degree in biology, thank you for noticing.
- LOTS OF WATER
Dehydration is no joke. Failing to properly hydrate can make you feel tired when you shouldn't be, it can give you headaches, and can result in decreased melatonin (you know the hormone that controls sleep and wake cycles = mondo important). Stop scoffing at the '8 glasses of water a day' mantra we all hear but rarely follow, skip the flavored whats its and just drink water. Read more here if you wanna get serious.
- WRITE IT DOWN FOR TOMORROW
You know that feeling like your brain is literally going to explode and words and thoughts are going to come swirling out of your brain screaming at you to get this done, accomplish that, don't forget about, and remember to???
Well I do. And I hate that feeling. When overwhelm and anxiety start to rear their ugly head I take deep breaths - in through the nose, out through the mouth. If I haven't fallen asleep by exhale number 6 then I get up and put pen to paper. I try not to open the computer because of the ever evil blue light... I write as much as I can, take a big stretch (try a little Yoga for Bed) and then tuck myself in.
Honestly practicing mindfulness has helped me to take control over my mind and my thoughts. Those of you who've felt completely hopeless and believed that phrase 'I'm never falling asleep', should know exactly what I mean. Sometimes you feel as though you cannot tame the beating drum of inanity that has taken over your mind space. Meditation combined with binaural beats has practically solved my problem.
I suggest beginning with some Sam Harris and checking out the YouTube channel NuMeditationMusic. When insomnia tries to take hold of my sleepy eyes, I play binaural beats. Literally works like a charm, 98% of the time. I put this 9 hour video on the iPad, turn the screen brightness all the way down, close the lid and put the volume on low - I have to be lying still in order to hear it. Perfection. Some nights I go without so it's not like I'm dependent on it, but every so often I need that nudge to keep me from slipping into sleeplessness.
- NO EMAIL PAST 9P
Seriously. Not just because of blue light, but because this is just straight up stimulation. Anything that pops into your inbox this late at night can likely wait until the AM without anyone even noticing the difference. Of course your lifestyle may beg for different office hours, but if you aren't sleeping well... should you consider a lifestyle change?
- READ BEFORE BED
Good old fashioned winding down. Reading a novel can really help your mind escape from the daily pressures of life. I'm a fan of anything Jane Austen, but currently on my night stand: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, The Lost City of Z by David Grann, and Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca.
I also use lavender oil and room sprays, they smell good and make me feel cozy, and that can't hurt nobody. For that 2% of the time when I just can't sleep? Well, I get up and blog or google doc or knit. I purge all of the shtuff that's on my brain. I accept that sometimes my body doesn't want to sleep, hello night shift. It happens maybe 4 times a year now, and that is something I can totally live with.
What are your sleeping habits?
Prosperity, Love & Happiness,
Header photo from Unsplash | Nomao Saeki