I’m a sleep diva.
I’m not sure when I started having trouble sleeping, but for as long as I can remember I’ve always woken up in the middle of the night multiple times. I’ve never had trouble falling asleep (unless I was really stressed) – I just don’t sleep well. I sleep lightly, so any noise or light wakes me up.
Naps? Out of the question.
Sleeping on an airplane or in a car? Not without lots of Benadryl.
Sleeping off a hangover? Impossible.
And the worst part is that I’m the type of person that needs sleep. I can’t get away with 6 hours or an occasional all-nighter. I need my rest or else I’m grumpy, eat terribly, and can’t focus.
(trying, and failing, at sleeping in an airport after senior spring break)
So I had to find some things that help me sleep. Developing a night time routine was one of my February goals, because I know that it helps me wind down and sleep better. The good thing is that I now have a little routine that leaves me waking up only occasionally. The bad thing is that I’m definitely now in the sleep diva category.
What’s Really Helping:
1. Melatonin. This is the hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin is usually high at night when you’re sleeping, so taking a supplement can help your body get there. I’ve had phases with this stuff over the years, but recently I’ve been putting one pill under my tongue when I get into bed. It might not be doing a thing, but I’m sleeping better so I’ll stick with it. Placebo effect is just fine with me.
2. Lavender oil. I loved when my yoga teacher in Dallas used this during savasana, so I figured I’d give it a shot. The one I have is actually a Lavender and Tea Tree blend from Whole Foods that says it’s stimulating (?), but usually lavender is known for its calming properties. I put a little on the insides of my wrists and love it!
3. Eye Mask. Yep. I’m a nerd. Since I sleep so lightly, ANYTHING will wake me up. I have to turn my clock over just so I can’t see the light form the numbers, and once the sun rises I’m hopeless. I put this on at night (even though it falls off) and always use it if I’m trying to sleep at all past sunrise. Lifesaver.
4. Noise Machine. Again, total nerd. Sometimes the sound of a fan is enough, but having some white noise really helps me sleep. I don’t do any of the weird rainforest options…just a white blur sort of like when the TV channel goes static. Not sure if it’s blocking out anything else or if it just helps me zone out. I have an app on my phone too for when I travel.
5. Fan. Partially for the noise, partially to keep it cold. I hate being cold except for when I sleep. If it’s too warm I toss and turn all night. I like to bundle up under the covers, so I have to have something cooling the room down.
6. Pillows. I sleep on my side, and put a pillow at my head (obviously) and also in between my knees. Having a pillow in between your knees (or under your knees if you’re a back sleeper) is better for your back and spinal alignment. It also helps prevent any aches and pains in the morning.
(The eye mask my mom bought me when I started college. It was between “Beauty Sleep” and “Leave Me Alone.”
1. I really like to have some tea before bed, either on the couch downstairs or while I’m reading. Something herbal, like Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time tells me it’s time to wind down.
2. I keep lotion by my bed because going to sleep with cracked hands or lips drives me crazy.
3. My retainer. I’m so WEIRD! I’m like one of two 25 year olds that wears their retainer, and I’m to the point where I feel weird without it in.
4. Reading. A magazine or book, sometimes only for five minutes, bores me enough to sleep. Unless it’s a REALLY good book and then I wind up staying up all night. Gotta save those books for other times.
5. Candle. This is not really necessary, but I like lighting a candle while I read. It’s a hippie-zen thing, like the lavender oil.
The Other Parts:
One of the major factors in sleeping well is that I’m at a relatively low-stress period of my life. Not everyone is lucky enough to claim the same, and I won’t be here for long. Between jobs, family, money, school, and more, it’s hard to not be stressed about something, but night-time rituals can help. I’ve also heard that writing in a journal is particularly helpful for racing minds.
Another big part? Getting a handle on my emotional eating. Much of my over-eating was happening at night, so I was trying to sleep with a belly too full of sugary sweets. Add to that the guilt I felt about it, and sleeping was just not going well. Giving myself a few hours to digest before bed has helped, and it means making sure I eat enough at dinner so that I don’t have hunger pangs as I’m trying to drift off.
I’m also trying really hard to avoid technology in bed. Computer is a no-no, though I sometimes use it to video-chat with P before I go to bed. I’ve found that reading on my Nook is okay because I can turn the lights off. The room being dark definitely makes me sleepier than getting into a good book with a bright light next to me.
So those are my sleep helpers! In the past few weeks I’ve either slept through the night (WHOA!) or woken up just once. It has been incredible. If only doing all these stuff before bed each night were acceptable and/or practical on a regular basis.
- What helps you sleep?
- Are you a good sleeper or do you wake up often?