Ideally, we should get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. This gives your body time to recharge and reap the benefits of a full night’s rest. However, many people struggle with sleep. If you’re struggling with falling asleep or staying asleep, try incorporating some of these tips into your routine.
Track Your Sleep
Use a sleep journal or device, such as a Fitbit, to track your sleep. Tracking your sleep helps you get an objective view of how much sleep you are actually getting. If you’re using a device to track your sleep, it will show you how long it took to fall asleep, the amount of time you spent in your deepest sleep, and if you had interrupted (tossing and turning) sleep. If one of your nights was more restless than others, you can reflect on the day before to see if something offset your night (i.e. Did you have caffeine late in the day? Did you exercise that day? Did you have an alcoholic drink right before bed?) Use this knowledge to change something in the day that may have attributed to a more restless night.
Make sure your room is dark. When light is absent, your body instinctively knows that it is time to rest. Artificial light can make your brain feel like it needs to be “awake” therefore making sleep harder to come by. If you have an outdoor light that shines in your window, blackout curtains work well to keep the light out.
Turn Off Your Devices
Light from screens can also keep your brain stimulated. Turn off the phone, TV, and computer ideally 60 minutes (or more) before bedtime.
Cool Down Your Body Temperature
Take a bath with Epson salts (2 cups Epson salt, 1 cup baking soda, and (optional) 8-10 drops of lavender essential oil) or shower to cool down your body temperature.
Lavender is known to help calm your brain and nervous system which can relieve anxiety and increase relaxation. There are many ways to use lavender in a bedtime routine. Read my blog post on lavender and sleep here.
Drink Herbal Tea to Relax
Herbal tea has been used for centuries as a natural sleep remedy. These teas are the most widely used to help aid in sleep: chamomile, valerian root, lavender, lemon balm, passionflower, and magnolia bark. Check your local grocery for tea brands that also make a “night time” tea which will probably contain some or all of the above ingredients.
Consult with your healthcare provider about supplementation such as melatonin or CBD oil.
Choose a Bedtime and Stick to It
Whether it is 8pm or 10pm, pick a time that is your time to go to bed and stick to it (or as close as you can). This sets your body into a routine that will help set your circadian rhythm (your natural, internal process that regulates your sleep-wake cycle).
Try a Sound Machine
White noise, from a sound machine, a fan, or an app on your phone can help people fall asleep and stay asleep because it masks other noises (a door slamming, outside traffic, a spouse snoring/moving) that may stimulate the brain.
Some of these may not work in one night, but keep trying – our bodies do love (and need) sleep. To stay motivated about getting in good night’s rest, read about the benefits of sleep here.