Sweet Dreams – Tips for getting a good night’s sleep
Wouldn’t life be perfect if we could all fall asleep exactly when we want to? When nighttime rolls around you simply jump into bed, turn-off the lights and snooze away while dreaming of macaroni and cheese buffets or a room full of pug puppies for hours. Instead, if you are anything like me, the thought of getting a good night’s sleep weighs on you, especially when starting a new week or you have a lot on your mind. Pretty much every Sunday afternoon the Sunday Scaries and my persistence at trying to wind-down battle it out. It’s a toss up on who wins each time.
Sundays can be the hardest, but winding down in the evening can be hard no matter what day it is. Just the thought alone of getting a good night’s sleep can be very stressful, and there are many things I’d pass on these days to get it! Getting 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal for me to ensure that I wake up feeling my best and ready to take on the day. This amount varies from person to person, and it is whatever your body needs. Over the years, I’ve researched and tried so many different things, this includes a lemon spray in your mouth before bed which was very counterproductive to brushing my teeth! Alas, the tart lemon taste did no good for me, but I have started to develop a few tried-and-true routines that help me relax. Here are a few tips that might help you too:
Use Night Shift on Your Phone or Tablet
Skimming the web, Pinterest, and reading on the kindle app are all things I do nightly on my iPad. If these things help you to relax at night (like me), turn on your night shift mode!
This lets you dim the light on your device during certain time periods. Go to your setting and then display to ensure you have this programmed to dim the light during night hours. The light will then soften on your screen with a more natural glow so it is not as harsh on your eyes.Tricks of the trade people!
Sipping a cup of Sleepytime tea at night can force you to sit still and relax, signaling to your body that it is time to wind-down from the day. It’s a habit that I’ve started, and now look forward to that nightly cup to relax. I wasn’t crazy about the chamomile taste of the tea at first, but it grew on me and have come to crave it at night! The classic Sleepytime tea includes a blend of chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn and rosebuds. It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich and helps to regulate sleep. If that flavor isn’t for you try the mint or honey flavors. Pinkies up ladies!
Light a candle
Like walking on the beach, entering a spa, or baking bread, aromas can trigger different thoughts in your head, and help you relax and focus. Eucalyptus candles are a personal favorite in the evening because they remind me of a spa and relaxing. Lighting of a candle forces me to take a minute, bring in the scent, and let my mind wander. Go for whatever scent brings you ease, light the candle in your bath, bedroom, living room, or wherever, and breathe in the zen. Just don’t forget to blow the candle out before falling asleep!
A few of my favorite candles:
The average person has around 50,000 thoughts per day (as mentioned in the Huffington Post), that’s a lot of thoughts! But it honestly doesn’t surprise me. I find myself rehashing the day, thinking of things I wish I would have done or said, worrying about what’s ahead, making future plans, the list could go on and on. It was definitely enough to keep me up at night, so I started keeping a notepad near by bed to write down any random thoughts (mostly to-dos) that popped up in order to not forget them the next day. This eventually turned into journaling in an effort to try to find some direction in life, and some nights I would write until literally falling asleep. It’s a peaceful sleep.
So, all those thoughts in your head? Write them down! It helps to clear your mind, and if you are looking for an answer to something, it might be found right there in your writing. Often times, I’ll write not even trying to find an “answer” or meaning in a situation, but after writing it out, a meaning becomes clear, and I can better reflect on the day. You’ll probably be surprised at how many GOOD things happen versus bad, and find a way to appreciate even the smallest things. You can write out any worries, to-do lists, future plans, etc. for tomorrow so you don’t spend hours tossing and turning over them while lying in bed. Save that time for some zzzzzs.
If you do not own a $10 Amazon foam roller, I highly suggest you invest now and roll out those stresses from your day. The first time you roll, it might feel a little painful, but that is your muscles being stretched and knots worked out. Foam rolling can ease stress both emotional and physical on the body, helps with circulation, and eases tension. The best part is you can do it by yourself and still hit all your tight/ sore spots. After a few times you will be hooked! Just like a massage can help you relax, so can foam rolling and your wallet will thank you. I like to think of it as indulgence on a dime. Your muscles will feel so good after and you’ll just want to melt right into bed!
I used to think meditating was not for me, I tried a few times, not taking it very seriously and just didn’t see the benefit. Then one night when I really needed to clear my head and de-stress so I decided to give it a try again, and take it seriously (my mental sanity was depending on it!) So, I turned on some meditation music for 10-15 minutes and thought of nothing but my breathing. Result? IT WAS AWESOME. My heart slowed down, mind was cleared, and I was more relaxed about the situation. Sometimes you just need to take a few minutes to breathe. It has also been said that meditation helps you get along with people better by increasing self-awareness and perspective (hmmm, maybe this will come in handy during that 2-hour unnecessary work meeting.) I highly recommend this during a stressful time, but also do it regularly to ease your mind. If it is your first time, try starting with just a few minutes of zen time to yourself, and slowly increase from there.
Those are my 6 tips, and I hope it brings you to peacefully dream about that macaroni and cheese buffet, puppy hugs, and well, nothing at all!
What other nighttime activities help you get in a relaxed mindset?