Do you sleep well? Having been an insomniac for years, I am sleeping well now. Why? What changed? Let me share.
Several years ago, I read Dr Andrew Weil’s book, Healthy Sleep, and learned that my brain is not a computer that I can simply power down at will. It takes attention to a bedtime routine, time, temperature, environment, and consistency to “shut ‘er down.”
I was at first quite skeptical. However, trying to remain teachable, I gave it a try. I now sleep like a baby. It wasn’t a quick fix, but after some time (about a 2 week commitment), I am a true believer.
My top three suggestions are daily exercise (a 25 min walk) before 6pm and no screen watching one hour before bed. It is a brain stimulant. I also meditate (love the free Insight Timer app) or read briefly, in low light, nightly during the hour before my established bedtime, and I use the “brain dump, ” in which l write out today’s problems and proposed actions to take for solution tomorrow. My phone sets to silent one hour before sleep. No calls, period. See below for more tips that changed my sleep for the better, ’cause if Momma ain’t happy…you know the deal!
What are your “go-to” rituals for healthy sleep? Please share!
Andrew Weil’s suggestions:
The following are some of the best possible insomnia remedies:
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine. This is one of the most important factors in insomnia treatment and maintaining good sleeping habits. Routines may include taking a warm bath or a relaxing walk in the evening, or practicing meditation/relaxation exercises as part of your regular nighttime routine.
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time each morning. This includes weekends.
- Get plenty of exercise during the day. Studies have shown that people who are physically active sleep better than those who are sedentary. The more energy you expend during the day, the sleepier you will feel at bedtime. Just be sure not to engage in vigorous exercise too close to bedtime as that can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine,particularly in the evening.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine and limit alcohol. Both, even when consumed early in the day, can affect sleep and inhibit insomnia treatment.
- Use your bed only for sleeping and sex. Don’t use it to do work or watch TV.
- Avoid large meals late in the evening.
- If you can’t fall asleep within half an hour of going to bed, get up and read or do something calming until you feel sleepy.
- Learn and use a relaxation technique regularly.Breathing exercises, meditation and yoga are not insomnia cures, but do lead to a state conducive to sleep.
- Use “white noise” devices to block out surrounding environmental noise.
- Take a hot bath before bedtime.Try a few drops of relaxing oil oflavender in the water.
- Short naps are good. Try to get into the habit of napping for insomnia treatment: ten to twenty minutes in the afternoon, preferably lying down in a darkened room.
- Spend some time outdoors as often as you can to get exposure to bright, natural light. If you are concerned about harmful effects of solar radiation, do it before ten in the morning or after three in the afternoon or use sunscreen.
- Try to give yourself some time – up to an hour – in dim light before you go to sleep at night. Lower the lighting in your house and bedroom and if other members of the household object, wear sunglasses.
- The two best natural sleep aids are valerian and melatonin. Valerian is a sedative herb, used for centuries. You can find standardized extracts in health food stores and pharmacies. Take one to two capsules a half hour before bedtime. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the wake/sleep cycle and other daily biorhythms. Try sublingual tablets (to be placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve); take 2.5 mg at bedtime as an occasional dose, making sure that your bedroom is completely dark. A much lower dose, 0.25 to 0.3 mg, is more effective for regular use.
- Don’t obsess about not sleeping.Not surprisingly, studies have shown that individuals who worry about falling asleep have greater trouble dropping off. It may help to remind yourself that while sleeplessness is troublesome, it isn’t life-threatening and there are insomnia remedies.
Some additional suggestions reblogged are:
Having a set bedtime routine will allow you to go to bed with a clearer head and rest better knowing you’re already set to face the next day.
I know, you may be thinking I’m asking you to add more work and activity to your day when you’re barely able to get to the bed before you crash for the night. I get that. But what I’m suggesting is that you just start by adding maybe one or two things to your routine at night that will help to set you up for a better day tomorrow.
You’re bedtime routine has less to do with an actual list of set activities but rather how you clear your head before it hits your pillow. Sleep issues accompany so many chronic illnesses and the things you do in the last few hours of your day will impact the rest you get at night.
Start out by picking one or two of the following examples. Try it out for a few nights and see if it has a positive impact on your sleep and mental relaxation!
Here are a few examples of things you can include in your bedtime routine:
- Set time aside to read. Reading allows your brain to focus on a singular activity. Don’t use this time to catch up on social media – experts say that will only get your brain rushing through a lot of thoughts and stirring emotions that can actually hinder your ability to fall asleep. Instead, choose a devotional or fiction novel.
- Listen to a podcast or relaxing music. If you’re not able to focus on written words, try directing your thoughts toward a podcast or gentle music. Put in the earphones, close your eyes and allow your body to relax.
- Express gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal next to your bed and take a moment to find one or two things you’re grateful for. Write them out and take a moment to express your thanks to God for that gift in your life.
- Brain dump. Have a notebook or notepad by your bed and take a few minutes to think about what you need to do tomorrow or what upcoming events you need to plan for. “Dumping” all these thoughts onto paper has a two-fold purpose. First, it allows you to have a clear head as you fall asleep. Second, it serves as your to-do list for the next day. Remember to include your daily non-negotiables.
- Stop working! At least an hour before bed you need to step away from any work you have going on. Housework, work you’ve brought home from your job, etc. Let your brain turn off the hustle and bustle and begin to relax.
- Spend some time with your spouse and kids. When my kids were little I’d sit by their bed at night and ask them what was the best part of their day. Those were precious times! It allowed me to see the day from the eyes of my children and get a glimpse of what was truly important and impactful to them. It’s also a good exercise to do with your spouse. It allows you both to focus your mind on the positives of the day and end on an upbeat note.
- Decide what you’ll have for breakfast and make sure the kitchen is set for the preparation. This may sound like a silly step that adds a lot of work but it will really help you start each day on a good note. Quite a few of our meds and supplements need to be taken with food. Having the kitchen set up so breakfast is easy to prepare can let you get through the first few hours of your day without the stress of cleaning the blender or counter and deciding what you can toss in your belly.
- Take a bubble bath! Giving yourself a moment for pampering will de-stress your body and mind. Toss some Epsom salts or essential oils in the warm water and your now detoxing as well!
- Check tomorrow’s calendar. Whether you keep a bullet journal or day-planner of some sort, take a peak to see if there is something you have going on the next day.
- Set out your clothes. Making sure you have clean clothes that fit whatever is on tomorrow’s agenda will save you the stress and rushing about that happens thirty minutes before you have to leave the house.
- Meditate on a few verses and take time to pray. If you have trouble quieting your mind and focusing on the positive as you fall asleep this step may just be the key.