In the past 20 or so months, you may have found that the notion of “a good night’s sleep” has radically shifted. Whether you’ve experienced erratic sleep schedules, restlessness, insomnia, or have found yourselves ruminating on things like health anxieties, finances, family, and an ever-mounting to-do list, chances are your sleep could use some improvement as we head into winter.
First, just a quick note that insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. You should always consult your doctor first when it comes to consistent sleeplessness to potentially seek treatment. For some quick tips and tricks, here’s a rundown of some tactics and home remedies for getting a better night’s sleep.
Put down your phone. It’s common knowledge that overexposure to blue light, i.e., smartphone, iPad, laptop screen, etc., can make it hard to fall asleep. Many experts recommend putting your phone to bed an hour or so before you yourself begin bedtime. Of course, that’s easier said than done. TV is great, and whether or not you’re working overtime, underemployed, have a house full of kids, or are living alone, streaming a show, or watching an old movie, while checking out the imdb.com page of said movie can be quite comforting. So, instead of trying to quit a late-night screen habit, why not use it to your advantage? Click on over to YouTube and select a meditation or “sleep sounds” video to help you drift off. I’m a big fan of “gentle night rain.”
For those of us with children in the home, one advantage, when it comes to sleep, is that A. they are exhausting, but more importantly, B. they force you to have a bedtime routine. If you find yourself going to sleep “whenever,” it may be time to structure your nights towards a more definite bedtime and sleep schedule.
Everyone is different, so there is no one routine guaranteed to work for everyone. Some folks may need to get some fresh air with a quick walk or do some stretching to loosen up and relax before bed. Others may prefer a warm shower, a cup of sleepy-time tea, and a good book. While others find that a brief or extensive prayer session puts them in the right frame of mind to fall asleep. And there are those that might utilize all of the above depending on how their day was, the weather, or how restless they feel. And weeknights may be different than weekends. While having a standard bedtime routine is a good place to start, it doesn’t have to be set in stone.
Sometimes it’s not so much about what you do for bedtime, but what you do during the day that can set you up for a good night’s sleep.
Are you getting enough exercise? Are you drinking multiple cups of coffee through the day or having a sugary treat at night? Do you give yourself time to unwind, reflect, pray, wash the day off your face, or connect with others? If you don’t have a means of processing stress and anxiety and/or not getting enough vitamins and water throughout the day, it’s hard for your body to turn off at night.
For me, I light a candle, take a shower, stretch, and give myself a bit of a mini massage with one of my favorite body lotions.
Then my nighttime skincare routine goes into effect, after which I’ll read a book or watch a show by myself and settle in around 11 after prayers. When I wake in the middle of the night, I usually check on my kids, then use a white noise machine and meditate on the ocean to fall back to sleep. But hey, that’s what usually works for me; it doesn’t always if I’m particularly stressed. You have to find your own rhythm.
Again, if you feel you are suffering from insomnia, check in with your doctor. It may be that you’ve tried all sorts of tips and tricks to fall and stay asleep but to no avail. Your doctor may have a treatment plan to get you the rest you need. And not everyone needs the same amount of sleep; if you feel recharged after 7 hours, great! If you need closer to 9, then that’s how your body works.