Growing up I really struggled with sleep.
No matter how early I woke up or how jam packed my day was with school and extracurricular activities, come midnight I still struggled to fall asleep. I spent most nights between the ages of 5 and 20 staring at the ceiling, willing myself to fall asleep.
It wasn’t until my junior year of college (seriously!) that I finally got a handle on my life long battle with insomnia. I’m not a sleep doctor or pro by any means, but here are some things that helped me.
Set a bedtime alarm.
Jeremy makes fun of my bedtime alarm all the time, but I swear it works!
I have a silent alarm on my phone set for 10:30PM. It’s a friendly reminder to stop what I’m doing and start getting ready for bed. Do I always obey the alarm? Nah. Sometimes I’m still working (I’m a night owl, after all). But if I’m just sitting on my ass, watching HGTV, it’s the cue to get up and start brushing my teeth.
Read before going to sleep instead of watching tv.
Growing up I had a TV in my room, much to my mother’s annoyance. I’d watch an episode of Scrubs on DVD or Roseanne on Nick at Nite before attempting to fall asleep.
I stopped watching TV in bed for a few reasons:
- the light from the TV was making harder for me to fall asleep afterwards.
- it was SO easy to get sucked into watching one more episode.
I now keep the TV off and read before going to sleep instead. I find it to be a more relaxing ritual and it’s screen-free.
Create a bedtime routine.
On nights when I’m feeling especially fired up or just plain anxious, I do a more drawn out bedtime routine. I’ll start by sipping some sleepy time tea, my current fave is the soothing caramel bedtime tea from Yogi Tea. Whether or not this tea actually promotes sleepiness, I do not know. But I find the simple act of slowing down and sipping hot tea to be super relaxing. Placebo effect or not, it works.
I’ll also rub some lavender essential oil on my wrists. I associate this smell with savasana and relaxation. Again, does this help? I do not know. But it’s a pleasant touch.
Pop a melatonin.
I’m not a doctor by any means. Obviously you should do your own research to see if melatonin is safe for you to take. Melatonin has seriously helped me fight insomnia. Maybe it’s the placebo effect (can you tell I’m super susceptible to placebos…) and I think I’m getting sleepy. Maybe it really does work. Who knows.
Either way, I’ll take a super low dose of melatonin before crawling into bed to read if I’m struggling to fall asleep.
Limit screen time before bed.
I’ll admit this is the part I struggle with the most. Jeremy is in Westchester so we’re usually texting and catching up on the day until one of us goes to bed. I also use my phone as an alarm, which I know is a big no-no.
One thing I’ve done to help with this is activate Night Shift mode on my iPhone. This shifts the colors on your phone to a warmer palette at night instead of the usual blue light.
If all else fails, I focus on my breath
I’ve become obsessed with 4-7-8 breathing. It’s something I’ve been teaching in my yoga classes lately. You breath in for 4 counts, hold the breath in for 7 counts and then exhale over a count of 8. Repeat 3-5 times. I find it to be a simple way to calm the chatter in my brain. It’s also a great tool to use throughout the day. Much needed in anxiety inducing NYC, amiright?
Your turn: What sort of things do you to to help you fall asleep?