Do you have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep? Does it take you a long time to fall asleep? Do you frequently wake in the middle of the night? Do you wake up tired and just want to crawl back in bed?
I am just a *WEE* bit obsessed about sleep. It started in my first year of college. Living with my 2 roommates in a 10×10 foot space I realized that I had a hard time sleeping in the same room with others. Especially when those others were a bit noisy coming home from a party at 2 am or clanged about in the morning before heading out to their 8 am class. Back then my solution was to pop a pair of earplugs in and hope for the best. Usually that worked well enough.
Then when I was in my early 30’s I had 2 babies within 15 months. Between pregnancy and those early days of feedings I was up in the middle of the night for what felt like several years. I learned how lack of sleep affected me: I was grumpy, always hungry and felt like I was on the verge of falling apart most days. I figured out how important afternoon naps were for me. I also did a lot of experiments with what aids and tricks would help me get the most restful sleep.
Here are 5 things I recommend you do if you are trying to sleep better:
- Walk outside every day for 15-20 minutes. Walking is underrated as an exercise and most people don’t realize that it leads to better sleep.
- Sleep in a completely dark room. Do whatever you have to make your room totally dark: remove electronics, use blackout curtains, etc. Another way to insure that light doesn’t disturb your sleep is to use an eye mask. I have tried many of them but my favorite is a very simple inexpensive mask by EcoTools. It’s the only one I’ve used that I can’t feel on my face. It’s made of bamboo (easily washable!) and is very lightweight.
- Calm your mind before bed. The hour or two before bedtime is NOT the time to start a new project or finish up that last bit of work. Limit screen time as much as possible so your brain gets the signal that it’s time to start winding down. Take a warm shower and maybe give yourself a brief foot massage. Read some light fiction. Light stretching also helps to unwind.
- Over the years I’ve tried quite a few herbs that help with sleep. My longtime favorite is Passionflower. It helps me fall asleep, stay asleep and doesn’t cause grogginess in the morning. There are several good brands out there but my favorite is Gaia Herbs. I take 1 of the 700 mg. caplets every night about an hour before bed.
- The majority of us are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is a super-important mineral that is essential for good health. It plays an important role in hydration, muscle relaxation, energy production and, crucially, the deactivation of adrenaline. There are different ways to increase your magnesium. One way is through supplementation – my favorite magnesium supplement is Natural Calm. Taking baths in Epsom salts also increases magnesium in your body. Additionally you can try magnesium oil on your feet and legs. An excellent brand is Ancient Minerals. Magnesium also helps with constipation and, if you take more than you can handle, can cause loose stools. So it’s better to start off conservatively with how much magnesium you take and slowly increase the dosage.
So there you go – 5 great tips! Try them out and I can almost guarantee you will be sleeping better quickly.