If you have trouble sleeping at night, you likely need some new additions to your nightly routine. Maybe you don’t even have a nightly routine, and you want to start one. Getting into a certain pattern at night is good because you will keep up with the healthy habits and your body will know it’s time to sleep once it is used to it. For example, you may brush your teeth and go to bed in no real routine, only to find yourself staring up at your ceiling for hours wondering when you are going to fall asleep. If this sounds like you, try some of these additions to your nightly routine to help you get and stay asleep with ease.
1. Relaxing Tea
I find this the most effective out of all the additions to your nightly routine. Some brands sell effective herbal tea blends designed for sleep, such as Nighty Night by Traditional Medicinals or Bedtime by Yogi. I think both taste excellent and work like a charm. Plus, just the act of sipping a mug of cozy tea before you go to bed is calming and makes for a healthy routine. Make sure you don’t drink a tea with caffeine though; that may have the opposite effect and keep you awake. I also love decaf peppermint tea because it is naturally caffeine-free and soothes any digestive issues that may be keeping you awake.
2. Yoga and Stretching
There are certain yoga poses that are great for better sleep. However, light stretching will also work and be very beneficial to you. As a general rule, you don’t want to do any stimulating yoga poses that work too many muscles (such as plank) so that you don’t get a burst of energy that will keep you up later. Poses like child’s pose, downward facing dog, forward bends, pigeon, butterfly, and of course savasana are all good, relaxing poses. Doing these poses properly while breathing deeply will relax your entire body, preparing it to sleep well. If you are having a stressful night when your mind is buzzing and thoughts are keeping you awake, you need to try this. Trust me, it works!
3. Warm Bubble Baths
Nothing is more relaxing than a warm, soothing bubble bath before bed. Okay, so the bubble part isn’t completely necessary (but I think it is). Taking a shower can be relaxing as well, but I find it too stimulating before I go to bed. That’s why a bubble bath is a great idea, and I like the brand Babo Botanicals for calming bubble bath soap. Adding ground oatmeal and a few drops of essential oils like lavender to a bath can also add skin-softening and additional calming properties. Clary sage is also a good essential oil to use because it is specifically beneficial for not being able to sleep. If you have a warm towel waiting, and you put on some cozy pajamas and slippers, you will be relaxed and good to go!
4. Essential Oil Diffuser
If you still decide to take your shower, you can still get the sleep benefits of essential oils. A diffuser is a device that uses water and essential oils to infuse them into the air. They make great, all natural air-fresheners and there are so many essential oil options that you can diffuse one that suits your mood. Good oils for sleep are lavender and clary sage, as I said above, but you should use some oils with caution. Although peppermint can be soothing and is good to diffuse for stuffy noses, the oil is very strong. It may be too stimulating to diffuse before bed, so diffuse carefully. They only cost about one hundred dollars, depending on where you buy them from. You can find them online, or sometimes at your local health food store.
5. Calming Snacks
Have you ever heard that dieting rule to not eat after a certain time of day or else you will gain weight? I can tell you that it isn’t true, because I certainly don’t gain weight when I eat after a certain time. If you are hungry, you should eat; it’s that simple! Don’t starve yourself and sit awake with your stomach growling just because of a silly rule someone created that doesn’t take your own body into consideration. That said, letting your body have a break from eating before bed is easier on your digestion. Eating a light snack is a beneficial thing to do because you won’t be up with your stomach growling or weighed down with digestive issues. Snacks good for increasing the sleep hormone melatonin include tart cherries, nuts (I like raw cashews), oatmeal, bananas, apples, and pineapple. Popcorn is a good, light snack that increases serotonin levels.
6. Calcium and Magnesium
Calcium and magnesium supplements are great additions to your overall health, but timing is important. It is a good idea to take them right before you go to bed because they are beneficial to sleep when combined. If you have ever woken up in the middle of the night, only to find you can’t go back to sleep, you may have a calcium or magnesium (or both) deficiency. Calcium helps your body in the conversion of tryptophan to melatonin. Chronic insomnia has been proven to go away when magnesium levels are normal. Even if you are just looking for a deeper sleep like I was, these supplements are very helpful! Note: before taking any supplements, speak with your doctor first. I am just sharing what has helped me get better sleep!
Reading before bed is a great ritual to get into. If you like books like I do, that’s great and you will look forward to this relaxing time at the end of the day. If you don’t like books, I’m sure trying to read one will get you to go to sleep! In all seriousness, doing any non-stimulating activity one hour before bed that doesn’t involve electronics is beneficial. That is because electronics (even your alarm clock!) have been shown to disrupt your melatonin rhythms that help you get a deep, restful sleep. You may be thinking you are fine using your electronics, but if you aren’t waking up refreshed and you are tired all the time, it’s something to consider. Other good activities include writing, crossword puzzles, regular puzzles, board games, cards, stargazing, or doing any of the other routine additions I’ve already mentioned.
Although I have no problem falling asleep now (in fact, I fall asleep within 5 minutes of hitting the pillow!), I struggle with getting restful sleep at times. That is, I wake up feeling tired the entire next day. However, all of these things help me feel refreshed and calm when I wake up, which leads to a better day for me. What helps you get a better night’s sleep?