Since early January, I’ve had a really hard time sleeping. A combination of emotional (stress, boy stuff, worrying about my grandmother) and physical (jet lag, + my neck was a mess for a good month) issues were adding up and making it really, really hard to fall asleep at night… and even harder to stay asleep. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a bad sleeper (I have a really hard time shutting off and have ruminating thoughts). I’ve been working really hard at getting a good night’s sleep (it sounds funny to say that, but sleep is actually something I have to work at), and thought I’d share what’s working for me… but I’d also really love for you to share any sleep secrets you may have in the comments!! (Also, on another note, if you want to sleep, don’t get a cat. Mine has been a terror, lately… 2am seems to be when he hits his stride and really gets after it with his sprints and crazy antics. I notice I always sleep better when I travel, without that little monster. Love him dearly, but he’s actually semi-insane!)
ONE // Create a Bedtime Ritual Every night before bedtime, I try to do something really nice for myself, making getting ready for bed a pampering, soothing ritual that I look forward to. I’ll wash my face, apply serum + moisturizer as well as a thick layer of hand + foot cream, and then tuck myself in. Admittedly, my favorite thing is to watch a show before bed as it lets me really turn off, but I find that when I read, I always sleep better. I’ve set a rule where I can watch TV before bed two nights a week, but the rest of the time I read a book.
TWO // Aromatherapy I bought one of those aromatherapy diffusers at Muji and will add a few drops of lavender oil to it before bedtime. I’m also a massive fan of This Works‘ line of sleep products. The bath oil is incredible. It was expensive but I splurged on it after reading about it here, when Kim called it “as effective as Ambien.” If I can, I’ll take a quick bath before bedtime, which always leaves me feeling ultra-relaxed and tired… otherwise I’ll rub a few drops on my pulse points + feet. I only use a tiny amount, so the bottle has lasted me a very long time so far. (I bought it two years ago and it’s still halfway full.) The pillow spray is also really effective. Sometimes I find myself distracted by how good it smells, but mostly, (as the name would have you believe), it works. I’ll force myself to be still, breathe deeply, and usually within 5-10 minutes I have fallen asleep.
THREE // A Special Pillow. I visited one of my college besties (Jill) a few months ago and she had bought this pillow and let me try it out. I loved it so much that I got one too, and I’m completely in love with it. It’s made from memory foam that self-adjusts and has a silky pillowcase that keeps your hair from getting messy (I swear it also helps my blowout to last longer!) but the biggest thing it did was help out with my neck. I am a side sleeper and falling asleep with my back and neck properly aligned makes a really big difference. My back and shoulders are almost back to normal and this helped me to get there. I’ve since connected with the Night Pillow team and through the end of March, you can get 20% off with code THESTRIPE20.
FOUR // Foam Rolling and Stretching Before Bed. I love my foam roller and try to make that a part of my bedtime routine (my IT band gets especially tight from all that running), but I also have two tennis balls inside of a sock that I lay on before bedtime to help release some of the tension in my shoulders and neck. Something about that, along with a quick stretch, helps to put my mind at ease and ready me for sleep.
FIVE // Acupuncture is amazing. I used to go really regularly (every week) two day jobs ago when I had really bad anxiety. It’s truly amazing how everything in the body is so connected. I went back last week and have been sleeping so much better ever since. I am not sure what she did, but we worked on sleep specifically and it worked (it worked so well that I immediately fell asleep with the needles still in). I’m considering going regularly again as the short treatment I had was so effective (she also helped with a lot of the tension in my neck and shoulders).
SIX // Wearing a Sleep Mask really helps. I find that when I have complete, total darkness, I sleep so much better. My favorite sleep masks are from Perpetual Shade. They are nice and oversized, super soft, and block all the light out. Bonus points for the fact that they’re also really cute! They make an amazing gift, especially for that friend who is always on the go.
SEVEN// Charging My Phone “Downstairs” aka away from my bed helps a lot. I talked about that in this post but I have a very bad tendency of reaching for the phone when I can’t sleep. It always seems like a good idea, but then that bright light makes it even harder to fall back asleep!
EIGHT // Embracing It… When all else fails I’ve learned to just go with it and not fight my body’s desire to be awake. If it’s really bad, it’s better to just go with it than lay there, stressing out and trying to fall asleep. I was putting TV on (which always ends badly, I’ll put a show on at 3am and be up til 6 or 7am still watching!) but when I saw an acupuncturist (see above), she had some interesting advice. She told me that when I wake up at 4am, to just embrace it and do something creative. So I’ve been trying that… I keep a journal and will just write and/or brainstorm/make lists when I can’t sleep. I ultimately end up exhausting my brain and falling back asleep.
NINE // Lay off the booze. I obviously hate one as wine is my favorite, but I notice I sleep so much better when I don’t drink. It’s always those nights where I have three or four glasses of wine that I end up waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep.
Your turn, now… go!