Nine Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep.

nine tips for a better night's sleep - the stripe

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!

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Comments

  1. francesca says 3.22.16

    great tips, thanks for sharing!

    xx
    http://www.cherry-mag.com

  2. Jessica Rose says 3.22.16

    Stress really seeps over into every aspect of our lifes doesn’t it. When I get stressed I find it hard to sleep as well. I also sometimes do night shifts which makes it even harder to fall alseep sometimes. I will be looking into all your tips.

    http://bit.ly/1o3SsvM (Vodkaandarose)

  3. Paulina says 3.22.16

    I also use a sleep mask and diffuser (I add lavender oil to it). Sometimes when I really can’t sleep, I do a yoga pose for anxiety and hang out there for 10-15 minutes. It’s called vipariti karani, and you lie on your back and put your legs up the wall. After I’m done, I’ll write down whatever is still on my mind, and sleep like a baby.

    • graceatwood says 3.22.16

      I love this idea! I’m going to have to try it.. thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Jo says 3.22.16

      I LOVE this idea!

  4. Natali says 3.22.16

    2 and 7 have been the “top” changes that I’ve done and have improved my night’s sleep tremendously!

    http://lartoffashion.com

  5. Thuy says 3.22.16

    For me, I started putting my phone on Do Not Disturb and forcing myself to not touch it until the morning.

    I also started covering up the clock on my bedside. I found that if I had trouble sleeping and I looked at the clock in the middle of the night, I would stress myself out knowing I had so little time to get more sleep. So, I cover the clock so I have no idea what time of the night it is!

    http://www.dressupchowdown.com

    • graceatwood says 3.22.16

      that’s a smart idea. I use my phone as an alarm clock (and now it lives away from my bed) so I don’t have a clock… though it’s always jarring the next day as it’s going off loudly and I have to scramble down my ladder!

  6. Andi says 3.22.16

    Sooo happy you mentioned acupuncture! Just gave you a shout out on my acupuncture FB page!

  7. Dena says 3.22.16

    No screens an hour before bed. They’ve done some studies on how the blue light from screens can have a negative impact on REM cycles. Also – melatonin supplements (what darkness naturally produces in our body to trigger sleep) and getting on a sleep schedule. xxxx

  8. Johanna says 3.22.16

    I’ve suffered from bouts of insomnia since my early teenage years. Things get especially bad if I’m not busy and I feel like I’m not doing “enough” to achieve whatever my current goals are (I’m currently seeing a counselor about that..). I try to not look at my phone after 9:30pm, but I’m not very good at it. We took the TV out of our bedroom, which helped a lot. I read every night before bed, which is one of my favorite things to do. Sometimes it takes me longer to get to sleep, but I try to not be so hard on myself about it. I use a great eye mask, and also have a bathroom/face routine that relaxes me as I head to bed.

  9. Annie Reeves says 3.22.16

    Always, always love reading tips on how to get a better night of sleep. I’m definitely guilty of the phone/TV thing – it keeps my mind from darting in a million directions!

  10. Alyssa says 3.22.16

    Would LOVE to know where you get acupuncture done in NYC—been wanting to try it but I can’t find a therapist that is vouched for by someone!

    • graceatwood says 3.22.16

      Hi Alyssa!
      Of course! I used to see Stephen at Axiom Acupuncture and loved him, but it got expensive so I stopped going. He was really great, though! http://www.axiomacupuncture.com

      More recently, I visited Dr. Samuelle Easton and really loved her. I might start seeing her on a more consistent basis. Her email is office@drsamuelleeaston.com

      • Alyssa says 3.22.16

        You rock, will definitely check them both out. Thank you!

  11. Erica says 3.22.16

    Love your tips! For those nights I can’t sleep, I try counting backwards from 300 in sets of 3’s. I read your brain really has to work at it so you stop thinking about all the other thoughts running through your head. Inevitably, I end up messing up somewhere and don’t end at 0 like I should. 🙂 There are some nights I just can’t sleep and nothing works, but this trick has saved me many nights.

    • graceatwood says 3.22.16

      That’s really interesting. I will have to give it a go. Check out Stella’s comment below… the 4-7-8 method also sounds really interesting…

  12. Breanna says 3.22.16

    Thanks for sharing! I’m big on the stretching before bed and reading, not watching a screen. Making my bed a screen off-limits zone has really helped.
    I use the Iluminage skin rejuvenating eye mask from Sephora! Skin care while I sleep? Yes, please!

    • graceatwood says 3.22.16

      LOVE a good sleep mask – going to have to check that one out! (I’m a big fan of Tata Harper’s overnight Moisture Mask, and one from Origins).

  13. Stella C. says 3.22.16

    Hi Grace —

    As a person who also struggles with sleep at times — thank you anxiety! — I’ve tried almost everything to help get me a more restful sleep. The only thing that has consistently worked for me is a breathing method called 4-7-8. You inhale deeply for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 and exhale through your mouth for 8. It’s bizarre and sounds ridiculous, but it works! I think it’s a combination of refocusing your anxiety/stress on the breathing counts and allowing your body to take in and absorb more oxygen, which slows down your heart rate encouraging sleep. Maybe it’ll work for you like it does for me?

    Great tips & post — that pillow sounds amazing.

    XO, Stella
    http://www.theheartsdlite.com

    • graceatwood says 3.22.16

      I’ve never heard of that but it sounds amazing! Thanks for the tip, I will try it out.

  14. Sarah Myers says 3.22.16

    Ugh, needed this… thank you for the tips! That pillow sounds insane!

  15. Jo says 3.22.16

    Hey Grace!

    I LOVED this post! I too have been having difficulty sleeping recently. I have a couple of remedies but I’ll definitely be trying some of your suggestions.

    I downloaded an app a few years ago and it plays different sounds for whatever amount of time you need – rain fall, waves, that kind of thing. It’s delicious. I also downloaded ‘Calm’. It’s a meditation app and it really focuses me when I’m stressed. Mind you, both mean you’ll need some kind of electronic device nearby so it negates charging your phone downstairs! I’ve also started keeping a diary – not detailing my day but more a declaration of what I’m thankful for that day. It is a lovely way of making you find the positive in things and it means happy thoughts before bed.

    Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. I had a trapped nerve in my shoulder at the weekend and sleeping was IMPOSSIBLE! Short of running into a wall to knock me out, I was trying EVERYTHING to get to sleep and forget about the pain!

  16. Meghan Donovan says 3.22.16

    I just started going to accupuncture also and am so glad to have been doing so again! TOTALLY helps calm you. Also agree with your last one. Keeping a food log made me realize how badly I was feeling waking up even having had one glass of wine the night before. I’d have a good first half of the night sleep & a second half that was very restless! Am now limiting myself on the alcohol during the week!

  17. Sara says 3.22.16

    One thing I am doing before going to bed is meditate. It makes me ultra-relaxed, and thus it makes it easier to fall asleep. I often have a lot going on in my mind and I lie awake for hours if I don’t meditate.
    Another thing that I found that helps is the “no-words-visualization”-technique from this Insomnia-guide (http://mikesreviewblog.com/2016/03/15/outsmart-insomnia-review/). An amazing exercise!

  18. Ellen says 3.23.16

    Is there somewhere for acupuncture you recommend in NYC? Have been meaning to go but haven’t done any research!

    • graceatwood says 3.23.16

      Hi Ellen,
      I used to see Stephen at Axiom Acupuncture and loved him, but it got expensive so I stopped going. He was really great, though! http://www.axiomacupuncture.com

      More recently, I visited Dr. Samuelle Easton and really loved her. I might start seeing her on a more consistent basis. Her email is office@drsamuelleeaston

  19. Liz says 3.23.16

    I needed to hop on this essential oil train, like yesterday. A diffuser is soooo peaceful, thank you for my next gift to myself idea.

    I also take magnesium to promote muscle relaxation before sleep! It also really helps get things going in the morning, if you know what I mean.

    xx
    http://www.thetongueinchic.com

  20. Jackie says 3.25.16

    Definitely get a white noise machine – it’s changed the game for me. I love this Marpac one, it has an actual fan whirring inside so that you don’t get sick of a recorded track like with other white noise machines / apps.

    http://www.amazon.com/Marpac-DOHM-DS-Natural-actual-Machine/dp/B00HD0ELFA?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00

    • graceatwood says 3.25.16

      ooh thanks for the tip – I”m off to check that one out! Xx

  21. Jaishvats says 3.25.16

    Nice tips there….Breathing exercises can relax you… avoid caffeine… You can maintain a journal, before sleeping make a list of the happenings of the day for which you are grateful or simply happy… as somebody else said yoga is also good…. Another thing is imagine a box, put in all the things bothering you, lock it shut and be ready for a good sleep.

  22. Sonali says 4.2.16

    I have a special blanket which is very cozy and helps me get to sleep. Great tips, thanks for sharing 🙂

  23. Stephanie Winslade says 4.2.16

    Hiya, regarding cat and sleep. Cats are nocturnal, so if you have an indoor cat, its critical to play with kitty throughout day and before bed to help get rid of it’s energy so it can sleep through the night too. Even training it to harness, so you can take it for walks outside. I live in New Zealand where I have the luxury to let my be an indoor/ outdoor cat as it chooses. I have a cat door installed in my door. Jackson Galaxy – My Cat From Hell is a great reference point to keeping indoor cats. I really enjoyed your blog. I hope the cat-tips help.

    • graceatwood says 4.3.16

      Haha, thank you – much appreciated. I really do try to play with him during the day… I need to be better though, I don’t wear him out fully!

  24. Ramona says 4.3.16

    And sleep masks with cooling pads even help with puffy eyes in the morning 🙂 great tips!

    • graceatwood says 4.3.16

      That sounds amazing – where do you get those?

  25. Laura says 4.3.16

    Great tips! Keeping a diary does wonders for my sleep. I just write everything that’s bothering me down in a notebook before going to sleep. I also use this notebook to write down the thoughts and ideas that pop up in my head when I try to sleep. Having a good workout during the early evening also helps me sleep better, and don’t eat to much in the last hours behore going to bed!

  26. Monica says 4.3.16

    Great tips! I’m trying to create a bedtime ritual at the moment through setting up a new night time skin care routine. Talk about efficiency 🙂

    I’ve been toying with the idea of keeping nice candles in the bathroom and playing some soothing music as I primp and prime before bed.

  27. Anna says 4.26.16

    I know it sounds obvious but caffeine! I used to sit and drink lattes all afternoon long in the office until they took the machine away (don’t ask why, I’m still not happy about it). Since then though, I feel better at night and in the morning. Well apart from Mondays but that’s the way it is I guess!

  28. Morgan says 8.15.17

    Hi!

    I just stumbled on this post and really appreciate your advice! I’ve always had trouble falling asleep which is (quite literally) draining. Have you noticed a difference with acupuncture? If so, do you have any recommendations for an acupuncturist in NYC?

    Thanks!!!