Ever have those nights where you know you need to get to sleep, but you just can't? Your mind is racing and you are unable to shut it off no matter how hard you try. The more you think and stress about how you aren't sleeping, the longer it takes for you to get there. You stare at the clock counting down the hours you now have left to sleep, before your alarm goes off. Worst!!
It is a vicious cycle, and lets face it, it straight up sucks!
We all want to sleep better. More sleep = more energy = more productivity = less stress = more happiness! Yay!! I mean who wouldn't want that?
I have to admit, I am a pretty darn good sleeper. I have always prioritized getting a solid sleep, over well most things haha. BUT, that doesn't mean the quality of my sleep was always the best. The more overwhelmed I get, the harder I find it to shut my brain off.
I have discovered a number of tips that help me doze off quicker. So, now I share with you my top 5 tips for calming your mind and easing you into a night of deep sleep!
- Drink a cup of chamomile tea - Chamomile has long been known as a tea for calming and relaxing the mind. It is even the main ingredient in the famous Celestial Seasonings "Sleepy time tea" (anyone else get nostalgic about this tea?!). Without getting too deep into the pharmacology, chamomile has flavonoids (active plant constituents) that have mild sedative effects on the nervous system. As a bonus, it is also a great herb to help with digestive disturbances. Perfect those times when you have stress ate an entire pizza all to yourself (can you say GLUTEN BOMB?!). Nope just me? Alright then... make sure to drink this at least an hour before you plan on going to bed, so you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to pee. That is always a buzz kill!
- Take a lavender bath - This has got to be my all time favourite way to end a long day. I run a hot bath and pour about 5 drops of pure lavender essential oil while the bath is running (available at most health food or wellness stores). Like chamomile, lavender essential oil can help soothe and promote a deep sleep as a nervous system sedative and relaxant. Hey, its important to treat yourself like the queen/king that you are!
- Turn off your screens - This tip is especially important. The blue light that is emitted from our screens (computer, phone, tablet, TV) disrupts the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone secreted from the pineal gland that helps regulate sleep/wake cycles. So being exposed to this light at nighttime decreases melatonin levels. But, low melatonin levels have been associated with far worse things than just sleeplessness. Low melatonin levels have been shown to increase the risk of cancer, impair immune system function and potentially lead to cardio-metabolic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. YIKES!!! So ya, if you are going to do anything to help you sleep better, I can't emphasize the importance of this enough! Shutting down your computers and TVs at least an hour before bed can be extremely beneficial.
- Read a book - So now that you have shut down your computer for the night, what do you do? Reading a book, especially a fictional book, can help transport you into another world and help temporarily take your mind off of everything that is causing you to feel stressed or anxious. I don't know about you, but reading more is always at the top of my new years resolutions. The hour before bed is a great time to make this happen!
- Practice mindful breathing - I am a big advocate for the health benefits of meditation and mindfulness (a post for another time). While I won't go too into depth right now, I will leave you with a little tried and true breathing technique that I will frequently do as I am laying in bed eager and ready to be taken to dream world. It is called the 4-7-8 technique. Make sure to let all the air out before you begin. Start by taking a deep belly breath for 4 seconds, then hold for 7 seconds, and then slowly let it out for 8 seconds. Repeat this a total of 4 times or until you feel the calm kick in.
These are my top 5 tips to help you fall asleep. Do you have any tricks that I missed? I would love to hear in the comments below! If you try any of these out, please share your experiences.
Sleep well friends!