Who struggles with getting decent, quality sleep? I did for a long time. In fact, I still have times when I struggle, but overall, I manage to get what I need, and I feel nourished when I wake up.
What has made a difference? Number one thing I did, was to make sleep my number 1 priority.
Did I simply say – i’m going to get ‘x’ number of hours every night sleep and do it? Nope.
But what I did do was look at what I was doing throughout my day to help achieve a nourishing sleep at night. I recently heard the statement from Dr Daniel Amen – “Is this good for my brain? Yes or No?” which, without realising I had been doing for the past year. Now I just make it a formal part of my questioning. A slight twist is – “Is this good for my sleep?”. Ultimately what is good for my sleep will ultimately be good for my brain. Win Win!
So – what are the things that I ‘try’ to do each day to help me sleep and wake up feeling nourished?
1. Go to bed same time every night.
I try to go to bed at the same time every night and try to turn the light off at the same time every night. Whilst I do use electronics in bed (one thing I am working on not doing!) I aim to turn off my light at the same time each night. The reasoning behind this, is that your brain actually LOVES routine. Your brain will start to wind down your body to get ready for sleep in those few hours before bed. So – tip 1: Aim to go to bed at the same time each night and switch lights off same time each night.
2. Blue Blocking Lights.
I use Blue Blocking lights to light the house at night. I have young children in my house that get up at night. So I use Blue Blocking night lights in my house. These lights plug in like a normal night light, but the difference is they have a Red LED globe. This reduces the amount of blue light we are exposed to overnight which helps us get a better quality sleep. If by chance, I need to get up overnight to help the kids, I am not overly stimulated by being exposed to blue light, and I can get back to sleep quicker and easier.
3. Do a brain dump.
Sometimes I have thoughts going around and around in my head and I have trouble switching off. Don’t we all! So, I do a brain dump. This sometimes looks like a ‘to do list’ or it sometimes looks like journal writing where I write about a topic or subject. Other times it is a bunch of scribbles where I am getting out the ‘inner mean girl’ to get the negative thoughts out of my head and flipping them. Sometimes it is a brainstorm of ideas I have been holding onto. This is such a good fun way to get these ideas out of my brain to let it rest, knowing I don’t have to hold onto it anymore.
4. Eat well.
This is an area I am working on. When I eat well – highly nourishing food in the form of unprocessed foods, I feel so much better! I sleep so much better. But, I am human and my daily intake doesn’t always look like that. But making the effort to simply eat nourishing foods, I definitely sleep better as a result.
5. Body check in.
I check in with myself to see what my body needs. This has been one of the most amazing ‘side effects’ of using essential oils in my daily life. It has allowed me to check in with both my physical and emotional needs. Maybe its aches and pains or maybe its emotional responses. I can choose an oil that will help to support my bodies needs in that moment that will help encourage sleep. I will apply oils topically to my body to help in the areas that need nourishment to help me sleep.
6. Setting up a sleep supporting environment.
Where you sleep, you need to respect and nourish your space. When my bedroom is messy, and cluttered (especially near my bed) I simply do not sleep well. My brain goes into overdrive and I can’t switch off. But when my space is clutter free and clean, I can relax and I feel nourished, supported. I also love diffusing essential oils. If I want to diffuse oils, I generally set up the space around 30min before I am heading to bed. Sometimes I use a sleep spray and use calming/relaxing essential oils in a spritzer bottle and spray a light spray over my pillow and linen. Using the scent of essential oils, the brain relates that smell to the routine of sleep, linking the two actions together. After 10 days of using the same scent during sleep time – the brain will link that scent to the time for sleep and will start to prepare the body to go to sleep. Our awesome is our brain!
7. Drinking enough water.
Most of us are chronically dehydrated. We simply do not get enough water. Our brain is made up of about 75% water so we need to get adequate water throughout the day to ensure our brain can function properly. If we get enough water throughout the day, our brains can work efficiently during sleep to repair and nourish our bodies and memories. So, (as a rough guide) aim to get 35ml water for each KG of body weight. So a 50kg person should aim to drink 1750ml or 1.75L of water a day. A 100kg person should aim to drink 3500ml or 3.5L per day. Please note: this is simply a guide for a ‘normal’ person and does not take into account any illnesses or life changes such as pregnancy or breastfeeding that may need different calculations.
8 Assessing sleep quality.
I function so much better in this world when I get the quality sleep I need. So when I say quality sleep, I am not talking about the number of hours I get. Each night that is different for me. I judge the quality of sleep by ‘how I feel’ when I wake up. If I wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated – then to me, that was a night of quality sleep. If I wake up feeling tired and flat, despite an appropriate number of hours sleep, then that was a night of poor quality sleep for me. So, if you continuously wake up feeling flat and tired, maybe it is worth investigating the reasons why. Is it one of the steps above? Or is it something else medically that needs to be investigated?
9. Reducing caffeine intake.
This one is kind of obvious but reducing the amount of caffeine you drink. I only try to have coffee in the morning before lunch. Ideally, no coffee would be better but I’m human and have human weaknesses. I really look forward to sitting down with a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning before the kids wake up. Sometimes I add a drop of essential oil (such as peppermint) to give me a boost so I don’t need that extra cup.
So, next time you have trouble sleeping, or feel as though you are not getting the quality of sleep you deserve, look at your day and make improvements to wake up feeling nourished.