For this Weekend Wellness, I want to discuss something we all need and do: sleep. I’ve struggled with insomnia for years, maybe even since I started high school. I honestly can’t remember when or how it started; it’s just always been a fact for me. I struggle with both falling asleep and staying asleep. Most nights, in fact, I am awake between the hours of 3 and 5 am just because. It’s not exactly fun… The single biggest thing that’s had an impact on my sleepless nights has been to form a sleep routine. It’s almost as though I have trained my brain to know that these specific actions mean it’s time to turn off and go to sleep! That’s not to say there hasn’t been a lot of experimentation and trial and error… It feels like I’ve tried everything from prescription sleeping pills to acupuncture, so I wanted to share some tips for you on how I’ve learned to cope with my sleeplessness. I hope these suggestions help you, but I would also love to know what has worked (and not worked!) for you.
How I Created a Sleep Routine to Help My Insomnia
Setting rules for disconnecting from tech
It is scientifically proven that blue light disrupts your sleep cycle, so I have made a few changes in order to reduce that presence in our home. In the evenings, I wear blue light blocking glasses and have adjusted my phone settings. My iPhone has something called “Night Shift” where I can tell it to shift the color of the display to be warmer after dark. My settings begin at 8 pm and go until 7 am. I am also really strict with myself and don’t sleep with the phone in the bedroom. I have learned to love waking up to a normal alarm clock and not immediately reaching for my phone!
Showering or taking a bath at night
I am very picky when it comes to our bedding… I change our sheets weekly and make sure they are the most luxurious. Related to that, I try to keep the bedding as fresh and clean as possible, so showering at night helps with that. I also love how a warm shower or bath relaxes your muscles and helps put your brain into a cozy frame of mind. Most of the time, I prefer to take a bath and soak with our homemade essential oil bath bombs. Essential oils, like lavender, are a great addition to help soothe and relax your mind.
Turning your bedroom into a sanctuary
When we renovated the bedroom, my goal was to turn it into the ultimate retreat from the world. Linen bedding, black out shades, a new mattress… I went all out! Even now, as we live in a construction site for the kitchen, I have been really strict about making sure the bedroom stays zen. I’ve also learned that the room temperature plays into how well we sleep. Cooler temperatures are scientifically proven to improve your sleep quality, so we actually keep the vent in the bedroom closed so it’s cooler. I’ve been thinking of getting a weighted blanket, too. If you’ve tried one of those, let me know how you like it!
CBD oil and marijuana derivatives
This might be a taboo subject to some, but gradually the stigma of using CBD products is wearing away… and for good reason, because so many of these products are highly effective at helping with anxiety and insomnia. I began using CBD products to help with my pain after my accident and have found them to be helpful for my insomnia and anxiety, too. Because it’s a legal issue on a state-by-state basis, I can’t really recommend a specific product. If you’re local to Washington, reach out via DM on Instagram or email and I’ll let you know which products have worked the best for me!
Reading before bed
This might not be a tip for everyone, but I always read for about 30 minutes before I fall asleep. Even if it’s something exciting, my brain has been trained to shut down and go to sleep after reading. It sort of makes things difficult if I want to read in the afternoon over the weekend because I fall asleep… but I’d much rather have good sleep hygiene and a solid sleep routine!
Using a white noise machine
I’ve always slept with either a fan or white noise machine, even as a baby! My mom did it and I learned the habit from her. Now, when I hear any sound while I’m trying to sleep, I desperately need white noise to block it out. It’s especially bad when I travel and stay somewhere new to me. There are apps on my phone that I use while traveling to help with this. My favorite to use is the White Noise Lite app. And when I am home, this is the white noise machine I use.
No caffeine in the afternoon
This has actually been the hardest rule for me to follow! I used to looove my afternoon cup of coffee. However, I noticed that it would really mess with my ability to fall asleep. I started cutting back and now I only drink coffee in the morning. It’s helped so much! I replaced the habit of my afternoon caffeine break with a protein-based snack instead. Truffle salt almonds from Trader Joe’s are my personal fave.
This is just a short list of what I’ve actually tried! Mostly, I wanted to share what has had the most impact on my insomnia and what works the best as part of my sleep routine. To make this post more robust, I also reached out on Instagram for tips and tricks that have helped other Jojotastic readers and followers… and wow, you guys had so many to share!
A few more tips to help with insomnia and improve your sleep routine:
- using a sleep mask to block out light pollution
- melatonin as a natural sleep aid
- other essential oils like cedarwood and tangerine in an essential oil diffuser
- magnesium supplements
- misting your pillow with lavender linen water
- listening to soundscapes
Also, I am by no means a doctor, so please do consult a medical professional to help deal with sleep issues.
P.S. you can find even more self care and wellness tips here, including: