Tips, Tricks and the Latest Products to FINALLY Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Are new stressors keeping you up at night? Or have you been battling sleepless nights for a long time? Either way, you are not alone. Read along for my experience with some of these products that helped me tremendously in my search for better sleep. From our tried and true to the newest and most recommended products on the market. Let’s get back to a good night’s sleep, the healthy way.
Why is it that the older we get, and the more we have on our plates, the more likely we are to experience trouble sleeping? Seriously, we are getting busier and busier, and it is inevitably making us more tired at the end of the day, right? Yet it becomes even more difficult to fall asleep at night and recharge.
This started happening to me after college, but sleep deprivation wasn’t a huge topic during that time; in fact, I only call it sleep deprivation now (oh the benefit of being older and wiser). At the time, I blamed my hectic schedule, long nights on the weekends throwing off my midweek routine, general stress, sugar consumption, afternoon coffees, you name it I was probably doing it. So, rough nights of sleep didn’t surprise me. I accepted that these decisions were causing a lot of my issues and set out to correct what I could. I cut down my caffeine and sugar consumption, focused on prioritizing regular sleep hours, began medicating my stress with the help of a doctor.
But, even with these changes, it got worse.
Multiple days in a row of insomnia, going to bed exhausted only to stare at the ceiling until 4 am. My daily life was being affected, my attitude at work roller coastered, mood swings led to increased impatience with issues that used to roll off my shoulders. My friends and coworkers noticed my negative shift in mood even before I was ready to address it and their increased concern only wore me down more. Relationships became strained, social obligations felt like torture, I had no energy to work out, cook for myself or be active at all, and something needed to change. What I finally realized was, that my hectic days were leaving my body physically exhausted, but my mind was still racing with everything still left to do. Thoughts popping into my head that I hadn’t had time to process throughout the day, worries about my work load tomorrow, issues I hadn’t resolved with friends and family.
It was time to do something, serious. I owed it to myself and everyone in my life. So I started asking around. Was anyone else experiencing these horrible sleep issues? What was causing it for them? Had they found anything that helped? Turns out, I was not alone in this search for the miracle sleep assistant. Every year the number of people scanning the internet for help with their sleep issues climbs substantially. And most people, like me, we’re looking for natural aids instead of the readily available prescriptions with warning labels a mile long. I began to understand the gravity of this ongoing issue, and the reality of how many of us are quietly struggling with a dangerous problem.
The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are bigger and scarier than I had ever realized and in a society ruled by work-o-holics and “sleep is for the weak” mentality, it’s time we make a change to these expectations. Sleep deprivation creates the same mental fog as being drunk or hungover, causes physical and mental damage to our bodies, increases our risk of cancer, blood pressure issues, premature aging, and more. So, why are we being applauded for working 18 hour days? Why is minimizing your sleep a symbol of importance?
Luckily, the increased popularity of topics surrounding mental and physical health has been at the forefront of conversations these days. And with a huge spike in studies surrounding these health and wellness ideas, the topic of sleep deprivation and its concerns have stepped into the spotlight. And all of a sudden, the world started listening to the large population of people suffering and speaking out about these struggles. In a matter of a few years thousands of new products started hittig the shelves to help combat insomnia, general sleep deprivation, and a newer term, sleep anxiety. Sleep anxiety is what I eventually figured out was the basis of my particular challenge, and it’s more common than you would think.
For me, the symptoms of sleep anxiety were similar to my usual anxious tendencies. Overwhelming thoughts, the inability to focus, stressing over small things, inconsistent heart rate. But most consistently, bedtime was always the time my brain went into overdrive. Throughout the day, being busy, I didn’t always have time to slow down and think about much more than the next step in my day. I was physically and mentally exhausted, ready for bed, yearning for sleep…
But at night, when it’s quiet, and the world slows down … my brain turned ON.
What do I need to do tomorrow? Why didn’t that person respond to my message? When was the last time I trimmed the dog’s toenails? It went on and on. A list of things that kept my mind buzzing, and my day feeling incomplete. Yet I was too tired to get up and actually do anything about it. It was torture. Watching myself waste precious time stressing over things I couldn’t, or wouldn’t do at that moment while my body ached to rest.
Sound familiar? If so you may also be suffering from sleep anxiety too.
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who talked with me along the way, shared articles, experiences, their favorite remedies, and helpful information. The outpouring of support, tips, tricks, advice, vitamins and other products has been incredible. And after weeks of trials, research and experimentation I want to share my experience with some of my favorites with you all. Because guess what? They worked! Not all of them, but a lot. And just because something didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I only wish to share my honest opinion and experiences with the whole ordeal in the hopes that it may help someone else find a solution.
So here they are. Some of the best, and most highly recommended remedies for better sleep, and healthier living. Tried and tested by yours truly.
Tips, Tricks & Ways to Change Your Pattern.
1. Get a sleep journal or a notebook and keep it next to your bed.
If you find your mind racing at night about things you need to do tomorrow, what you didn’t complete today, or just random negative thoughts, jot it down. Make a to-do list or document some of the happy positive things you completed during the day to help steer your thoughts into a happier restful sleep.
This eased so much of my stress when it came to TODO lists and tasks I wanted to get done the following day. By writing things down when they popped into my head I was allowed to temporarily put them on hold, instead of stressing that I would forget tomorrow or be too busy. Things that went in the notebook were immediately prioritized in the morning and completed without hassle.
Studies have shown that journaling before bedtime majorly reduces stress, anxiety, and worry often affiliated with lack of sleep or struggling to fall asleep.
If you’re a list maker, like me, a simple notepad and pen next to the bed will do the trick.
But if you are interested in taking a more in-depth approach to journaling, pre-made journals like The 5 Minute Journal are praised amongst experts in the health and wellness community as guaranteed assistance with stress issues, happiness, gratitude, and sleep stresses as well.
2. Set the sleep schedule on your phone.
I don’t know why, but this always seemed so silly to me until someone I trusted swore by it. Allowing your phone to remind you to get ready for bed, and quiet your notifications after a certain hour majorly cuts down on late-night screen time.
Having my phone silenced, and the screen “put to sleep” truly convinced me to put my phone down, stop scrolling social media and get in bed earlier. And the soft, gentle alarm in the morning makes waking up so much more pleasant.
The real benefit of setting your sleep schedule is purely scientific. It is proven that going to bed around the same time every night and rising at the same time in the morning teach your body when to go to sleep. Eventually, you will fall into a rhythm when you can fall asleep easily every night at the right time to get the adequate amount of sleep you need.
3. If you work from home. Do not work from your bed.
Making your bed a hang-out spot, work spot, snack spot, etc can play tricks on your mind when it comes to bedtime. Associate your bed with sleep and sleep only. Do your best not to work, hang out or eat in bed. Sleep psychologists and the Huffpost say your bed should be for sleep, and sex only. And I can’t say I can argue with that!
4. Avoid caffeine after lunch.
This one is pretty straightforward. Caffeine keeps you awake and sends a lot of us on a serious buzz. Often, we don’t even realize there might be caffeine in some of the things we’re consuming.
Check your labels, and try to cut yourself off after that second coffee, and definitely switch to decaf at lunch time.
Did you know? Caffeine can stay effective in your system for 6-10 hours! It may be time to switch that afternoon latte to a decaf.
5. Try your hardest to exercise daily
Even a short walk outside can boost endorphins, provide some natural vitamin D and help you sleep better at night. But if you’re an active person like most of us in this community, a serious, hard workout will absolutely encourage your body to sleep better and harder at night.
I notice drastic differences in my ability to fall asleep based on how much physical activity I got that day. Yes, seems obvious but when in desperate times .. do what you know works. Tire yourself out.
6. Wash. Your. Sheets.
This one is so simple. Clean sheets are comfortable, we sleep better when we’re comfortable. Seems pretty self-explanatory right? But how often are you actually washing them? Have you invested in a nice set of affordable linens? And how much better do you feel every time you crawl into a fresh bed?
Invest in a few extra sets of sheets, rotate them through the cycle instead of having to wash the one set your mom gave you in college, and wait for it to dry. We spent about 30% of our lives in bed. Invest in some nice sheets, and wash them!
A study in 2012 by the US National Sleep Foundation found that 73% of us sleep better on fresh sheets. And that our romantic lives improve as well.
Tools, Supplements & Other Products.
1. Try out a natural sleep aid.
Trying to detach from prescriptions sleep medications? Or just looking for a natural way to promote sleep when you need it? There are hundreds of natural sleep vitamins hittings on the shelves, and they all have their benefits. There is no way I would be able to try them all, so I focused on the recommendations I heard repeatedly.
2. Magnesium, Melatonin, 5 HTP, Vitamin D3, B vitamins, and chamomile.
I found a product called Sleep Fairy, that had most of them in one capsule and added a D3 soft gel to the mix. I take 2 about 30 minutes before I lay down and I am OUT. But am not drowsy in the morning at all. I highly highly highly recommend this product. If youre interested in starting a product like this, utilize your sleep journal. Make entries at night or in the morning to track and progress and improvements they provide.
3. Sound Machines
White noise & sound machines are great for those who find themselves distracted by outside noises, lyrical music, or are often being surprised awake by random sounds.
Recently I was introduced to Relax Melodies, an app that lets your mix and match white noises into your own calming melody. I use it every night and switch it up when I feel like a change. After sleeping in a camper for almost 2 months on the beach in Baja I craved the sound of the waves. Recently with spring making its way back to Denver, I chose rain sounds and thunderstorms. They calm me when I’m getting ready for bed and give my mind something to pay attention to that is not a nagging thought.
4. CBD & THC formulas for sleep.
The use of Cannabis has taken off in the medical world, and is quickly becoming available throughout the country. The incredible advances in CBD/ THC products for sleep could not be left out here.
Again, there are just too many products on the market to try them all. So I went with one that came more highly recommended than any other, 1906 Midnight drops. Midnight drops are a blend of 6 plant medicines, 5mg THC and 5mg CBD.
When I say I am forever changed by this product, I mean it. Within 10 minutes I was soothed into a sleepy dream state that I later described as a floaty, euphoric comfort. I did not suffer any of the usual anxiety, fogginess, or discomfort of other cannabis products nor was I ever “stoned”. I woke in the morning feeling completely rested and clear-minded with absolutely no hangover I would have experienced with other THC products in the past. Whether or not you are a frequent cannabis user, I can not recommend these drops enough, if you live in an area that has legalized the use of cannabis.
5. Weighted Blankets
The gentle weight of a weighted blanket is said to help relax and calm anxious or restless bodies and guides you into a more peaceful slumber. This product is widely used to combat multiple stress and anxiety disorders as well as insomnia.
Blankets like The Gravity Blanket have tested and proven their product to promote better sleep in their users.
This one I have mixed reviews about for very personal reasons. The insane weight of the blanket I found slightly overwhelming at night mostly due to the presence of two small dogs in my bed who love to burrow and move around constantly. I was disturbed by their constant movement under the heavy blanket as they tried to understand what on earth I had brought into their nest. I eventually ditched the blanket in bed out of pure hassle. But quickly found myself reaching for it in other scenarios. It may not be a nightly routine for me, but my blanket has definitely proved its worth and with a plethora of 5 star reviews I have no doubt that others will find immense benefit.
6. Invest in a pair of Bluelight blocking glasses. And wear them every night after 6 or 7 pm when you are logging screen time.
Most of us know at this point, but the blue light from our TVs, Computers, and cellphones is majorly damaging to our eyes and our sleep patterns. The artificial light source blocks our bodies’ ability to produce natural melatonin which makes us feel drowsy and messes with our circadian rhythms.
I have noticed a remarkable difference in my ability to fall asleep when I remember to wear my glasses in the evenings, especially when playing on my phone in bed or watching a late-night movie.
7. Aroma Therapy
Use Aroma Therapy to train your mind to associate a scent with sleep, relaxation, happiness, and more. It can be a fun process as it is completely customizable to the individual. There is no proof that any, one scent promotes sleep widely enough to be labeled a “sleep scent”. But there are hundreds if not thousands of aromatherapy products, oils, and scents for you to experiment with.
Scents I’ve tried and love – Sweet Orange, Chamomile, Bergamot, Valerian, and Ylang Ylang. Personally, I am not a fan of most things floral, so scents like lavender and Jasmin don’t do it for me. But obviously, those are some of the most popular.
If applying or diffusing an oil or burning a candle it is super important to make sure you are using the right quality products. Do not ever put oil on your skin or pillow that is not an organic, consumable product. And steer clear of artificial scents in candles and reed sticks that can be overpowering and toxic. My favorite way to use aromatic oils is by diffusing Doterra oils in a vapor diffuser.
Alright, if you’ve made it this far, thank you for coming to my sleep (Ted) talk. But seriously, thank you for reading and I truly hope that something I mentioned here may work for you. Sleep anxiety and sleep issues, in general, are miserable and I do not wish them on anyone. I hope that my adventure through these techniques and products inspires your to try some of your own, and brings you some better rest. Life can be chaotic, stressful, and downright exhausting. We all deserve a good night’s sleep after days like these!
Please note, all products I mentioned are not restricted to only those who suffer from sleep anxiety. These tools and techniques can help guide anyone into a more restful sleep when needed. Sometimes, without explanation sleep does not come easily. Equip yourself with the tools to guide yourself into a deep sleep, stay asleep, and wake up ready for your day.
about the author
Say 👋 to Ashley!
Ashley Conner is a Denver native, with a lifelong passion for travel, cooking, snowboarding, music, and storytelling. What started as an interest in poetry has blossomed into blogging about causes she cares about, like the one in this post! New to the STRENGTH IN THE CITY team, expect to see more amazing content from her in the near future!
When she’s not authoring content about health and wellness, you can find her on the mountains snowboarding the day away… If you can catch her!
To follow Ashley’s adventures, cooking, and life in Denver check out @AshleyyConner on Instagram.