Do you have difficulty falling asleep? Do you toss and turn? Do you lay awake at night with thoughts racing through your mind? If this sounds familiar, I have some great tips for how to help you fall asleep easier and get a better quality night’s sleep.
First of all, know that you are NOT alone.
sleep disorders affect up to 40% of Canadians
55% of women ages 18-40 report difficulty falling asleep
Canadians report one hour LESS sleep in 2018 than they did twenty years ago
Half of Canadians report waking up still feeling tired
Sleep is critically important for your overall health whether you are trying to lose weight, improve the health of your skin, or manage pain better, sleep is integral to improvements in all these areas. Good sleep also allows for better cognitive function, increased productivity, better focus, and improved social interactions. On top of that, poor quality or quantity of sleep is linked to heart disease, inflammation, depression, adrenal fatigue, decreased immune function, and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and stroke.
Who is thinking right now that they need to get better sleep?
If you are a parent, you likely remember creating bedtime routines for your kids when they were young. Here’s a little secret that no one tells you….you are no different than a toddler when it comes to bedtime routines! Your body will THRIVE on a routine as much as a three year old does!
Let’s look at some easy steps you can take TONIGHT to get a better night of sleep.
Turn off the TV. I started with a tough one for most people. The good news is that the rest of these won’t be as difficult as this one for most. Television is by far one of the most consuming parts of our day. The average Canadian watches 30 hours of television a week! With the most popular shows focusing on crime, drama, and violence, these topics can really impact our psyche before bed. Minimizing this visual stimulation before bed will lessen our electrical activity in our brain before bed.
Stop scrolling. Okay, okay, TWO tough ones. I am still guilty of this before bed sometimes. I have to actively force myself to leave my phone elsewhere before I go to sleep. Looking at an iPhone for social media, responding to an email, or playing a game before bed is similar to television. However, these three situations also tend to activate the stress response in our body. We go into a bit of “fight or flight” response, stress hormones are released and it’s more difficult for us to calm down before bed. We want our nervous system to be in "rest and digest" before bed.
Begin 30 minutes before your normal bedtime. This may seem counterintuitive especially if you have difficulty falling asleep. However, if you can begin to train your brain and body that bedtime is coming, it will slowly learn. Keep in mind this process can take three months for your body to get used to a bedtime routine! If 30 minutes is too much, even start 5 minuets earlier and add five minutes each week to get up to 30.
Create your rituals with intention. As I head to bed, my thoughts are on appreciation, gratitude, and rest. I go through the next few steps with intention so that my body is acknowledging it’s time to sleep. My bedtime rituals look like this:
Put on my pyjamas, take a Serenity softgel, and body roll for a few minutes releasing any lingering tension within my body.
Turn on my diffuser by my bed with my favourite oils for sleep (see below for ideas).
Brush my teeth and wash my face.
Brief gratitude journal entry. Jot down 3 things you're grateful for from the day.
5-10 minute meditation.
Apply a sleepy roller blend on my bottom of my feet and back of my neck & shoulders.
Lay down in bed, take several deep breaths through your nose, and go to sleep.
Create a better position and environment for sleep.
This is simply a matter of creating a space that is relaxing and for sleep. Your bed should be used for TWO things: sleep and sex and occasionally building a small fort. Keep TV, phones, computers, and books out of the bedroom. Keep your room at about 65F (18C) degrees at night. Have a comfortable but supportive pillow (only one!). Choose sheets that feel soft against your skin. If you must have noise to fall asleep, keep is quiet and relaxing in the background at a low volume but ideally, no noise is best and left side sleeping is best.
Do you use essential oils?
These diffuser recipes have been tested by my family. We all have our favorites (mine is Out Like a Light) but they have all been used in our home. These blends can be used for adults and kids alike, and there are no concerns for pets either.
If your bedtime routine is the exact opposite of what I’ve described, try not to change EVERYTHING at once. You’ll likely lay awake and frustrated if you do them all at one time. This can be a process but the results are worth it. Treat this as a three to six month process that the goal a few months down the road is to wake feeling refreshed and rested.
Wishing you a better sleep tonight!