Ugggghhhhhh, do you have those nights where your mind is racing and you just CANNOT get to sleep? Your head is churning with thoughts from the day, you start to think about everything you have to do tomorrow, or maybe you even get those BIG, AMAZING ideas as you’re laying there. Whatever it is, you just can't shut it off. It’s like a trigger that as soon as you shut the lights off and get cozy in your bed your brain goes into overdrive. Like your brain says, all Siri style "oh, hello Melissa, it looks like you think you are going to sleep now. Unfortunately, no. I've got other plans for you, let's start with where you'd like to vacation in 3 years from now and go from there..."
Aaaaaand three hours later you look at the clock and wonder why am I not sleeping already?! Le sigh. I. feel. you.
As a small business owner with three highly active kids and a jam-packed schedule, sometimes those moments before drifting off to sleep are the only time I truly have to myself to think. But, if I let the thinking start, I know I will never fall asleep. So over the years, I’ve had to come up with some ways to make sure I can turn off my brain and get to sleep so that I don’t wake up a zombie the next day.
Here are five of my best techniques for falling asleep every night. They aren't rocket science, but maybe they will work for you, too?!
Develop a beditme routine. Having a consistent bedtime routine primes your body for what’s ahead. Just like having a solid warm-up routine helps get your body ready to work out, having a bedtime routine gets you ready to sleep. If you have kids you know how important the bedtime routine is to make sure they get to sleep. It sets the tone and tells the body what’s coming next: sleep. Hey, bedtime routines aren’t just for kids!
Avoid the screen. This one can be hard. If you’re like most of us these days, you are tied to your device. Whether it’s phone, laptop or iPad, it can be very tempting to lay in bed and just “quickly” check email, look at your schedule for the next day, or see what all of your friends are up to on Facebook or the gram. But, you probably know by now that the blue light from your device is a sleep killer. Most studies advise that you avoid blue light for at least 30 minutes before you turn in at night. Some devices now have a blue light filter that you can activate in the evening. That helps, but the better strategy is to just PUT IT DOWN. Set a cut-off time for devices and regain some of your life back! Better yet, build that cutoff time into your routine (see above).
Meditate. In the past few years, meditation has gone mainstream. One of its many benefits is helping to clear your mind and relax your body to get your brain ready for a restful night ahead. For those of us with brains in constant overdrive, meditation can be the most effective tool to fall asleep. If you are new to meditation there are several apps available that can take you on a guided sleep meditation. Calm and Headspace are two of the most popular apps, however the meditation tool I use is very basic and requires no technology. I close my eyes and imagine drawing a circle on the “screen” behind my closed eyes. When I start, I am drawing quickly in the clockwise direction. As thoughts come up, I simply let them pass through the circle, switch the direction for “drawing” the circle, and slow down the speed of path a bit each time. At some point, my head is empty and I am verrrrrrry slowly drawing the circle and before I know it, I have fallen asleep. The shape doesn’t matter, but I find a circle to be the simplest. I’ve taught this trick to my kids and it seems to work for them, so it may work for you too!
Use fragrance. Oh, big shocker here, the scent addict uses scent. But hear me out...scents like lavender and vanilla have been shown to help you relax and prepare yourself for a good night of sleep. You can add fragrance to a warm bath or shower, if that’s part of your bedtime routine. Or try a couple spritzes of a linen spray on your pillow before you lay down, to soothe you as you close your eyes. I also like to burn a candle as I am going through my evening routine and prefer scents with lavender, jasmine and vanilla. Just don’t forget to blow it out before going to bed!
- Picture a soothing location. If you really commit to this it can act a lot like meditation. You get your mind off of everything else and only focus on the calm, peaceful location. A common stress fighting technique is to go to your “happy place” and I don’t know about you, but not being able to fall asleep majorly stresses me out. So think escaping to the beach or mountains--a sound machine can help this feel more realistic--helps send me set off to dreamland. The key is not to start thinking ABOUT the place and the logistics of getting there, what you will do, how you will pay for it, when you will find the time off to make it happen, but rather to just picture yourself THERE. It doesn't matter if it's realistic, just imagine BEING there. That's the key.
Some nights I am out immediately. Other nights I only need to use one of these techniques to get the job done. Buuuuuut if I’m being honest there are definitely those nights when I need all five. Maybe on repeat. Amirite?! With practice and patience we can all be better sleepers. Find what works for you and make it a habit. Sweet dreams, friend. 🖤