I have many many conversations with women about all the moving parts of their lives. Menopause, hot flashes, period cramps, motherhood, empty nesting, loss, ailing parents, aging and skin problems to name just a few. One topic that comes up often is sleep OR lack thereof. I am astounded by the number of people who have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, falling back to sleep.
I don’t want to curse myself here, but I have not been one who struggles except occasionally when it is a full moon. I also go to bed very early like before 9 and am up at the crack of dawn like 5 (which is why I have so much time for all of my writing).
I started to think about what constitutes a good sleep routine and realized I have a pretty steady ritual. Let me also say that my life is a lot easier these days regarding sleep routines; I no longer have small children, my grown son is on his own, and I don’t have any pets so I have essentially removed a lot of peripheral interruptions.
But even when all these moving parts made up my life, including a husband in my past life, I could still sleep well and sound.
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Here is what has worked for me and perhaps some will work for you if sleeping and or staying asleep is a problem.
Find a time to go to bed and stick with it, if your sleep time is erratic, you will be too. Try to wake up at the same time each day too, this gets your body prepared for the day and ultimately ready for the night.
Make Your Bed
Make your bed in the morning. I do feel that having a freshly made bed to come home to changes the energy of your sleep.
Before bed, try not to drink a lot of water or tea or coffee before bed. The pee factor can physically wake you and this can lead to not easily falling back to sleep.
Limit Sugar and Alcohol
Sugar and alcohol are two very real antagonists for your relationship with bedtime. Snacks after dinner, especially ice cream and chocolate, along with those delicious glasses of wine that call to you after a long day at whatever work you take part in. They might make you fall asleep like a lullaby, but they are more often the reasons for the 3 am wide awake when your blood sugar drops after your nighttime fasting. Dr. Ian Stern says in his article, “This low blood sugar sends a message to your body that you have run out of fuel therefore the body will produce cortisol to jumpstart the metabolic process.” I am not suggesting to be a purist; by no means do I ever stay clear of these delights, but at least understand that these before-bed rituals could be your nemesis."
Prep for Bed
If you can, take a hot shower or a bath. Use some lovely body wash. I love this lavender or rose Shower Gel by Jurlique. It really makes for a pleasant aroma, and this gets my body calm. Spend a little time moisturizing your skin, too, just rubbing your legs and arms, just trying to connect with yourself. I fully realize that if you have a boatload of busy at evening time, you are probably rolling your eyes at this. Maybe just even trying one night a week to give yourself some extra love.
Darken Your Bedroom
Light can be a culprit. In my room, I don’t have blinds on the upper windows, which drives my partner a little bonkers in the summer light. But I love the moon and the stars shining into my room; it feels like art. I used to watch tv in bed, I haven’t done this for at least 12 years now, I do think this makes a difference. I listen to a podcast or a meditation app like this one, before bed a lot of times and this really helps. I have really enjoyed the waking-up app. Some are free, some are subscriptions. Just make sure to set a timer so after you are snoozing, you don’t get jolted by a voice you weren’t prepared for.
Spray your pillow or your room with a nice mist of something that gives you pleasure, not a heavy perfume, but an aroma. I love these mists we carry by lotuswei. They have a lot of different aromas that really create a sense of calm.
Limit Your Screen
If you bring your phone into your bedroom, turn it face down and turn off the sound. This is probably the number one reason sleep interruptions occur. Even when my son was out and about, I still put my phone on silent. Somehow it worked out.
I like some white noise. I put a fan on facing away from the bed and this really helps distract me from the quiet that can sometimes make your brain head into wild world. White noise machines can be helpful too. We have used these in our facial rooms for over fifteen years, they are really helpful.
Breathe. Lie on your back, arms spread, palms up and just take slow deep breaths. In through your nose, out through your mouth to start and pay attention to the feeling. Each time your mind wanders, just gently bring it back to counting breaths again. Before you know it, you will be out in never-never land. Use some great affirmations: I am willing to release all negative thought patterns, I am enough, I am calm, balanced and at peace, I am open to having a restful and full night sleep. Sometimes we have to fake it till we make it and affirmations can create a strong shift when practiced.
Head Back to Sleep
Should you wake up at 3am, the infamous witching hour, try not to look at your phone. Go back to that breathing again. If you still can’t fall asleep, can you read for a bit or write down what thoughts are going haywire? I learned from a video I happened to catch that sometimes those 3 am wake ups are messaging systems to let us know to redirect or pay attention. Is this a possibility?
Combat Hot Flashes
If hot flashes are your new wakeup partner, just layer your sheets, keep your window ready for opening or closing and think of them as power surges. Your body is changing always and this is a big one. Hot flashes can be liberating too, sleep naked, kick the covers off, sweat them out, let that shit go, those wake up calls can be powerful if we look at them differently.
HAPPY BEDTIME MY FRIENDS. HOPE THIS HELPED.