You could probably call me a “binge insomniac”. I have unpredictable periods of time lasting from days to weeks, when sleep happens only one in three nights. So when I speak with customers about the topic of insomnia, I get it. I also believe in the power of nature, and the capacity of our bodies to reset and rebalance when we’re getting the nutrients and environmental elements that we need. I’ve had a lot of practice dealing with insomnia, and have some tried-and-true tips that might help you like they’ve helped me.
Write it down
If you’re a person who tends to overthink everything and just can’t shut it off at night, clear your brain out by journaling. Journaling the thoughts and ideas that are racing through your mind at bedtime is similar to giving your brain a bath. You can also make your to-do list for the following day. Wrap up your writing with a definitive statement like this: “The day is done, I did my best, and I will do so again tomorrow. But for now, I'm going to rest.” Really, sometimes you just have to tell your mind and body what to do.
Wash the day off with a shower
Do you deal with the public during the day? Are you a caretaker, a good listener, a parent, or a carrier of others’ burdens? If so, one of the best ways to release the day is to hop into a warm to hot shower. Never underestimate the incredible power of water to balance the emotions and refresh the soul.
Turn off the night-light
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in our bodies to regulate sleep and wakefulness. Very basically, it is released or suppressed according to the natural cycles of day and night, light and dark. To promote sleep, melatonin is released in the evening, when the sun goes down, and also when lying down. Conversely, melatonin is suppressed in daylight, and when standing upright. Many people find that as they get older, sleep is harder to come by. This is because, like all other hormones, the natural production decreases as we age. However, the problem many of us modern people face is that we spend the entire evening in brightly lit rooms right up until bedtime. The fix: dim the lights in the evening, sleep in a completely dark room, and in the morning, throw open the blinds and let the morning sunshine in. It might take 30 days or longer to see the results of your effort, so be persistent.
Don’t go to bed full
If you grind your teeth while you sleep, experience gas and bloating, or wake up with a heavy feeling in your abdomen, your digestion might be the reason you’re not getting a good night sleep. Although food intolerances may be the culprit, even well-tolerated food can become a problem if it sits in your belly overnight. Eating a light dinner earlier in the evening could be the helpful.
But don’t try to sleep with low blood sugar either
If you wake up hungry, or feel anxious at bedtime, low blood sugar might be the culprit. A light high-protein snack before bed should solve sleeplessness from low blood sugar. A snack idea: a small handful of almonds, or a yogurt.
People with cramps, inflammation, spasms, or a feeling of jangling nerves might be lacking in this critical nutrient. There are many types of magnesium supplements available, including instant drinks, drops, or capsules. Pick the kind you’re most likely to use and try it for a few days. If you’re deficient in magnesium, you will probably feel better across the board when you add it into your diet as a supplement.
Use the military method
When deployed, soldiers must be ready for any situation any time, and sleep conditions are often the opposite of peaceful. This military sleep method was published in a book by a coach based on training methods used by military pilots to prepare for combat. Once classified material, it is now available to everyone. Click here for instructions on this method. According to the article, this method is effective for 96% of people who use it, after 6 weeks of regular practice. I have had success using the "don't think" mantra.
Try calming herbal teas during the day
Anyone who deals with high levels of stress during the day can benefit from teas like Daily Calm, Anxiety Relief, Inflammation Relief, or Happy Place. The herbal ingredients have both a short term relaxing effect as well as longer-term cumulative benefits. The more your mind and body get used to handling stress from a relaxed state, the better off you will be in the long run, and the benefits go beyond deeper sleep. High stress levels are a culprit in many chronic and degenerative diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Relaxing the body and mind regularly will yield benefits across the board. Our Zen Box is a collection of my favorite products to feel calm and peaceful during the day so that you can fall asleep better at night.
Try sedating herbal blends at night
If you’ve done everything possible and still lie there awake, sedative herbs can provide a nudge to your nervous system. Some of the most common sleep herbs include valerian, which is a general sedative; passionflower, which soothes the nerves and calms the mind; and hops (the same plant they make beer out of), another sedating herb. Sleep-promoting herbal blends are Nitey Nite tea and Knock Out Drops (also in capsules). Sleep Serum applied to the wrist is surprisingly potent, and is the most effective herbal sleep aid for me. If I apply more than a few drops of Sleep Serum, I wake up feeling groggy.
Regarding sedative herbal tinctures: these are potent extracts, and work rather quickly. You can avoid waking up groggy by micro-dosing: take 3 to 5 drops of a tincture like Knock Out Drops every 10 to 15 minutes until you start feeling sleep creeping up on you. This way, you will take the perfect amount to fall asleep, but not so much that you have a hard time waking up. If you find that you fall asleep just fine, but wake up during the night, take more of the herbs; have a few more sips of tea, or take a few more drops of tincture. Repeat the process until you’re ready to go down into slumber again.
Lastly, if nothing works, get out of bed and go do something. Read, write, listen to music, fold laundry, and accept the situation as peacefully as you can. Make use of your time, and try again tomorrow.