67% of people struggle with sleep at least once a week. 27% of people have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, I am one of those people. I can toss and turn for hours before finally falling asleep, making me frustrated, which makes it even more difficult to drift off. Who can relate? I’ve also worked odd hours for the past 3 years (late nights or night shifts on weekends, day shifts during the week). This can make it difficult to establish a routine, which can cause difficulty sleeping. I have taken sleep aids, however they usually seem to make me tired the next day so for the past year I have been developing better sleep hygiene.
- habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.
- “sleep hygiene is the key to sweet dreams”.
Having a set bedtime routine can help you get to sleep quicker, because your mind and body will associate the things that you do with sleeping (e.g. reading, brush teeth, wash face, bed, SLEEP). My routine takes about an hour from start until I’m asleep, if I do everything. I notice a big difference in the quality of my sleep when I have a routine, and when I slip up. If I get home from working a night shift and do the things that work for me I know I will sleep better, but sometimes I think “Ugh I’m too tired to do that”, so I skip something, or a few things. Next thing I know 3 hours have passed and I’m kicking myself for being lazy. In addition to a good bedtime routine, it is necessary to have healthy habits throughout your whole day including regular exercise and proper nutrition.
Adequate nutrition is important for good overall health, including sleep. Ensuring you eat your daily recommended calorie intake, consuming predominantly whole foods will help. Avoid sugary or caffeinated foods and beverages before bed and swap them for things like natural Peanut Butter on Wholewheat Toast sprinkled with Chia Seeds, or Trail Mix. Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine than others, switching to decaf coffee and tea and limit chocolate will help this.
Magnesium helps to relive insomnia by reducing levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, while helping muscles to relax after a long day. Supplements may be required in this day and age because magnesium levels in the soil are lower, making it more difficult to obtain the recommended amount through diet alone.
I try to not use my phone, laptop, etc. for 2 hours before I go to bed. This helps my brain slow down and get ready for bed. The blue light from electronic devices can disrupt the body’s natural sleep pattern, causing individuals to be more alert, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Additionally it can inhibit the secretion of melatonin, a hormone which regulates the biological clock and sleep cycle.
Reading for 10-20 minutes in bed helps my mind calm and prepare for bed. Some of my favorite bed time reads from the past year or so include; “Eat Pray Love”, Elizabeth Gilbert, “Big Magic”, Elizabeth Gilbert, and “Lifes Golden Ticket”, Brendan Bouchard. These inspirational books set me up for a night of sweet dreams.
High quality essential oils (EO) are key here if you want safe and effective help to sleep better. I use and trust dōTERRA because they are superior quality, 3rd party tested, and grown in their native land for maximum potency (and effectiveness). I will outline how the oils below help with sleep and how I use them. I use them topically for sleep, you can also use them in a diffuser or use them internally (not all essential oils can be taken internally, the oils listed below can – if they are quality oils like dōTERRA). In the future I will write spotlight posts on my favorite oils, which include all of these 🙂
This is most popular essential oil in the world for a reason, Lavender helps to calm and sooth the mind and body which helps you to fall asleep quicker. I rub 1-2 neat drops on my feet, giving myself a quick massage. I also mix one drop of Lavender and Frankincense with a carrier oil (like fractionated coconut oil) and rub it into my face, temples, behind my ears, behind my neck and on my chest. Inhale through cupped hands after application.
Known as “The King of Oils”, Frankincense has many amazing uses including acting as a sleep aid. It lowers anxiety and stress levels which can keep your wheels turning when you want to relax and fall asleep. It also helps to control body temperature, open airways, and eliminate pain and inflammation. My nana uses this mixed with Lavender to help with Sleep Apnea. She said it helped her fall asleep, stay asleep and snore less. #SleepWin
Another amazing oil with a long list of uses, Clary Sage stimulates the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, which promotes relaxation, and reduce nerve excitability. This essential oil in particular can be beneficial for those with Insomnia, Anxiety related sleep disturbances, and Sleep Apnea. “A 2008 study in the journal Sleep found that patients with insomnia had 30 percent lower levels compared to a control group”. Rub this oil on your feet or mix it with the lavender and frankincense.
Another one of my favorites, Wild Orange is calming and sedative, but can also be energizing and uplifting. This oils does what your body needs it to do. Mix this with the lavender and frankincense for instant relaxation.
Relaxation is key for bedtime, which is why yoga can be so beneficial. I don’t always do this, but when I do it pays off! If you are familiar with yoga, try rolling out the mat and doing whatever comes to you and feels good. I like to play relaxing music in the background and put my EO diffuser on with lavender. If your new to it type in “Yoga for sleep” into Youtube, you will find over 16,000,000 videos! Roll out your mat and give it a try. Remember to slow down your breathing and be mindful of your intention,this promotes relaxation to calm the mind and body.
Ending yoga in Savasana is always the cherry on top of my practice. I like to meditate right after, lying down if I am getting ready for bed. You can meditate in silence, with music, or with a guided meditation (available on youtube or podcasts). Take it into the bedroom when you feel yourself becoming drowsy, or you may end up falling asleep on your mat (which I have totally done, and it was amazing… but so is bed).
This is what has helped me, I hope it can help you too. If there is anything that you do that I missed let me know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Do not use this information as a replacement for medical treatment from health care professionals, but in addition to. Essential oils can work differently for different people (like traditional medications), so it is best to try them in smaller quantities first. If you are considering a magnesium supplement talk to a health care professional about which supplement would be best for you.