I used to think natural ways to sleep better were a joke. Warm milk? Yeah, right. Changing the temperature in the room? It didn’t do a whole lot. When I had trouble sleeping–which used to be a lot–sometimes I’d just suffer and wake up ticked off about how little sleep I got the night before and how I had just fallen asleep before my alarm went off, and sometimes I’d pop some Tylenol PM. Somewhere along the way, I’ve become the person who falls asleep almost as soon as her head hits the pillow.
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I’ve learned how to sleep better and fall asleep faster. I’ve even learned how to sleep better with anxiety.
6 Natural Ways to Sleep Better
Here are some my tips to help you get some sleep:
Write Everything Down
Y’all are probably going to get sick of hearing (seeing?) me say to write things down, but seriously, it’s the best thing you can do for your mind. It keeps your brain from feeling like it has to juggle all these tidbits of information. Did you know your short-term memory can only hold seven things at a time? But even that’s a challenge. How many things can a piece of paper–or several pieces of paper–hold that you can refer back to later? Take a load off your brain and write down tomorrow’s to-do list and all the random thoughts you have bouncing around in your head at the beginning or end of your morning routine.
A Warm, Calming Beverage
Wine every now and then is okay and it may even help you fall asleep. For me, it helps me fall asleep but my sleep quality suffers. I prefer something like chamomile tea or the Four Sigmatic Chai Latte Mushroom Mix (caffeine-free). Chamomile tea is a classic, but you could really go with any herbal tea you like the taste of without adding sugar.
The Chai Latte Mushroom Mix really blew all other cozy nighttime drinks out of the water for me, though. I still like the hot cacao but the sweet, gentle spiciness of this one makes it even more comforting. Click the Four Sigmatic link above and you’ll save $10.00 on your first order. You can use my Four Sigmatic coupon code: thatoldkitchentable to save 10 percent on any order.
A Nighttime Routine
This can be whatever you want to make it. It’s just a habit that lets your mind and body know it’s time to wind down for the night. I like mine to be quick and I wish I could even skip parts of it because when I’m ready to hop in bed with a book, I’m ready to do it right away.
So my nighttime routine is: drink water, go upstairs, wash face, brush teeth, floss, get in the bed, read, pray. I’m usually already in my pajamas by that point, anyway. Sometimes I might add something to this routine, but this usually does it for me.
You could add: Face mask, bubble bath, putting lotion on your body, rubbing cuticle oil around your nails, 100 strokes of brushing your hair (that’s kind of a joke), or really anything else that relaxes you. If your significant other wants to give you a massage, even better!
What not to do: Scroll through Facebook, look at the news, remind yourself of that stupid thing you said in 1999… That’s definitely not how to get to sleep better with anxiety. If you do find your thoughts going that way, divert them to something positive.
Affirmations Before Bed
You probably know that I’m big on affirmations. I used to think those were kind of a silly practice, or at least something that only other people did. When I was feeling particularly lost and anxious, I decided I had nothing to lose and made a list of them to go over each day. I’ve found that they do wonders for my mindset and life in general when used regularly.
Try doing some affirmations about how well you sleep before you turn in for the night (and maybe even throughout the day). The goal is to focus on what you DO want (an amazing night’s sleep) rather than what you DON’T (another night of insomnia).
I received a free copy of Sleep Affirmations: 200 Phrases for a Deep and Peaceful Sleep by Jennifer Williamson and it’s packed with affirmations to get you started. Skip around to find one that sounds good to you before you try to sleep. Say it to yourself a few times and sit in silence, just soaking in the idea behind it (that you can/will/do sleep well).
You might even try writing it out in the same place you journaled or wrote out your to-do list. Sometimes this reinforces the idea as well. You have to do it in your own handwriting, though, for it to work as well as it can.
This book isn’t just 200+ pages of “I can sleep tonight.” Instead, it approaches the sleep issue from several different angles and soothes some of the thoughts that could be running through your mind as your head hits the pillow. It addresses things like money worries (“I am connected to endless abundance” on page 103), change (“I welcome change,” page 58), and all the times you may have told yourself that you just can’t sleep (“Sleep is a miracle that is available to me,” page 79).
Each affirmation has a paragraph with it to expand upon the idea and belief that you can and will sleep well.
Skip television shows (or at least turn the TV off early) and read for entertainment. The light from the television, laptop, tablet, or cell phone can throw off your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep. Now, I don’t know how many people could realistically get to bed at dusk and I don’t personally want to change all the lightbulbs in my house to dim red ones for nighttime (the circadian rhythm article above mentions that this could be helpful), but switching the screens for a book–maybe not The Handmaid’s Tale–a mistake I made once) is something I could definitely do.
I recommend choosing something light that holds your interest but won’t tempt you to stay up all night to see “whodunnit.” I can pretty much read anything for up to 30 minutes and be ready to turn off the light. My husband, on the other hand, has to limit himself to comic books most of the time because it gives him a stopping point that’s not 4 a.m. He’ll read a comic for 15-20 minutes or a really good book all night, so he has to be picky.
Lavender Oil or Serenity Essential Oil Blend
Use a lavender-scented oil on your skin or in a diffuser to promote relaxation and encourage a good night’s sleep. I like to put a few drops of lavender oil in my diffuser or add it to coconut oil if I’m moisturizing my body. My favorite blend for relaxation, though (I put it on my palms and then fall asleep with my hands near my face) is Serenity. You could even mix up a relaxing spray for your bedding and spritz it on your sheets each night as part of your nightly routine.
What are your favorite natural ways to sleep better?