Hello friends! I’m so excited to be writing this blog post today. It’s been a while since I posted because I was working on my Meal Planning Guide. While that was going on, things were pretty stressful. I set a short timeline for myself because I just wanted to get it done. And then once it was done, there was the sales week to deal with. While I’ll write more about that later, today I wanted to write a bit more about something that affects me a lot during stressful times like the past couple weeks: sleep.
Sleep is really important to me (I need 8 hours of good sleep every night to be functional), but it’s not something that comes super easily to me. I used to be able to sleep anywhere, any time, but for some reason that has changed in the past 5 years or so. It happens pretty frequently that I’ll feel entirely exhausted and so ready to go to bed, but then once my head hits the pillow my eyes are wide open and I feel entirely awake.
When this happens, it totally sucks.
I can usually tell right away if I am going to sleep that night or not. When it felt like I wasn’t going to be able to sleep, I used to try to just push that feeling aside, squeeze my eyes shut, and force sleep on myself. As you probably know, this doesn’t usually work.
I would end up lying there with my mind going 1,000 miles a minute, usually thinking about the same thing over and over and over again like a broken record player. And then I would toss and turn all night until I fell asleep around 1 or 2 in the morning, only to be woken up by AJ’s alarm clock at 5. Really lame.
This used to happen sporadically for me whenever I had a really stressful day or something, but a few years ago it got really bad. I had just graduated college and I was working the 5 am shift at a job I just wasn’t happy about – front desk at a local gym. I went for three months with just a few good nights’ sleep, and then quit the job out of exhaustion and depression.
Since then, I’ve taken sleeping really seriously. I make sure to get my 8 hours every night, and I am so much happier for it. But even with a job I am much happier with, I still get days that are really stressful and that threaten to keep me up at night. So, I’ve found a few things that, when used in combination, can almost guarantee me a good night’s sleep.
How to sleep better and get a good night’s sleep
1: Stop using your electronic devices an hour before you want to fall asleep
This one is really big for me. I’ve found that if I stay up working on my computer until just before I go to sleep, my chances of falling asleep quickly are zero to none. However, if I make sure to shut down my computer and stay away from my phone for the most part about an hour before bed time then I sleep much better.
One exception to this rule is e-readers. I read on a tablet and it doesn’t seem to keep me up at all – but this is only true if I use a dark background. I set my Kindle app to have white text with a black background for every book I read. When I use black text on a white background, it’ll keep me up just like a computer would.
2: Start writing in a journal
This is a recent one for me, but I’ve been loving the results. Keeping a journal has never been something that I really wanted to do nor felt was necessary – it just seemed like a waste of time. However, Bjork recently mentioned that he writes in something called the 5 Minute Journal every day, so I looked into it a bit.
The journal claims to boost happiness, make you sleep better, and help you meet your goals in just 5 minutes every day. One thing is for sure – it does only take 5 minutes every day. The other claims aren’t things that you can verify after just a couple weeks, but I do feel that committing to writing in it every single night has helped me sleep better. Writing just a few short sentences out to answer the two questions “What 3 amazing things happened today?” and “What could I have done to make today better?” allows me to get negative thoughts and worries out of my head before I try to go to bed.
I really feel that this has helped me sleep better, and it’s something I plan on doing from now on.
3: Drink a warm drink
For some reason this one really works for me. Since I discovered this, I’ve been able to sleep better at least 75% of the time. My drink of choice is tea. I love to make a tea, then go sit in bed and write in my 5 Minute Journal.
There’s something about a warm tea that helps me calm my mind and turn off the broken record player that keeps me up. Lately, I’ve been particularly liking the Lipton Orange Passionfruit Jasmine tea. It’s got this awesome orangey aroma that relaxes me just by smelling it.
I also like the Lipton herbal teas, especially their peach mango. When I find a tea I like then I tend to stick to it, so it’s really nice that these ones are available in nearly every grocery store I’ve checked. They have a ton of other good flavors, just make sure to not drink anything with too much caffeine in it (I stay away from the black teas at night, though I do love a chai latte in the morning!).
4: Read something relatively boring
Sorry, guys – your suspense novels are out. I’ve found that when I read anything exciting, all it does is serve to turn my brain more on, and even if I don’t go to bed thinking about the novel, my brain will still keep me up. I’ve found that informational, non-fiction content works best to help turn my brain off. It also has the added benefit of helping me learn. Here are some things I’ve read recently that help me sleep:
Bon Appetit magazine
Food & Wine magazine
Essentialism by Greg McKoewn
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The Edible Front Yard
As I mentioned, feel free to read on an electronic device, but make sure it’s on a black background with white text.
5: Use an OTC sleep aid
This was something I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to do when I saw it, but at the time I was desperate for sleep and was willing to do just about anything to get it. I found ZzzQuil at the pharmacy one day and decided to give it a shot. I was amazed by the results. The first night I used it was one of those nights that I put my head to the pillow and tossed and turned for an hour and a half. I got up and decided to take it, and the rest of the night was history.
Because I prefer to fall asleep naturally, I still looked for other methods that would help me sleep better. When I use the four techniques above, especially the tea, I find that I don’t need to use ZzzQuil nearly as often as I used to. Now I use ZzzQuil only once or twice per month, which is a ton less often than I used to! But when those nights come around and nothing else is doing the trick, I’ll turn to ZzzQuil and it helps me turn the mental lights off.
The value of sleeping better
Doing the first four things has improved my sleep so dramatically in the past year. There are still some nights that I don’t sleep the best, but these are few and far between.
I notice that when get in 8 hours of good sleep in, I feel more alive in the morning (despite getting up at 5 am), I’m more productive throughout the day, and I’m just happier in general. I think AJ appreciates it, too, since I’m not tossing and turning all night.
I know these four things can’t be the only things that help get a good night’s sleep, so tell me – what are the things you do to sleep better at night? Share them in the comments!
I was selected to promote Lipton Tea through Clever Girls. However, the opinions in this blog post are all my own. I personally use an love the Lipton teas I talked about in this post, and was really excited to share my passion for them with you.