How to Rest If You’re an Insomniac
For many people, the main reason they are mentally and/or physically exhausted can all come down to issues with sleep. If you are an insomniac, there are steps that you can take to get rest and hopefully reverse your situation.
Seek Medical Assistance
The very first thing anyone with insomnia should do is make a doctor’s appointment to talk about the issues. It might help to track the situation using a device like an Oura Ring so that you can show your doctor your records. But you can also just write things down, so you don’t forget what to talk about with your doctor.
Your doctor should take you seriously and not just automatically prescribe drugs to help you sleep. Even though that might be a short-term answer, it is not a long-term solution. Your doctor will do a complete blood work-up to ensure that you are doing well nutritionally. If you have low iron, B12, or D, these can cause anxiety and insomnia in some people.
The times you wake up can also indicate what may be going on in your body. The below graphic is from Chinese Medicine and gives us insight to our bodies. Look to see where you may need more support. Notice that most of the issues in the middle of the night have to do with Detox?
Another area to address are the emotions. In staying with the Chinese Clock, a couple to point out are liver and lung. Liver is most associated with anger and lungs are grief.
Turn Your Bedroom into a Fortress
This is a great excuse to redo your bedroom. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary made for sleeping. Your bed should be the most comfortable and organic that you can afford to buy, along with the sheets and blankets that you use on it. Remember, we are spending 1/3 of our life on top of this!
You may need to test out a few mattresses, but you usually want something that is firmer than you might have thought.
You can buy good organic sheets less expensively than you might think if you know what type of sheets you like. Check on Overstock.com and Amazon to find good prices on well-made sheets and look for the certified GOTS seal. For blankets, choose layers of blankets instead of one heavy comforter. That way you can adjust as needed for the time of year.
Invest in blackout shades for your windows. You can get them made for your windows at places like Home Depot or Lowe's. They are well worth it. Even if you have a rule with your HOA that they should be white on the back, you can still get blackout shades that will enable you to sleep better at night. Our bodies need the darkness to trigger natural melatonin release.
Keep your thermostat set properly. Studies have shown that we get our best sleep somewhere between 64-68 degrees F. Having a fan to circulate the air is also helpful, especially if you are in menopause. I found this to be extremely beneficial for good sleep when I was at my worst symptoms. If it’s nice outside, try opening your window about an hour before you go to bed, but close it if you can when you go to bed so outside noises don’t interfere (unless you’re lucky enough to live where it’s super-quiet or you have the sound of the ocean to lull you to sleep).
Additionally, invest in very comfortable, natural sleeping attire or sleep naked to avoid anything getting in the way of your comfort and help your body breathe at night. If you or your partner snore, consider using comfortable earplugs to help further block the sound. (Hint: parents of young children can take turns so every other night at least one parent gets a full night of sleep.)
Turn Off the Lights and Electronics
The darker you can make your room, the better. But, once the sun goes down outside, it’s important to make the house dimmer too. You want to turn off all electronics at least an hour or two before you go to bed, so that your body gets used to the idea that it's bedtime. That includes your TV, your computer, and your mobile device. This is probably the hardest one for insomniacs to deal with, but it’s very important for your health to disconnect.
If you’re nervous that something is going to happen to anyone if you’re not there immediately, understand that long before there were cell phones there were parents. Of course, you’re going to want to be available to your kids if they’re teenagers, but that’s what curfews are about and that’s why people have two parents. Ask for help and take turns. If you do not have children living at home, you really don’t need to be available 24/7 to anyone most of the time. Anyone who has something to say to you, even if something bad happens, can be dealt with in the morning. If you must have a cell phone in the bedroom for whatever reason, keep it at least 15 feet away from where you are sleeping and turn off all notifications.
Try it for at least 30 days. You’ll see after that time that you’re not in charge of the world, and no one needs to bother you about anything when you’re sleeping. If you have elderly parents, share the job with your siblings with each of you having assigned "on call" times or something like that so that everyone can get sleep. Remember, you cannot take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Start a Bedtime Ritual
A great way to ensure that you get more sleep is to create a bedtime ritual. Since you already need to turn electronics off and turn down the lights, think of something you can do that doesn’t require either. For example, soft slow stretches, meditation, a hot bath, taking care of your hygiene such as by brushing and flossing your teeth, doing a facial, applying lotion, and other activities.
Think about how babies go to sleep. Mom and Dad create a ritual around bedtime. They get a bath, a quiet story, cuddles, comfy clothing, and clean bed, and soft blankets. All of this starts well before bedtime and helps the child calm down, so that when you sit down in bed to read they usually fall asleep fast if not with the first book, then by the third. You should do the same thing for yourself.
Do the same things nightly to help you sleep such as stretching, bathing, applying lotion, dressing for bed, and reading something positive. Bedtime is not the time to read anything upsetting, scary, or even exciting. Use that time to read uplifting or thoughtful poetry, history, or something that keeps your heart rate low.
Use essential oils
I have found essential oils to be extremely beneficial in my sleep and nighttime routines. When combined with a nightly ritual, essential oils can give you the warm, fuzzy feelings you need for a restful night of sweet slumbers. Let's break down how essential oils work in very basics.
1. Each oil has a unique combination of constituents, and every combination lends itself to a different use.
2. Receptors are proteins that specifically bind with different types of molecules to facilitate chemical communication within our bodies. You have millions of receptors on your body, but we want to focus on your sensory and thermoreceptors, because they’re the ones involved in touch, taste, and smell. When compounds in essential oils bind to receptors, they trigger specific effects in our bodies depending on the oil’s constituents and how you’ve applied it—topically or aromatically.
3. Of all the senses, essential oils affect your sense of smell the most. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the sense of smell is one of the first senses humans developed. From the beginning, humans have used their olfactory sense—science’s fancy way of saying sense of smell—to identify food, potential mating partners, dangers, enemies, and more. For most living creatures, smell is a key way we interact with our environment.
So how many receptors are dedicated to the olfactory sense? You’ll find a whopping 100 million or more receptors packed into an area about 2.5 square centimeters! No wonder essential oils are crazy good at stirring certain emotions or specific memories—you have all those olfactory receptors just waiting to send signals to your brain!
So which ones can you use for sleep? Here is a list of some of my favorites:
- Roman Chamomile
- Ylang Ylang
- Clary Sage
- Peace & Calming
Have you tried using essential oils?
Finally, you really need to make time for sleep. Set a daily schedule for your life and stick to it. Sleep is one of the most important factors in your schedule. You should be able to get everything you need to do done daily and still sleep at least seven to eight hours a night. But, it may require you to learn to say no, because it’s that important to your health and your daily energy levels.
Make sure you are doing your best to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. This is crucial for your body to get into a rhythm. Studies have shown that for every hour you sleep prior to midnight, it's the equivalent to getting two hours sleep!
Stay tuned next week as we wrap up this series in our blog with how to add more pep to your step!
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