As someone who has had lifelong problems sleeping, I know firsthand the frustration that comes with not getting your beauty sleep.
But there’s a silver lining.
All those years of not being able to sleep well and trying different things have helped me slowly improve my sleep life over time.
Now that I’m nearing my 30s and live with my husband, my sleep life has dramatically improved thanks to these five habits I’ve cultivated over the years.
1. No Tech in the Bedroom
My husband and I just keep our bedroom for sleeping (and sex, of course). This means we don’t hang out in there during the day, don’t work in there, and don’t watch TV in there. It’s important to us to not have a TV in our bedroom.
We also don’t bring our laptops into the bedroom either. We do, however, bring our phones, but they are solely for alarm purposes, we never look on our phones in the bed or use them while in the bedroom. My phone is off in the bedroom since I don’t need to wake up at a specific time most days and my husband’s is on airplane mode (scary cell phone radiation, anyone?)
This just our personal philosophy but we don’t want to accumulate a bunch of energy in the bedroom, especially before bed. We find that minimizing our activity in the bedroom and keeping tech out of the bedroom helps the space feel calm and ready for sleep.
2. No Sugar or Caffeine Before Bed
I’ve noticed that I sleep a lot better when doing intermittent fasting, which is how I lost the few pounds I wanted to before my wedding.
I chose to do intermittent fasting by not eating for a period of about 16 hours every day. So essentially, I would eat my regular meals throughout the day, but cut out late night snacks. So I would not eat from about 8 p.m. at night to noon the next day.
This also helped me eliminate sugar and caffeine a few hours before bed. This is a practice I started doing years ago when I found that eating these things at night—think desserts, chocolate, coffee, or even caffeinated tea such as green tea—would make it impossible for me to fall asleep.
3. Using Organic Bedding
I did not realize how much a toxic mattress was killing my sleep life.
A few years ago I realized conventional mattresses are made with dangerous chemicals and can give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for years after purchase, which can harm your health and the air quality of your home.
Fortunately, the mattress I had at that time was about a decade old and needed to be replaced, so about a year before our wedding, my husband and I invested in an all-organic mattress. We also chose to invest in organic cotton sheet sets, pillows, and a comforter.
Not only is my organic mattress and bedding so much more comfortable and luxurious than my old bedding (and hella more expensive!), I swear it helps me sleep better knowing I’m not being exposed to toxic chemicals.
4. The Military Sleep Trick
So I know this one is weird but I swear it works! It was developed to help soldiers fall asleep anywhere in less than two minutes.
It’s easy and can be done in three simple steps as you are trying to fall asleep:
- Relax your entire body including your facial muscles as you sink into the mattress. Let tension go from places you didn’t realize were tense.
- Take ten deep, conscious breaths while keeping your mind clear. For me, if my mind begins to run with a thought, I start over.
- Do one of the following three things that most resonates with you:
- Picture yourself lying in a canoe on a calm lake with only blue sky above you
- Imagine snuggling in a velvet black hammock in a pitch-black room
- Repeating “don’t think, don’t think” until you fall asleep
I do the canoe one; if I have trouble sleeping, most nights this helps me fall asleep.
5. No Clock in the Bedroom
We actually don’t have a clock in our bedroom. I haven’t had a clock in my bedroom for the last 12 years.
Looking at the time when I’m trying to fall asleep gives me anxiety so I just don’t see the need to have a clock in our bedroom. Fortunately, I’m a freelancer who works from home so I get to sleep in every single day and don’t need to worry about what time I get up.
Even when you do need to wake up in the morning I recommend setting your alarm and turning your phone on airplane mode and not looking at your phone until the alarm goes off. My husband and I have found this practice super helpful (especially since he needs to wake up in the morning and I don’t).
I’ve found that exercise plays a huge role in whether or not I sleep well. Usually, regular exercise helps me sleep so much better!
I run but I also lift weights and do yoga on occasion. I also walk a four-mile loop with my neighbor several times a week. Staying active not only relieves stress but helps me fall asleep easier and stay asleep.
7. Addressing My Health Issues
So, of course, many of you know my crazy misdiagnosis story which led me to a wild and wonderful journey of hard lessons in learning how to take care of myself.
I’ve been tested for food intolerances and have eliminated gluten, dairy, genetically modified food, and commercial meat from my diet. I’ve found that, in general, my body doesn’t respond well to grains and so I lead a mostly grain-free diet.
I’m also super sensitive to caffeine and sugar and so keep these very minimal in my diet as well. I’ve worked with numerous herbalists who have helped me to address my minor health issues and supplement my diet so I feel better and live a much more harmonious life these days.
Sleep Is Not Separate
I can usually get to sleep quickly now provided I follow all these guidelines that I’ve naturally incorporated into my routine over the last few years.
Sleep is not separate from the rest of our lives. I’ve found that by considering the effect of my diet and lifestyle on my sleep, I can better care for myself to get that essential good night’s rest!
Do you have any sleep tips that you’ve found have been super helpful?