Here’s a little-known fact: I’ve suffered from debilitating anxiety and insomnia most of my life. This is especially difficult given an active schedule, jam-packed with fitness classes and a full work day. It wasn’t uncommon for me to toss and turn for hours in frustration, emerging the next morning in a bleary, red-eyed haze and having to sneak naps in my car at lunch hour. As I’ve progressed in my life journey, I’ve developed a personal toolkit to get my good night’s sleep. If you’ve ever struggled through a bout of sleeplessness, I hope these tips help you to get the rest that you need and deserve.
Cut the caffeine. If you’re caffeine-sensitive like me, figure out your time to cut off consumption. Studies show that caffeine peaks in your body about 45-60 minutes after consumption, has a half-life of roughly four hours, and takes about eight hours to completely get through your system. I cut myself off after 3:00 pm so I have enough time to process before bed. After that, I drink tea or sip on hot water. What’s especially helpful to induce relaxation? Chamomile tea with a dash of honey. Just be sure not to drink too much or you’ll disrupt your slumber up in the middle of the night to use the restroom!
Ease off the tech. Yes, this is just as difficult as it seems. Now what else is there possibly left to do if you can’t fiddle on Instagram? Try reading a book or magazine, writing in your journal, or doing some light stretching. If you really can’t part with your phone, do your thing, but change the screen to a softly-lit “night shift” setting.
Plan it out. I have found that my sleep is disturbed if I have a big meeting or nerve-wracking event the following day. To minimize worries, I do my best to prepare the night before by penning my to-do list, assembling my meals, setting out clothes, and gathering belongings near the door. Just knowing that everything is ready for me to zip out the door in an organized manner helps calm the nerves. Plus, all that prep allows for a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning.
Chill in silence. Meditation helped me find inner strength and clarity, and is a welcomed “chill-pill” after a chaotic day. Focus on breathing to soothe the nervous system. Take a few minutes to sit in darkness and slowly breathe in silence. Imagine that you are breathing in positive energy and breathing out any fears, stressors, or challenges. Even better, try a guided meditation. There are plenty of phone apps and website (although if you decide to use, see my “night shift” screen tip above). My favorite is a themed series from yogi Bee Bosnak.
Stay consistent. I don’t change up my sleep and wake times much, and as a result my internal clock is fine-tuned to tell me when I’m tired and when I’m ready to awaken. I’ve found that seven hours of sleep is ideal for me, so I carve out that amount of time whenever possible. I’m also consistent with my surroundings: a cool room, my warm fleece blanket, and a fuzzy eye mask. My brain and body know to get into “sleep mode” when I give certain cues.
While I still have a sleepless night now and then, I’m grateful that those days are mostly a thing of the past. I admit that it has taken some self-reflection (and professional help) to get to this point. Insomnia is serious business, and I know how difficult it can make everyday life. Feel free to contact me to learn more about how I’ve coped. But for now, it’s time for me to sign off and get some shut-eye.