Tossing around, having mini existential crises, and overthinking plague me at night, especially when I’m anxious or overtired. Since college, I’ve learned that my stress manifests into insomnia. I find myself wired beyond repair, often up till 6 am humming and hawing about what I should eat for breakfast tomorrow, did I drink enough water today, and when will I ever go to freakin’ sleep?!
Normally, I love bedtime – I’m a pretty good sleeper when I’m feeling good. But when I begin to experience anxiety, it’s a completely different story. Going to bed and lying in silence seems terrifying to me. Not to mention that I’ve been experiencing sleep paralysis since high school, which adds another scary layer to this whole mess.
As you may know, I’m in the process of clearing my panic disorder. It’s been a tough journey but I’m super positive about the process. You can read more in-depth about it here. Getting a good night’s rest is a huge part of it all, and I felt that shut-eye deserved it’s very own post. Bedtime struggles can happen to all of us from time to time, but when we sleep better, we feel better, we live better. After some very scientific research (not), here are some tried & tested (by me) ways that help me sleep! These were game changers for me, so I hope that they can help you in some way, shape or form:
1. Calm’s “Sleep Stories”
I’m putting this as number one because THIS IS EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE (and deserving of all caps). The meditation app I use, Calm, has an excellent library of sleep stories to choose from. On the app, they explain why these sleep stories work, and also bring up the wonderful point of why storytelling can help us relax even as adults – not just children. The stories are calm and relaxing, and the narrators speak softly. Apparently this is a part of “sleep hypnosis”, as the stories tend to get repetitive and that’s why they are able to lull you to sleep. But my oh my do they work. I can’t stress this enough. On top of it all, they put my nighttime overthinking to a halt because I get so focused on the story, plus I don’t have to fall asleep in silence (which I hate).
I’ve been listening to the same sleep story (The Waterfall) for the entire week and I can barely stay awake in the first 2 minutes. I don’t even know what the story is even about to be honest. They. Are. That. Good.
2. A Diffuser + Essential Oils
I purchased this inexpensive diffuser from Amazon last week, and I’m so in love with it. I use a lavender essential oil at night to set a relaxing tone at bedtime. It’s a nice way to unwind after a long day. Plus, I love how it looks on my nightstand. It’s too cute!
3. Creating a Calming Space + Keeping Tidy
Keeping your room tidy and clean is a big part of getting a good night’s rest. Without getting too hippie dippie on ya, I believe that it’s easy to absorb the energy your room gives off. If your room is dirty or unruly, I really think this is an easy source of stress for a lot of people. When your room is neat, you are able to go to bed with less worries, plus wake up knowing you got (at least some) of your shit together.
Creating a calm space is also important! When I designed my new room, it was important to me to keep it calm. I minimalized my space and decluttered a ton, only keeping the things that “Spark Joy”. I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method to anyone who wants to streamline their space. I feel so much calmer and really enjoy spending time in my room because of it. It makes me feel much more at ease when it’s bedtime too.
4. Wear Pajamas
I’ve never been a “free t-shirt and gym shorts” kind of person. And by that I mean I’m a BIG pajama wearer. I read an Arianna Huffington article about sleep, and she also encouraged wearing pajamas, suggesting to keep clothes that you only wear for bedtime. Apart from this being more hygienic, I think the thought of slipping into PJ’s makes bedtime a lot more inviting.
5. Turn the Brightness Down – or – make your screen orange
This one was tough for me cause I love to turn my brightness all the way up, to the point where it’s pretty much blinding to other people. I have a chrome extension called “screen shader” on my computer as well as a night time option on my phone. It helps filter out the blue light that is proven to keep us awake.
There’s no real clear formula as to how to get a good night’s sleep, but from experience I know that a bedtime routine is absolutely essential. I would love to hear what helps you relax at bedtime so please share if you have any other suggestions!