How To Sleep Well At Night
A couple months ago I started having some rough sleep troubles. It was so exhausting and frustrating. It wasn’t just that I was anxious, although I’m sure that was part of it, but it felt like a brain or chemical thing. My body just wanted to keep waking up and chillin while I was like, “NO! Time to SLEEP!”.
I found myself, laying in bed at 3:30am, googling, “I can’t fall asleep” or “How to fall asleep at night” or even “sleep hypnosis”. I was scrounging the internet for anything and everything that could just let me SLEEP.
I tried some apps, sleep machines etc and even had a BOMB sleep routine…but, alas, my sleep was not consistent.
For me, I am not quite sure what the causes were since I didn’t do any testing. Personally, I think it had to do with my going off some medication that was an SSRI. I don’t think my doctor weaned me off of it properly so I think my body’s serotonin levels were out of wack, but that is just my very amateur guess. I did end up seeing a sleep specialist (I finally got in AFTER this all began to get better though haha). He said that it sounded like it had to do with the medicine withdrawals. However, I’m not here to talk about my diagnosis. I’m here to share what helped me so that perhaps if you are here reading this at 3am, you too can find some hope and help.
I had taken melatonin when I needed it since high school and that worked great for me. However, melatonin was not even touching this new sleep trouble issue of mine. I still found myself waking up many times in the night. It felt like my circadian rhythm was very confused despite my sleep routine. Anyway, after some late night/early morning research and a desperate call to my on-call nurse, I decided to try out Valerian Root. You can get it here: https://amzn.to/2xEOr8J
The Valerian root really helped me. When I was buying it at the store, the woman helping me told me that the dropper is apparently more helpful and quick to help because it’s liquid whereas the dry or tablet form may take longer to work. Basically, you put a dropper or so in some water or juice and down it. I recommend gulping it pretty quickly.
I also used the CALM supplement. For this one, I’m not as sure how effective it was. Maybe it really helps or maybe it was the Valerian or placebo but I also took this supplement in combination with Valerian and it helped. I would take the CALM supplement a couple hours before bed. It doesn’t really make you that tired in my experience and I didn’t take a lot of it (just like 1-2 tablespoons max) because I felt like it was doing weird things to my digestion with all the magnesium or something. This one you can take more in advance because it is more of a relaxer. I didn’t notice it a whole lot, but I don’t think it hurt anything (except don’t take a lot or you’ll feel weirdddd downstairs…enough said) so maybe it will work for you! You can purchase it here: https://amzn.to/2JqakPL
A Routine That is Tailored to YOU
Chances are, if you’ve had some sleep troubles, you too have googled tips on the good ole internet and have been told things to do to make you relax. Thing is, it’s different for everyone. For example, for me, if I read before bed, I’ll be up for a longg time and be super wired. However, if I watch some TV, I’ll calm down. The internet mainly says that I should read and not watch TV before bed but that just doesn’t work for me. So, what I have learned for myself is this:
If I can help it, I won’t look at my computer past 9:45pm. I learned in college last year that studying and studying, especially while staring at my computer screen, makes me WIRED and revved. Studying till I go to bed is just not good for my sleep hygiene. It makes my mind circle with thoughts of what I was studying and it’s hard to slow those thoughts down. So, when I was in school and now for work, I close my laptop by 9:40/9:45pm. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, but it’s my aim.
I would take Valerian (now, I’ll take some melatonin because Valerian gets expensive haha) around 9:45pm too but depending on when I want to go to bed.
Then, I like to shower at night. For me, the time of showering doesn’t really affect me too much as long as I feel clean and I take a warm shower at some point that night. Again, sometimes I’m at a friend’s or something and I don’t shower but this is my usual routine. If I’m in for the night, I’ll put on my PJs and some comfy, fuzzy socks to tell my body that I’m getting cozy.
A little before bed (usually around when I close my computer), I’ll turn off a lot of my lights. I LOVE lamp lighting. It feels so much cozier than overhead lights. At least 30 minutes to an hour before bed, I’ll start dimming the lights. So, I’ll just have a lamp on in the living room and just my string lights in my room. I only do this at night so my body knows it’s winding down. Of course, with roommates, you can’t always expect this, but it is my ideal situation.
Shortly before bed, I like to watch some TV that will relax me (so nothing too scary or dramatic for me!). Right now, I am loving to wind down with New Girl. Some past wind-down shows have been Parenthood, One Tree Hill, and Fresh off the Boat.
After I feel myself feeling sleepy and like I could fall asleep, I’ll spend some time journaling, reading the Bible, and praying. Often, I’ll do this before I watch TV because I feel more coherent haha. Telling God my thoughts and lifting them up to Him, reading the Bible and being reminded of TRUTH, and then rejoicing in who God is, thanking Him for who He is and what He has blessed me with, and then asking Him for a great night’s sleep and presenting my requests to Him is often what it looks like. Again, sometimes I say a couple words and go to bed. Other times I feel sad or confused or stressed and my prayers look different.
I am an avid journaler and I love this one from Target (see the pic below because i couldn’t find it online). This past year, I started doing two separate journals—one for more prayer journaling and the other for hopes and fears each day. This way, I can look back and see how God answered prayers both big and small. I have really loved doing it because it’s really helped me to see how much God IS alive and working even in the “little” and big things alike. It’s so easy to forget what our hopes and wishes are once they are answered so this has helped me to see how often God does that and to thank Him for it.
Before I lay down for bed, it helps me to just talk to God and write down the thoughts in my head and then surrender them to Him. It’s really hard to do and is easier said than done, but when I was having awful trouble sleeping, it really caused me to rely on God more. I can’t sleep or slow my thoughts and anxiety on my own. I need Him. And, even when I have an awful night’s sleep (still happens sometimes!), I can rely and trust that He’s got me. I can ask Him for the energy I need because ultimately He is my strength and is bigger than sleep.
So, this is what has helped me. I can write a post about HOW I figured this out if you would be interested in that. Let me know in the comments section if you would like that! :)
Now, after doing the Valerian and CALM and trying to stick to a sleep rhythm, I sleep a lot better now. Sure, I’ll have an off night here or there, but I sleep through the night more regularly!
I truly believe that God brings us through things that are hard (like feeling jet-lagged constantly from not sleeping well) to teach us things and to bring His glory and good out of it. He has! Now, I have been able to share this with others and it has shown me how He is greater than sleep. I really need to rely on Him more than even these supplements because He is the Healer and He is bigger!!
Sleep well, golden gals xoxo