What I Use for A Great Night's Sleep
For me, the easiest way to get a good night's sleep is by creating good sleep hygiene. And I don't mean hygiene like: "Take a shower before bed." Sleep hygiene means creating a series of habits that lead to a good night's sleep, which is so critically important. Read my post "Why Sleep is So Important."
Many times this simply means setting a bed time and sticking to it. The biggest issue I always have with this comes when the summer months get here. It's still light out at 8pm and so easy to stay up, but I know that I need to start getting ready for bed because that 4:30am alarm comes early! So, instead, I'm sharing some of my favorite things that I use for a good night's sleep!
1. Weighted Blanket - I'm in love with this thing. I had been seeing people mention that they slept with a weighted blanket and I thought "There's no way that that isn't incredibly hot." But it is not! I can honestly say that this is my favorite purchase this entire year. There's too much to say in this post so I wrote a whole entire other post about it - We Tried It: Weighted Blankets
2. Magnesium - I take two capsules every night before I go to bed, religiously. Without getting too Bill Nye on you, magnesium helps regulate neurotransmitters, specifically GABA, which helps aid in good quality sleep. But for me, I use magnesium at night because for two reasons: I have terrible restless leg syndrome. You know that itchy, twitchy, gotta-move-your-legs-feeling? Yeah, it's terrible, but especially when you're a runner and you felt like all you did that day was move. I find that taking two magnesium capsules at night helps calm that down exponentially. Magnesium, by increasing GABA, also promotes calm and a reduction in anxiety, two things I need as much of as I can get.
3. Gaba Calm -Just as I mentioned before, I need a little extra help in the anxiety reduction department. I love GABA because, unlike Benadryl or any of the PM sleep medicines, I find that I immediately fall asleep and I don't wake up groggy at all. That's because those medications contain antihistamines, with drowsiness as a side effect. GABA is a neurotransmitter and it's role is to slow down neuron excitability, leaving you calmer and more relaxed. GABA is also responsible for your deep levels of sleep - REM sleep - and having adequate levels of GABA in your body is absolutely essential for that "stay asleep" effect. I'm also a terrible sleep-taker, which my friends can begrudgingly relate to, and I find that this has cut that down tremendously!
4 & 5. Essential Oils / Diffuser - Essential oils have been making a surge in popularity recently, and I feel like there's a reason why! I personally love the Young Living brand because their oils are thick, diffuse beautifully, and have long lasting scents, but they can be costly! These are some of my favorite scents from other brands, but I love the calming scents of peppermint, lavender and chamomile. Bonus points if it has some sandalwood in the blend because I think I'm a hippie at heart.
6. Lavender Spray - I'm a scent lover, what can I say? Spray something, make it smell good and I'm a believer. This particular brand comes in a bunch of different scents and it's all natural, so it's safe to put your face in every night.
7. Sleep Mask - Did I mention I go to bed before the sun goes down? I did, right? Well, your body clock might not realize it is time for bed and, if you're like me, my bedroom gets lots of natural light. So, the easiest way to block the sun out is a super soft, silky eye mask.
8. Sleepy Time Tea - I find that the GABA/Magnesium combo is usually more than enough for me, but I do keep some sleepy time, camomile tea on hand for the days when I'm just not ready to go to bed just yet. Sometimes a coffee mug of warm tea is exactly what hits the spot - although, warm anything in the summer right now is tough.
9. Meditation Journals - One thing I have started doing is keeping a journal. I don't write a lot about my day, but I do try to keep a gratitude journal. Especially with everything that is negative going on in the news right now, I find that I like to sit and write 2-3 things down that I'm thankful for each day. Sometimes, they're silly: "My PTerry's milkshake was delicious." Other times they're thankful: "I'm grateful for strong legs that crushed a long run workout today." Regardless, I find that journaling at night is a cathartic experience and allows me to flush out my busy brain. Working on the blog gives me a ton of creative freedom, but it's also a curse. Sometimes I have so many ideas running through my head that I can't sleep. So, keeping pen and paper nearby and journaling out my thoughts before bed is a great way to stop the racing thoughts! Not to mention that Erin Condren makes the CUTEST planners/journals/stationary on the planet. If you've met me, I love to write things down and if you let me customize every little thing, I couldn't be happier!
10. Quality bedding - I don't know if I can say this enough. Now, everyone is different when it comes to something that they like to spend money on. But for me, personally, I think that bedding should be on the top of that list. You sleep in your bed every night. For (hopefully) eight hours. I can't think of anything that I use more each day. So, to me, your bed should be something that you invest in. The more you invest in your bed, the more you are investing in your sleep and quality of health. I'm a big fan of huge fluffy pillows and down comforters, but everyone has their preference. I'm also a side sleeper who has two cats, so...
What do you use to get a great night's sleep? I'd love to hear your recommendations below!
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