Do you have trouble staying or falling asleep? Do the littlest things wake you up? I have always been an extremely sensitive sleeper. Even light coming through where the door meets the door frame can wake me up. Whatever your sleep woes are, I can probably relate. Through lots of sleepless nights, I’ve finally found my perfect recipe for sleep. I really hope and believe that any combination of these hacks will help you sleep better tonight.
1. Minimize Blue Light
The blue light that our screens emit is a hot topic right now. If you’re not familiar, our screens have LED lights that emit blue light, which sends signals to our brain that wake it up by inhibiting melatonin production, the very hormone that tells our bodies it’s bed time. So what can we do?
Wear blue light blocking glasses when looking at any screen for a prolonged time.
My husband and I both have used these blue light blocking glasses for over a year. We felt the difference and slept better on the very first night of using them.
For bonus protection: unless you’re doing something that requires seeing the precise colors (ie. editing photos or online shopping), turn on the “night mode” settings on your devices. Yes, even TVs and phones have this option. Both my computer and iPhone have settings that allow me to schedule when I want the “night mode” to turn on. All this does is turn your screen a little yellow which helps minimize the blue light. You won’t notice the difference after a minute.
Try to not use your screens at least one hour before bed time.
The longer you can go without your screens before bed, the better you will sleep that night. I know it sounds really inconvenient, especially if you are used to scrolling yourself to sleep. But just try it. This is also another hack that I felt the difference right away.
No bright LED lights in your bedroom. Does your alarm clock have a super bright display that lights up your room in the dark? It might be keeping you from sleeping better! Try covering it with something like a book or a t shirt. OR, if you want to be super precise, check out these repositionable and removable blackout stickers. These are especially awesome for when you’re traveling and your hotel has so many gadgets that the room looks like a there is a Christmas tree in it.
2. White Noise
Anyone who has had trouble sleeping knows it’s not just a noisy environment that can pose an issue to sleep — a quiet room can be just as bad, since it allows you to hear every tiny sound! Even in the quietest neighborhood, the wind howling or a house creaking can feel like the loudest sounds in the dead quiet of the night. So, whether you are in a noisy city or an alarmingly quiet suburb, a sound machine can help you sleep better!
It works by creating a constant, soothing, fan-like sound that your brain is primed to relax to. Our brains like consistency, so having one continuous sound to focus on allows the brain to stop listening for and alerting you to any new noise. It is adjustable so you can choose your own custom tone.
I’ve had this sound machine for 7 years now, and it has helped me survive the noisiest of apartments. And now, my husband and I have one of these on each of our nightstands. We highly recommend it, it has… really helped our marriage 🙂 One of us may or may not snore…
If you’re not ready to commit, I use this app when I travel, and it works just as well! I just don’t know how safe for your phone’s speakers it would be to have them on all night for a prolonged period of time.
3. Darkness is key
Scientific studies have proven over and over again that a dark room is crucial to reach optimal sleep and health. I consider myself a dark sleeping environment expert. You’re about to see why.
These blackout curtains will not only block out light, but they can also help insulate your room from the outside temperature. You can put them under the curtains you already have or by using this double rod.
OR you can have them as your main curtains. If you put them on a regular curtain rod, keep in mind that light will still come from the sides and top of the curtains.
If you are extremely sensitive to light like me (I seriously wonder if my eyelids are see-through or if I actually sleep with my eyes open), you can go for complete blackout by purchasing velcro blackout curtains that attach right to your window! BlackoutEZ has both standard window sizes, as well as custom sizing options. Our window is a little wider than a standard window, so I had them custom-make ours, and they came out PERFECTLY! Beau says this is one of the best purchases we have ever made.
As for travelling, I have finally found the mother of all eye masks! After trying 12 different sleep masks (yes 12 different ones, I have a graveyard of sleep masks that I should probably donate), I have found only one that actually blocks out 100% of the light AND doesn’t destroy my eyelashes (priorities).
For starters, the eye cushions are ADJUSTABLE. This is the only sleep mask that can actually be custom fit to your face width so that the eye covers actually fit exactly over your eyes! The eye covers are also made with the comfiest memory foam, so you can tighten the band around your head, the foam will contour to your eyes, and not let a single ray of light in. Worried about your eyelashes, like me? The eye covers are contoured to allow almost an inch of room between your eyes and the mask. Even extensions should be safe in these. I never EVER travel without mine. And lastly, it is machine washable and comes with its own laundry pouch. Oh and I’m devoted side sleeper, and this is also the only mask that stays on and keeps the light out as I switch positions. You can thank me later 🙂 There’s a reason this is the first item on my travel packing list.
4. Natural Supplements
When you think of natural sleep aids, I’m sure one of the first things to pop into your mind is Melatonin. But did you know that Melatonin can actually backfire on some people? For me, melatonin only helps me fall asleep but since it goes through your body in 4 hours – I wake up bright and alert right at the 4-hour mark. Every. Single. Time. To avoid this, look for a:
Bi-layer Melatonin supplement, which has an immediate layer and a delayed release layer for after the 4 hour mark.
Before I found the better Melatonin tablets, I researched and grew to love these alternatives:
For my fellow tea lovers, this is one of the most calming and sleep-inducing yummies I have tried! (FYI, Amazon usually has better bulk deals than grocery stores for if you become obsessed like me)
It’s one of the main ingredients in Sleepytime tea, but if you prefer not to drink liquids before bed or just prefer pills, this is your new sleepy pill! Ultra calming Valerian Root is also a natural muscle relaxant.
Magnesium has been an amazing addition to my sleep supplement routine. Also a muscle relaxant, magnesium helps to calm your brain and is known to significantly reduce headaches and migraines if taken regularly.
Magnesium capsules are by far the easiest way to consume Magnesium.
But by far, the most relaxing way to take a magnesium supplement is to take a delicious epsom salt bath, which will absorb the magnesium right into your bloodstream and deeply relax you.
For more natural supplement recommendations, check out my post on how to boost your immune system.
5. Essential Oils
Speaking of baths… essential oils, which are commonly used while soaking, are also delicious ways of calming your system. Roll this organic lavender essential oil roller onto the bottoms of your feet, wrists, and behind your ears for instant relaxation. You can even rub your wrists together after using the roller, and then inhale the scent from your wrists.
For ongoing aromatherapy throughout the night, a few drops of this lavender essential oil will make you feel like you are at an expensive spa. I’ve had this diffuser for a few years now. Whereas most diffusers have a time limit on how long they can run due to their size, the 500ml tank on this diffuser delivers a cool mist for up to 16 hours, no joke. Full disclaimer, I do put a cloth over it to cover the light. I have yet to find a diffuser that doesn’t light up my room and is big enough to last the whole night. Alas, this has been worth it for me for the aromatherapy benefits.
6. Relax Your Body
It is important to release the tension that inevitably builds up in your body throughout the day. Even being a couch potato tightens your muscles, and not in a beneficial way. Try this quick 7-Minute Bedtime Yoga Routine before you turn in for the night.
7. Ear Plug Hacks
I was always against ear plugs, because the only ones I had used always felt like they were stretching out my ears, until I found these ear plugs for sensitive ears. I sleep mostly on my left side, and about a year ago I started cutting my left ear plug in half for even more comfort.
They are the only ones that don’t hurt my ears, and they stay super soft. I have to remind myself to change them out. And because they’re ear plugs (aka some of the easiest things to misplace), yes, you really do need this bulk jar.
8. A Vibrating Alarm Watch
If you share a room with another human, be it your significant other or a roommate, and one of you gets up before the other – this vibrating alarm watch might save you some hostile feelings towards each other!
My husband wakes up about an hour before I do, and I could never get back to sleep after hearing his alarm. In order to not lose that coveted hour of extra sleep I had worked so hard for, we found this marriage-saving vibrating alarm watch, and now our mornings are much nicer.
9. Four Square Breathing
Lastly, if your mind races before you actually fall asleep, this simple breathing technique has calmed me on my worst nights.
Simply breathe in for 4 seconds, gently hold your breath in for 4 seconds, then let it out for 4 seconds and hold your breath for 4 seconds. Repeat until you fall asleep. Not only does the mindfulness of counting and paying attention to your breathing relax you, but this technique has been proven to calm your nervous system – the very part of your brain keeping your mind spinning. All credit to my favorite mindfulness book and journal set.
I hope these hacks help you get some deep rest tonight.
What helps you sleep better?
Share your favorite bedtime routines in the comments!