Ladies and gentlemen…a good night’s sleep begins BEFORE your head hits the pillow.
Does this surprise you? Most of us (moms especially) are constantly reviewing the day, thinking about what needs to be accomplished tomorrow, fretting about future events…and this prevents us from falling asleep. Then if we wake up in the middle of the night it’s hard to get back to sleep.
There are lots of things you can do during the day to help you fall asleep without taking pills, and get back to sleep quickly if you wake up. But first, let’s talk about what our bodies need in order to sleep well.
Our bodies are wired for a 24-hour cycle, and our natural rhythm is based on sunlight. Morning light tells your brain that it’s time to wake up, and your brain needs bright light during the day to reset itself for sleep at night.
If you spend the whole day under artificial light (like in an office) it’s much harder for your mind to distinguish between day and night. This can be one of the reasons why it’s hard for us to fall asleep. (source)
Daytime Preparation for Great Sleep
Ok, I understand that most of us are not going to “go native” and spend our days outside in order to reset our sleep clock.
If you spend your day in an office or indoors, what can you do during the day to help get great sleep at night? Lots!
Here are actions you can take during the day to prepare for great sleep at night.
Exercise in the morning. Even something as simple as walking around the block at work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator will help.
Don’t consume any caffeine or stimulants after noon. This includes coffee, cigarettes, energy drinks, caffeinated soda, green tea, etc.
Eat foods rich in B6 and magnesium throughout the day. Some examples are wild caught tuna, almonds, banana, turkey, yogurt, or dark chocolate. A great bedtime snack would be a banana and dark chocolate covered almonds.
(Psssst…make your own dark chocolate almonds with this recipe from my friends at Traditional Cooking School!)
Photo credit: TraditionalCookingSchool.com
Don’t use alcohol or sedatives to get yourself to sleep. Besides being bad for your body, these drugs will disrupt the restorative REM sleep that helps you feel rested in the morning.
Create the Perfect Environment for Sleep
Let’s keep that sleepy streak going! You’ve had the perfect day and completed all the steps above to prepare for great sleep.
Now let’s get you and your bedroom ready for some ZZZZs.
Stop using your computer, tablet, or phone for 30 minutes before bed. The blue light from these devices can reduce melatonin levels, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. And nobody has ever slept well after checking their work email, anyway.
Keep the temperature in your bedroom between 66-75 degrees. This may require a little negotiation with your partner.
If you can’t find a room temperature you agree on, author, entrepreneur, and podcaster Tim Ferris recommends something called a Chili Pad.
This gizmo goes under your sheets and allows each person to set the temperature for their side of the bed. It’s not cheap, but it’s cheaper than a divorce. #kiddingnotkidding
Get separate comforters for each of you, instead of sharing one large comforter. This eliminates all of the nighttime blanket fights and quite a bit of tossing and turning. You can roll up like a happy little burrito in your own comforter.
Aromatherapy can help calm and relax the body and mind, especially when the same scent is used consistently. Diffuse Lavender essential oil or Serenity essential oil blend, apply a drop to your pillow, or try one of the many essential oil combinations in my book of diffuser recipes.
Cancel the racket from a noisy partner/household by running a fan or use a white noise machine. I like the Marpac rohm because it creates true white noise or gentle surf sounds. It’s also small enough to toss in the suitcase when traveling.
Darken the room completely. Use blackout curtains or a Sleep Master sleep mask.
Take an Epsom salt bath or foot soak (also called a detox bath). Epsom salt is not the same as table salt–Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, a naturally occuring mineral compound. Replenishing magnesium through a bath or foot soak helps the body produce seratonin, which helps you get to sleep.
Instead of counting sheep, you can try drinking one of these beverages, also recommended by Tim Ferriss:
A few drops of CA Poppy Extract in warm water
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg’s) and 1 tablespoon honey in 1 cup of hot water.
What’s your favorite way to fall asleep without pills? “Exhaustion from being a Mom” doesn’t count. 😉