Hi, My name is Henrietta and I’m an Insomniac.
I had a new mattress delivered yesterday and it spurred me to write this post as it was one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in a while. I’ve struggled with sleep for most of my life and over the years I’ve picked up some really helpful tips and tricks that have helped me come closer to my goal of nipping Insomnia in the bud. This is not going to be your usual “stay away from electronics before bed” spiel. That is a great tip but the tips and tricks I’ll be sharing in this post are methods that I trust and have used for many years. Hopefully you can take away something new from this and get that much deserved rest. Keep your eyes peeld for part 2 of this post where I’ll be sharing the not-so-common tricks and tips for getting a good nights sleep.
Routine is everything. Long or short a good night routine can quickly get you into the habit of forming a consistent “putting the day to rest” routine. The small things that we do before bed has a huge impact on the amount of quality sleep we get. Creating a night time routine/regime is the perfect way to send a signal to your brain letting it know that it’s time to unwind and get ready for the land of nod. These are some of the things that I like to do to get the ball rolling.
– “A tidy space equals a tidy mind” –
Another thing I do before bed is I clean my space. This is one of those monotonous chores that I find oddly relaxing. It allows me to filter throw my thoughts and eventually take my mind off of whatever I’ve been thinking about. A little organising and a quick change of bed sheets can make all the difference. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t love hopping into a freshly made bed. Spritz a calming pillow spray over your pillows and you’re bound to fall into a deep slumber when your head hits he pillow. The body shop used to sell a beautiful citrus infused pillow spray that made falling asleep a treat. I wish they still sold it but there are plenty of other options out there, I’ve heard great things about This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Talk Spray.
A little night time sprucing up never hurt anybody. Whether its a full skincare routine or simply brushing your teeth before bed it will leave you fell pampered, fresh and relaxed. On a good night I might even slap on a face mask and watch something random on the internet. Something lighthearted and not too serious on either Viki, Netflix or Youtube.
– Tea –
I love a good cup of sleep easy or relaxing tea before bed! I’ve tried so many and I’ve narrowed it down to my Top 4 for you. Chamomile, Dragonfly Vanilla Rooibos, Pukka Night Time Tea and Clippers Sleep Easy Infusion Tea. Valerian has the ability to aid sleep which is why I love it in my night time tea along with all the other hocus pocus stuff they put in there. *I also drink cold water after to bring my body temperature down. Cooling the body and turning the temperature down in your room is another handy tip.
-Lights out –
This usually is what kicks off my evening/night time routine. I turn off the lights and light a candle or two. If like me you don’t like the drastic shift from Natural or ambient lighting to dim lighting, I would recommend turning on a little lamp or fairy lights as well as candles so that when you eventually do turn out the lights you’re left with nothing but the soft glow of a warming candle. Lavender is a great scent to burn at night as it has a soothing a calming effect on the mind and senses.
Science proves that light stimulates the brain and too much of it can mess with your biological clock. Blocking out light sources completely can help you get the most out of your sleep. This is where Flux comes in. Simply put Flux is a free software that displays a red filter/tint over your computer or laptop screen which is very similar to the iPhone Nightshift feature. Why is it good for sleep? Much like how going from a brightly lit room to complete darkness can feel unnatural and make it hard to switch off, same rules goes for staring at a bright screen before bed. Having Flux installed on my Laptop eliminates that blinding blue light you get when you look at a bright screen at night and sends a signal to my brain that it’s time to wind down for the day. Using electronics before bed can disturb sleep but I know most of us can’t resist. My logic is that using Flux makes it only half as bad and that’s why I love it. My brain doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the bright lights and the dim lighting doesn’t blast neutrons to my brai. I’ve used it for years and I don’t know what I would do without it. What’s great is that you can set flux preferences and use the time zone feature to automatically turn it on and off in correlation with the sunrise and sunset. Using it has regulated my melatonin levels at night and I no longer feel wide awake when using my laptop during the evenings and nights. Once I’m in bed I find I using a sleeping mask blocks out all light and I can fall asleep better.
– Music, sound, Audio books and ASMR –
Every night is different for me. Over the years I’ve built quite the catalogue of “sleep approved Music, Podcasts, Sounds and ASMR”. It’s great because if one outlet fails, I have another bajillion at my disposal. Everyone has different preferences in terms of what sounds they deem as calming or relaxing. That is the beauty of creating your own playlist, you can tailor it to your taste. Some people prefer to sleep in total silence so if total silence is more your speed than skip this step.
I have a playlist on YouTube filled with hours of peaceful & classical music. Some people like spa music whilst others like white noise and there are people who prefer the sound of an electric heater over nature sounds. Usually soft music in the background works fine but then there are nights where I like to mix it up. Listening to Meditation and ASMR podcasts has been so helpful in terms of falling into a deep sleep faster. ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) is hard to explain and so I’ll let Wiki do the hard work as I think it explains it best;
The subjective experience of ‘low-grade euphoria’ characterized by ‘a combination of positive feelings, relaxation, and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin’. It typically begins ‘on the scalp’ before moving ‘down the spine’ to the base of the neck, sometimes spreading ‘to the back, arms and legs as intensity increases’, most commonly triggered by specific acoustic and visual stimuli including the content of some digital videos, and less commonly by intentional attentional control.
My go-to people to watch and listen to for ASMR videos on youtube are AndrewsDayOff and AccidentallyGraceful ASMR. It’s worth mentioning here that ‘Mukbangs’ especially fused with ASMR can be oddly relaxing. I’m pretty sure I stumbled across the world of Mukbang through ASMR videos and I’m a huge fan now. Finding a Mukbang + ASMR video is like winning the ASMR lottery. *There are a few ASMR podcasts I love on iTunes which I’ll leave listed at the end of this post.
Now Audiobooks, I have no idea what took me so long to jump onto the Audible bandwagon (I think it was all the hype) Anyways I’m on it now and I LOVE it! I’ll admit that I used to go against the grain and rebel against what all the “how to get better sleep” articles say. I would spend hours in bed at the end of the day going through all my social media (Snapchat being the main culprit) but now I listen to Audio books and fall asleep almost instantly.
-If all else fails-
In a situation where you simply can’t fall asleep I’ve learnt that it’s best not to force it. Get up and find something to do whether it’s reading or browsing the web because 8 times out of 10 and usually within 10 minutes you’ll realise that you were indeed tired and will have no trouble going back to bed and falling asleep.
These are things that work well for me and have restored some normality to my biorhythm so I really hope they work for you too. Part two of this post is geared more towards dealing with anxiety and a restless mind which can also interrupt sleep. I’ll also be going through the extra things you can do before bed to relax.
*As promised here is a list of my recommended iTunes Podcasts.
Lastly Hanguk Story is a podcast I listen to occasionally for two reasons; 1) I am learning Korean and 2) Because it’s in a foreign language and I only understand 2% of what they are saying I find my attention isn’t divided and I can focus solely on sleeping.