Getting a proper night’s sleep is something I’ve struggled with all my life, so it’s been my project lately (one I bemoaned a few times on my appearance on Punk Rock Personal Development!).
So I’ve compiled a list of techniques that have helped me.
during the day: exhaust self mentally and physically.
Work hard, as early in the day as possible, and do enough walking or physical exercise to feel ready to collapse at the right hour. I figured out that the ideal time for me to do exercise is 3pm, giving me a spike of energy in the afternoon, which trails off by bedtime.
turn off the computer
We have a ‘no computer after 10pm’ rule that when followed helps my eyes rest and my brain calm down. I adjusted my iPod screen to switch to ‘night shift’ at 10pm as well.
listen to lullabies
On those days when my head can’t stop spinning, I find it helpful to listen to soothing songs. Recent favourites include the theme from Laputa: Castle in the Sky and the Braid soundtrack.
set the scene
Light a candle (my favourite is Isle of Skye Candle Company: Sleep Sensation). Take a bath with epsom salt and essential oils or Lush bath bombs. Curl up in cosy jam jams. Make winding down a ritual.
sip herbal remedies
My favourite nighttime tea is Pukka Love, and helps me to calm down. The act of sipping tea is also a calming process in itself. When I’m especially awake when I need to be winding down, a magnesium citrate tablet really really helps. I’ve tried melatonin, and it does pretty much nothing for me.
Stretch out your muscles one last time with a quick vinyasa flow. I am an inversion addict as well, and find plow pose (halasana) especially effective in the evening.
mind your light
I know I sleep better when my bedroom is pitch black, but I also learned that it’s important to get enough light during the day as well, something to keep in mind, living in Scotland! I open all the curtains and turn on the lights during the day, then make sure they’re dimmed down in the evening.
I’ve tried melatonin, and it doesn’t help me sleep when I’m really struggling, plus it makes me groggy in the morning. But! Magnesium citrate does the trick, easing my muscles and tension and helping my brain drift off to sleep.
if you can’t sleep, get up
If all else fails, don’t subject yourself to tossing and turning for too long. Allow yourself to get up and do something: get a glass of water, read a book, pretend like you’re starting your day again.