When my anxiety was at its worse, my thoughts would keep me up all night worrying about a horror story I was making up in my head! I would also worry about all the things I had to do the next day or get upset about all the things I didn’t accomplish that very day.
It was a constant swirl of chaos in my mind. Who could sleep in that mess, right??!
As I started to work on my mind, I also worked on my body. I realized that I was nutrient-deprived so my body wasn’t functioning like it should or could be. Yet, I also knew that I needed to learn ways to control my mind… so my body would follow.
The two went hand-in-hand. So, my strategies will touch on both.
Here are my top 10 go-to strategies for better sleep.
Did you know that insomnia, muscle tightness, chocolate cravings and even anxiety, are common symptoms of low magnesium? (Yeah, I had ALL of these symptoms!)
Like I said, I suffered with anxiety, trouble sleeping, tight muscles, and an absurd craving for chocolate for a LONG time! When I learned that this may all stem from the lack of magnesium, I was stunned that a simple mineral could have this big of an impact on me.
I learned that there are different forms of magnesium (this is important to know – read the Dr. Axe article link) and magnesium glycinate was the most absorbable type (without the laxative affect). Besides eating more magnesium-dense foods, like spinach, pumpkin seeds and yogurt (no sugar added), I also take a supplement. Here is an example of a product I have been taking.
On top of this, did you know that Epsom salt contains magnesium?
It’s another form of magnesium… Magnesium Sulfate. When added to a warm bath, it can easily be absorbed through the epidermis (skin). It helps in relaxation, wound healing and easing sore muscles. This is my #1 self-care tool!! There is nothing better than an Epsom salt bath with soft music (or meditation), low lighting (or salt lamp) and some essential oils. It’s the best!
Speaking of essential oils… this is my next strategy. Like I said, this gets used in my bath, but I also defuse them or simply put a few drops on a clean, dry wash cloth and place it near my bed or pillow.
My favorite is lavender. Besides the techniques noted above, I have even put a drop on my chest so I smell it all night. On top of that, it has many other great health benefits such as: wound healing, reduce stress, improve sleep, reduce headaches and it’s even good for your overall skin care.
Keep in mind, just like anything else, not all essential oils are created equal. Please make sure it a quality source that is PURE and not a low-quality product that is even diluted… or toxic. (Yikes!)
I will not intentionally put anything harmful into my body anymore… or in my children’s bodies either! So when it comes to something like this, I know quality matters!
I purchase from Young Living. They have extremely high-quality standards, have been around decades, create partnerships with their farmers and are 100% transparent with their products come from. No shadiness or worry about what I’m purchasing!
This is important, especially if you have never used essential oils before. Essential oils are POTENT, and a little goes a long way! They are highly concentrated and since they are natural, our body takes in their nutrients quickly! This is why some people use it on a towel or in a defuser, but you can put it on your skin. It’s recommended to use a carrier oil (like coconut or olive oil) to slow down the absorption with the skin and ensure there is not reaction since the body loves to take it in so quickly!
Want to know another fun trick?
I don’t even use dryer sheets anymore (look into what’s in them, and you will understand why). I purchased wool balls that I put a few drops of essential oils on and my laundry comes out smelling amazing! It saves me so much money in the end, but also keeps my home less toxic. Easy peasy!
Other essential oils for calming/relaxation: Lemongrass, Frankincense, Sage, Chamomile, and Ylang Ylang.
If you have never heard of this before, you may be trying to figure out how to read this word. It’s an ancient herb that has some anti-anxiety properties. It is known for helping with both mental and physical health! It’s mostly been used in Ayurvedic medicine and benefits many bodily systems.
For me… I call it my “chill pill”.
When I get that anxious feeling creeping in, or know that I will be heading into an environment that may make me feel anxious, I take one of these.
My oldest son, who’s almost 16, will take this to help him fall asleep when needed. Sometimes he couples it with the lavender oil.
To me, there is nothing more soothing and comforting than a warm cup of tea. It has become a bedtime routine, which I still do every night. It has become a trigger for my body to say, “Hey! Slow down. Relax… and get ready for sleepy time!” Plus, there are some that have natural ingredients to promote sleep and calm the body.
Here is one of my favorite bedtime teas on Amazon.
Nature is freaking amazing! Did you know RAW HONEY is a powerhouse of nutrients? This is the honey that comes straight off the comb. Not only is it known for improving seasonal allergies (ask my husband about this), but it can also help you get better sleep!
We use honey whenever we get sick… with warm tea (too hot isn’t good for the honey), and even when we have a cough. Did you know it helps with healing wounds too?
Raw honey is loaded with nutrients to help your body have the energy to sleep through the night. It’s basically brain fuel!
Have you heard of melatonin? Well, raw honey can trigger the body to produce melatonin to help the body prepare for sleep. Try a teaspoon a couple hours before bed. Check out this article to learn more.
Tip #1: Look for the locally grown raw honey. If you are in Minnesota, then click here. Otherwise, use the Google machine typing, “Raw Honey” and the state you live in, to get a link like the one above.
Tip #2: Raw honey has a crazy long shelf life! Keep it closed in a jar and just store it in your pantry. It lasts for years… if it will even last that long, because you will fall in love with it.
Tip #3: It takes a single bee’s whole life (which is only a few days) to make a teaspoon of honey, so don’t waste it! If your jar is nearly empty, then put some lukewarm water in it, put the cap back on, and swirl the water inside until well mixed. Then drink the sweet liquid! Don’t waste a drop of it!
Meditation and Breathing Techniques
There are boatloads of free meditations for improving sleep. Some can be done for just a few minutes before bed or while you sleep. Yet, I don’t like having a cell phone near my bed, so I just do a quick meditation vs. having it run all night.
As I said, I usually couple it with something else… like my hot Epsom salt bath or my cup of tea.
The mind will follow the body and when the body feels good, YOU WILL FEEL GOOD. So, use a guided sleep meditation or breathing technique help you calm the body. Turn off the adrenals and relax the nervous system.
The breathing techniques will put more oxygen in your body, which can aid in warding off illnesses, improves healing, and induces a calmer state of mind.
One app that I recommend is called, Insight Timer. There are loads of calming music, meditations, and breathing exercises. There is a free option, with the option to make a low dollar donation option to the instructor of the particular recording you used. You can skip the donation or donate a slow as $1.99. I even use the music while I work to keep me calm and concentrated. I think it’s cool to still donate to the instructor for their wonderful creation!
Here are some other great examples (all are 5-15 minutes in length):
Blue Light blocking glasses
If you are on electronics a lot for work and at home, this may be something that is affordable and worth trying. Many have found that they reduce eye strain by wearing blue blocking glasses as well.
Remember, your eye is a receptor for the rest of your body, especially your brain. It transfers signals to drive bodily functions. (Like sunlight being a way to tell your body to wake up!) Yet, the blue light exposure by the electronics may be causing the body to suppress melatonin production, which naturally induces sleep but the blue light could disrupt you sleep cycle.
Since my work is 99% online, I’m on electronics a lot more. I do wear the glasses during the day, but especially at night.
There are blue blocking glasses that are orange, and those may be the most effective, but the “clear” looking ones (there is a slight orange tint to them), will work too. Yet, make sure they are of good quality and have good ratings.
Here are some on Amazon:
The TV in the bedroom
This should not be surprising considering #7. Yet, this is one thing I have stopped doing for nearly 20 years now. I have kept my bedroom a sacred space for peace and sleep. The noise, chatter and distraction of the TV does not allow that for me.
Many say that a TV is “white noise” for them, yet, I know that subconsciously our brain is still listening to everything we are hearing. So, I’d rather have it be quiet, calm and not full of chatter. Plus, with TVs now being Wi-Fi driven, and the impacts of EMF signals on our body, I don’t want that to also disrupt my sleep either.
I want my bedroom to be a place of quiet, stillness, calm and serenity… and nothing else.
100% cotton sheets
This one may wig people out a little, but those of you who like to learn about energy frequencies, our body and our environmental impacts, may like this one.
Yet, before I even learned about this, I just listened to my body. That is how my health journey started and how it has continued to this day.
I found that I didn’t feel comfortable wearing the “wicking” material running shirts that are mostly polyester (i.e. a type of plastic). I felt like I was wearing a garbage bag on my body and it couldn’t breathe. I found that I was most comfortable in cotton-based material.
In learning and experiencing this, I have learned a little more about the frequencies of fabric, and this became an “ah ha” for me, and why I felt the way I did with polyester. Check out this article on the study done regarding the fabrics impact on the body.
Here are some examples of cotton bedding you could try:
Bedtime space and routine
First of all, if you don’t know this already, I strive to be a minimalist. I’m not big into having a lot of stuff, or clutter. I have learned that I feel anxious when I feel like my space is cluttered or messy.
Yet, have you ever decluttered a room, closet or drawer? How did it feel to have that space open, free an accessible again? It was probably AMAZING!
There is a lot of research done on the emotions associated to clutter and space. Feng Shui is central to this exact thing and has been noted to be around as far back as 5000 B.C.!
For me, I like to keep things simple. I would rather spend a little extra money on a few quality things, than the same for a bunch of lower quality things that break, clutter up my home, or don’t get used and take up space.
Plus, the more “flow” I have for the room, the more peaceful it feels.
When it comes to my bedroom, I do the same. Check out this article to learn some easy things you can do to make your bedroom a more tranquil space.
Also, for me, I like to give my body the signals to “slow down”. Doing so allows my mind to settle and my body follows suit.
My routine adjusts based on what I need and feel. Sometimes I add a bath, I turn on a diffuser or I listen to soft music. Sometimes I even go to bed early, even if I need to get things done! If my body is talking, I have learned to listen to it. I may write down the top things I still need to complete for the next day, but I also know that if I “push through”, the quality of my output won’t be as good, when I’m already depleted.
Take the time to stop and figure out how you can adjust your routine, adjust your environment, and try techniques to help you body and mind calm down.
It’s truly a form of self-care! Please take care of you. There is only one precious YOU!