If you asked me a few years ago, I would have told you the hardest part of my health journey involved food. Seems pretty much a no-brainer as someone recovering from Binge Eating Disorder, right? These days, sleep is by far the most difficult aspect to manage. Lack of sleep is a feeder cell straight to stress, and it's horrible. I talked about my cortisol levels and adrenal fatigue before, but sleep is the gorilla I haven't been able to slay. DANG YOU GORILLA!
I was seventeen when I first started counting the hours it took me to fall asleep. My mind just races with 500 thoughts that lead to 10 more thoughts PER original thought, and it snowballs into oblivion. Over the years, I've gone from 1.5 hours of waiting to fall asleep to six hours of waiting to fall asleep when things were at their worst – dealing with my dying mom.
Emmie's attempts to fall asleep:
- Stage 1: Chamomile tea, counting sheep, counting from 100 backwards to 1, and journaling right before bed.
- Stage 2: Meditation apps on my phone, writing in the dark (keeping a pad and paper next to you and jotting down whatever pops in your mind – usually illegible the next morning), diaphragmatic breathing.
- Stage 3: White noise machine, over the counter sleep aids.
- Stage 4: Prescription medication.
These days, I'm focused on changing my environment and my routines for better sleep, and while I may not fall asleep quickly (yet), I do feel less stressed and like my mind isn't racing as much when my head hits the pillow.
Current sleep-enhancing program:
- Caffeine: Stop drinking caffeine after 3pm, which hasn't been a problem at all as I wasn't drinking coffee much on Whole30. I'm usually done with hot tea by noon.
- Reduce tech distractions: Enable “blocking mode” on my phone (Samsung Note 4, but I'm sure other phones have similar features). I didn't know this existed, but I can turn off all notifications except for phone calls and my alarm between certain hours. Working in social media, I have a lot of pings and beeps and vibration alerts that would run all night. This stops those. I have it set for 11pm-8am. When I see it come on at 11pm, it's giving me a reminder I need to wrap things up. Hard for this night owl – I do most of my writing late at night!
- Adjusting the room itself: After my divorce, my ex took the bed and mattress (I hated both), so I invested in a fancy-schmancy mattress with an adjustable base. I also painted the walls a darker color and got new wood blinds. Next in the room, I want to install some curtain rods and blackout curtains. I live in a suburban, fairly dark place, but there is a street light that shines in one of my windows at just the right angle to put a glow over the entire room, plus a new neighbor who keeps their porch lights on – directly across from my windows.
- Making the bed: I've always been HORRIBLE at making the bed. I never had to do it growing up (thanks, parents), but the feeling of getting in a freshly made bed is just awesome. I picked up some new sheets from Kohl's – they were on sale, so I picked up 2 sets. I also got a down comforter and tried to pretty-up the bed with a cover and throw pillows. Making the room feel like a sanctuary is something I hope to do more of. Change out the area rug, lamps, side tables, etc. Maybe it will encourage me to get in there earlier than I usually do.
I haven't been tracking my sleep times (perhaps I should wear a Fitbit at night), but the past few weeks haven't been half bad when it comes to falling asleep. A couple nights were rough, but I've had some nights that were less than 45 minutes of blank staring into the darkness. Total win in my book!
Do you have any tricks for getting better sleep? I'd love to hear your suggestions. Let me know in the comments, and on social media using #MakeYourMove.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Kohl's.