Lately I've been having such good regular sleep (not to brag but I guess I am, lol) so I never really think about trying to get enough good quality zzzz's in my life anymore. But recently with my Europe trip, I suffered crazy jet lag and had some solid insomnia. And that reminded me of the nights when I used to toss and turn in bed trying to quiet my anxiety-ridden mind. I used to have really bad insomnia (like I would take an Ambien every once in awhile). But now I'm over the jet lag and sleeping well again so I thought I would share with you some of my secrets to a better night's sleep.
Here's my biggest tip and basically what turned things around for me: learn how to meditate. Ok ok I know that's not super easy (and I don't even have a regular meditation practice), but seriously it will do wonders. And that's because meditating is basically a skill to get your mind to let go of the anxiety and the stressors that keeps you up at night. I like to practice mindful meditation where I'll focus on my breathing. Sometimes I will think "in" and "out" with each breathe. Of course my mind will wander, but when I catch myself reverting to my "monkey mind" I bring it back to my breathe. Or if I'm too restless for that I'll start with a body scan and then try to go to the mindful breathe exercises. And for those who think, I'm too ADD to meditate, no one is good at meditating and everyone's minds wander. The point is to learn how to bring it back to mindfulness. Anyway I read this book and that's what inspired me to start meditating. And really guys, even if you suck at it, it really helps you sleep better!
Also if you wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time falling back asleep: first, never check the time because it'll just fuel that 'did I get enough hours of sleep' or 'how much more time do I have left to sleep' anxiety. Just know that even with poor sleep (like you only got 3 hours), you will live and you will survive. You may not be at your best but that is totally ok.
Another tip for a better night's sleep: give yourself strict bed times. I have a bad habit of watching my iPad or looking at my iPhone in bed. And for the most part I can handle it because I give myself strict times where I make myself turn off my devices and close my eyes. Also if you're watching TV/Netlfix in bed, never watch anything suspenseful, exciting or action-packed. Watch a good 'ole documentary (Ken Burns always soothes me) or maybe something slightly boring (I watched episodes of Doc Martin for awhile there).
Exercise is also the key to a good night's sleep. I find that when I have a regular exercise routine, I'm able to sleep through the night better. Here are my tips to get yourself on an exercise routine.
I'm a fairly light sleeper and noises wake me up, so if I'm sleeping somewhere noisy (which is pretty much all the time when you live in a small trailer with a night-owl husband) I'll fall asleep to BBC4 radio podcasts. All of the BBC4 podcasts are educational and most of them are interesting enough but not too interesting. My favorites are A History of the World in 100 objects, In Our Time, and Thinking Allowed. Something about their British accents just lulls me to sleep. And I use earbuds like these, which are soft and meant for side-sleepers like me.
Ok, and if all else fails (like when I had that insomnia in Europe and needed to sleep so I could spend the next day wandering the streets of Paris) I take two Benadryl tablets. I'm no doctor and am not advocating anyone pop pills, but I have found for me that two Benadryls do the trick (also if you're unsure but want to try, check with your physician first). Actually all those night time sleep aids have the exact same active ingredient (Diphenhydramine HCl) as Benadryl, just at a larger dosage (and that's why I take 2 Benadryls). Benadryl is also a lot cheaper than those marketed night sleeping aids. But be warned, you will feel a bit groggy the next morning. So really I only use this as the last resort. And I never do it two nights in a row.
So anyone else have tips for an awesome night's sleep?
P.S. Also as Jess commented below, it's key to have a dark room. My Airstream trailer didn't come with black out curtains (they only started doing that in 2016), so I got these temporary blackout curtains and cut them up to fit my trailer windows.