Five sleep solutions from a reluctant sleeper
Note: I am not a doctor and the claims made in this post are not meant to be taken as medical advice. Each person is different. Consult with your care team before you make any changes or take any new medication.
Sleep is a weird thing. When we were children, most of us raged against the dying of the light and hated going to sleep. ⅔ of the children in my house right now HATE going to sleep.
But now that we are adults? Man, what we wouldn’t give for five, ten, twenty more minutes. According to the CDC, a lot of us don’t get enough sleep. And it affects us immensely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that fatigue is a leading cause in around 100,000 auto crashes a year. It’s also the cause of over 1,500 crash-related deaths. And if that doesn’t scare you enough, the disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl can all be traced back to sleep deprivation.
Pretty scary stuff for something that we all at some point struggle with.
So how much sleep should we get?
Well, that depends.
According to The National Sleep Foundation, instead of a set standard, there is a sleep need spectrum. Depending on a host of variables (sleep debt, activity level, health, stress levels, and stimulant consumption), sleep needs are unique. What an active 19-year-old healthy male needs and what a sedate unwell mid 40s female needs are drastically different. You can view their recommendations here. For most adults (age 26-64), 7-9 hours is the recommended amount.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awful lot of glorious, glorious sleep. I tend to go to sleep early and wake up early. I’d estimate that I’m still only getting about 6 hours a night, which is just below the ideal amount. My issue is that I have trouble staying asleep as well. So while I may be asleep for 6 hours, I’ve woken up roughly four times throughout that span of the night. Being primary caregiver to three kids, two cats, one dog and one husband, even if I wanted to supplement my sleep amount by napping, it wouldn’t be possible. So I need the sleep I can get through the night.
Getting the right amount of sleep as an adult is hard. Here are five things I’ve picked up that help.
From the Asteraceae family, chamomile is the name given to several daisy-like plants that have for centuries been used to make relaxing, sleep-inducing herbal teas. Most commonly made from the dried flowers of the German/Wild or English/Garden species, the tea has been found to have anti-anxiety effects. For me personally, it pretty much the liquid equivalent to having the Sandman throw sand right in your eyes. After a cup (or more cause I have a habit of drinking A LOT of tea) I’m pretty much done for. It’s a great way to relax and let the stresses of the day melt off. You can find chamomile tea commercially (Celestial Seasonings’ Honey Vanilla Chamomile is a personal favorite). You can also buy the dried herb in bulk. Add two or three heaped tablespoons to hot water and let steep 20-30 minutes. Then strain and add your preferred sweetener. Comfy pajamas, rainy days, and a cocoon of blankets may intensify the effect of the tea. Prepare accordingly.
Available as an over the counter supplement, Melatonin is a pretty successful sleep assistant. As a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness, it has many uses. Melatonin may be beneficial for people who struggle with sleep disorders, have irregular schedules due to shift work, jet lag, or trouble sleeping because of autism or ADHD. Some scientific claims have found insufficient evidence as of melatonin’s effects, but personally, it has worked wonderfully. I use it occasionally when I know I really need to sleep restfully. For me, it has no lingering effects and I awake the next day fully rested.
While the idea of warm milk before bed is something I’ve heard of for years, Moon Milk is something I just learned about. I came across this post on Facebook a while back and was inspired. Then I tried to make it and fell in love. Not only is it a great lactose-free alternative to the traditional warm milk, it’s steeped in magic as well. If almonds are not your thing, feel free to substitute any sort of nut you’d like. I used a variety of spices I had on hand and it quickly became a household hit. Like the camomile tea, it is an excellent way to relax and slow your mind and body down at the end of the day.
ASMR/ Relaxing Sounds
Now this one might be a little out there. ASMR ( autonomous sensory meridian response)is an internet phenomenon that got its name in 2015 in a Facebook group. Previously talked about simple as “that unnamed feeling”, it’s a pleasure response to sounds that cause the feeling of “tingles” on the upper spine, neck, sides, and back of the head. It can be from sounds such as crinkling of paper, crunching of leaves all the way to whispered personal attention. Do a search for ASMR on youtube and you will find thousands of different videos. It’s something I use to relax and more than a few times, have been lulled to sleep at my computer by. It’s a great way to put your brain on pause. I will warn you, there are some ASMR videos and creators that push the envelope. As with anything, find what works for you and let others find theirs.
If ASMR isn’t working for you, there’s always the use of relaxing sounds. There are so many apps available now that provide various sounds to help you nod off. My favorite app has tons of sounds you can mix and match to create the perfect sleep song for you. It also has a timer. So you can set it and not worry about it running on your phone all night long.
Today’s technology coupled with tried and true methods provide multiple ways to help those that struggle with sleeping erase the stress. Just like how the need for sleep is individual, the strategies that are effective are unique as well. The main goal is to find that works for you and do that. And then, get the sleep you deserve. The sleep of kitties snoozing in the sun.