This post probably sounds like it’s for kids, doesn’t it? It’s actually about me and how I went from sleepless nights to getting the best sleep of my life. I told a friend recently that I was sleeping extraordinarily well and she was so excited to hear my secrets. I thought maybe you all would be too ;).
About 6 months ago I found myself in a really hard place. I was struggling big time with anxiety and depression and decided to make the switch from straight night shifts to all days to try to preserve at least some of my sanity. And to maybe have a hope of making it to the gym occasionally. In all, I was doing my best to make some healthy changes so I could actually feel better about…everything. I don’t know how many of you have tried to make a complete switch from shift work to a “normal” schedule, but it isn’t pretty. I thought my body would appreciate being up during daylight hours and asleep overnight, since that’s what God created it to do. And, truth be told, I’ve always been more of a morning person who loves to get in bed early. But my body just totally rebelled. I was awake at all hours and I only really wanted to sleep when it was inconvenient–you know, during the day when I had to actually take care of two kids.
Several months prior to this we had begun using essential oils to combat some bedtime anxiety one of our girls was dealing with. I had this bright idea…what if I started using some of them when I went to bed as well? We had seen a pretty big decrease in our little one’s bedtime struggles, I was pretty hopeful that I could find a combo that would help me sleep through the night. I ordered a couple oils rom Young Living that are supposed to help with relaxation and sleep. My favorites so far have been cedarwood with lavender, Peace and Calming with black pepper, and stress away by itself. Diffusing these at night helps me relax when I first get into bed and has also helped me sleep throughout the night.
The second thing I’ve been doing that really works is setting a bed time and a wake up time. I read Ruth Soukup’s book Unstuffed awhile ago and one of the things she recommends to simplify your life is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. She said if you’re consistent with this and make it a habit, your body will naturally get tired and wake up at the times you’ve set. Honestly, I wasn’t great about this until the girls were in school and we had to wake up at 6am every morning. Then, what do you know, I naturally got tired around 7pm! Ha, kidding…kind of. But it was much easier to call it a night at 10:30, and I feel like after a couple weeks of this we’re getting a lot better about saying no to “just one more episode!” and heading to bed around 10.
And then this little gem. I feel like this tip might actually work all on its own. I started taking melatonin when I was working night shift. I had such a hard time sleeping for more tan 4 hours on the days between my shifts. I started taking melatonin because it didn’t give me the same “hangover” feeling that Benadryl did. I was able to fully wake up when I wanted to instead of feeling dead tired until halfway through the next shift. I’ve tried several different brands of melatonin, these gummies but are hands down my absolute favorite. I don’t know if this is what makes the difference, but they’re a combo of melatonin, L-theanine and herbs like chamomile. And they WORK. I take two of these about 30 minutes before I go to sleep most nights. (Side note: they’re a bit pricier than some others I tried, but for me the benefit totally offsets the cost.) When I take two of these before bed and diffuse my oils, I sleep so well and I actually wake up feeling good. You know, after I’ve downed that first cup of coffee ;).
If you’re having trouble sleeping or if you’re just feeling like your sleep isn’t refreshing the way you want it to be, give this combo a try. Good sleep just makes such a difference in your day to day life and how you feel. I hope you can find a routine that works for you. If you’ve tried something that I didn’t mention, let me know in the comments!