I’ve mentioned that for me, stress and insomnia were constant bedfellows and those two just energized each other to the point of getting only 2-3 hours of sleep. Today, I’m sharing some of the daily tips I follow to combat insomnia naturally and hit my goal to get more sleep.
Having insomnia for so long led me to try many, many things in my attempt to get more sleep. After my last post, a lot of people had questions about Melatonin tablets. They wondered if I’d tried them, if they worked, and if I would recommend them. Let me say that I will never recommend anything – I am not a medical professional and will always advise seeking direction from someone trained in medicine and the human body.
To be honest, I didn’t even know Melatonin tablets existed until about a year ago when my husband suggested I take one. He knew about them because he managed a swing shift at one point in his career and working that way can really mess up a person’s sleep pattern. In the beginning of my ‘get more sleep’ journey, I would take a single, 5 mg dose of melatonin a couple times a week, trying to get my body’s natural sleep rhythm kick-started and get more sleep.
I wanted to limit the use of Melatonin because we are trying to expand our family and there is research suggesting it impacts hormone levels. Months into this process however, I find I don’t need them as much and that makes me really smile because it means that my body has started making the sleep signal on its own again!
If you’ve tried everything and can’t get to sleep, talk to your doctor about adding this for a few days or even a few weeks. A side note: there are different doses and different types of melatonin supplements. If you are a vegan / vegetarian, seek out advice on your options as animal products are used in a good portion of them.
No Late Exercise
Having your own exercise equipment or being part of a 24 hour gym means you can take advantage of that time after the kiddo has gone to bed. After trial and error, I learned that working out late in the day doesn’t work for me. I always feel energized after getting a good workout and I follow it up with an invigorating shower, which did the opposite of what I wanted – to get more sleep. Which brings me to…
A few times a week, I run in the mornings before anyone in the house is awake. I get up at 5:20, get dressed, and I’m out the door 5 minutes later. I only run a few miles, with the whole jog taking about 30 minutes with some static stretching right before I go back inside. If you’re not a runner, find what works for you. I started out walking, moved up to a walk / run sequence (Couch to 5k or Ease Into 5k apps work well), and now jog it.
Waking up with exercise not only helps to make me make better food choices throughout the day, but it also gets done and out if the way in case I get busy (or lazy). If I opt for a Zumba session, kick boxing class, or even a yoga routine in the late-morning or early afternoon, great but if not, I still know I got my heart rate up and worked my body a bit. That bit of physical exertion always helps me get more sleep.
I will say that I’m not a fan of “two-a-days” or anything, but exercising makes me want to exercise more. Does that make sense? I promise you, I’m not a glutton for punishment or anything, it’s just that it’s kind of addicting.
Does anyone remember the movie, “Legally Blonde?” The scene where Reese Whitherspoon says, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” So yeah, there’s that benefit, too, I suppose.
Caffeine and Hidden Stimulants
If you’re a long time reader of the ‘Boots, you know that I like my coffee. I am also a gal who is greatly affected by caffeine – I can easily turn into that person who is bouncing off the walls! Now, I limit myself to no more than about 10 ounces a day, with all coffee consumed before 9 am. This is not necessary for everyone and is even a bit of overkill, but for me having a hard and fast rule is easy to follow.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t drink soda or caffeinated tea, sticking only to water or decaf green tea after my morning coffee. If you do have caffeinated drinks throughout the day, it’s probably a safe bet to seek non-caffeinated alternatives after lunch. When I started ‘upping’ my water intake years back, I would whip up fruit-infused waters. Some of my favorites were watermelon, cucumber and lemon water, and strawberry water.
When I want something with a bit more kick, I grab a carbonated mineral water flavored with lime. It’s a great addition to flavored water or on its own and the best part is that it doesn’t have added sugar.
Dyes and preservatives are stimulants and are in most prepackaged foods and drinks. If you have limited your caffeine but still feel energized in the evenings, it might be beneficial to take a look at your last meal or dessert. There are so many ‘extras’ in food nowadays that labels really require more than a cursory glance.
I have no idea if there is any science behind it and it might be entirely anecdotal, but I have found that when I eat a dinner without meat (but have a dinner from plant proteins), I tend to get that tired feeling without a need for anything else.
I haven’t done any research into it yet, but when looking back at my food journal, I find that it’s true for me the majority of the time. Perhaps starting a food journal could lend some insights into your habits, too. I’m not talking about counting calories here, just writing down what you’re eating and the time. It can shed light on your how your food affects you.
Get More Sleep: White Noise, Snoring, and Ear Plugs
When our daughter was born, we started using a ‘white’ noise system in her room and even took it with us on our phones and kindles with purchased apps. Living in rainy Seattle, we chose to leave the programs on the rain sounds and now we all love using it! It really helps to minimize interruptions for me, so if you haven’t tried to work some noise into your room, it sure wouldn’t hurt to try.
Do you have a snorer sleeping next to you? My guy snores sometimes and if I’m listening to it, I’m focusing on it. If I’m focusing on it, I’m not sleeping. I would wake up for any number reasons, but I would stay up because all I need is a few glow sticks and I can pretend I’m at a rave, complete with a bass line to end all bass lines…
I started using the softest, squishiest ear plugs and I am amazed at how well they mute the snoring fella next to me. I think it’s a mom thing, but I can still hear my daughter if she wakes up. Yeah, that’s probably every mother, right? Anyway, these earplugs have been working great for me (affiliate link for convenience).
These are just some of the things I have done to get the successful results in fighting my insomnia naturally. I hope by sharing these, it gives others some ideas to help them accomplish the same. Speaking of sharing, would you please Pin these tips to a board on Pinterest?
Now over to you – what are your tips for getting sleep? Do you follow a routine or are you struggling like so many of us?
If you’re looking for more on how to get more sleep naturally, here are other posts we’ve shared: