For many of us, sleep is never particularly easy to find. Whether you suffer from sleep anxiety, you're cramming in a little too much screen time or you just can't seem to switch off, insomnia is more common than you think. Especially now, during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Anxiety is high, stressors are everywhere and being cooped up all day does nothing to help tire your body for a night of peaceful sleep.
I've not suffered with insomnia chronically. But during times of high-anxiety, I'll find myself staring at the ceiling for hours, begging sleep to come. It's awful. So, I'm sharing the things (big and small) that have helped me now and in the past get to sleep a little easier. Hopefully, some of these can help you too.
I walked into my local chemist one day and was very taken with the soothing smell of tea tree in the air. When I approached the counter I found it was coming from a cold steam vapouriser. It's a little contraption that apparently makes air easier to breathe for asthmatics and those with respiratory infections. Since so much of sleep health is about breathing, this device has been a bit of a saviour when I've been ill. Add a few drops of your favourite oils, it can delicately perfume the air and help lull you to sleep.
I originally bought mine to help with a bad cough, but I now use it as a sleep aid. Fill the water to the line and you'll get a solid 8 hours of run time, so you can leave it on while you're sleeping. My favourite oils to pair with the device are eucalyptus and tea tree. From memory, mine was $80. You can find a decent selection of these devices at most chemists.
Image: oilgardenbyronbay on Instagram
While simple, these have also helped me achieve sleep where I once thought it impossible. In particular, the 4-7-8 technique has helped me immensely. Whether it helps me reach sleep via mindfulness, or whether the extended breathing has a benefit I'm unaware of, this technique has put me out when even sleeping pills haven't. It might not be for everyone, but while you're awake, you might as well try it.
Image: Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash
Lavender pillow spray
For me, this soothing smell does make a difference to calm a busy mind. I use about two to three sprays on my pillow right before I put my head down. It's a really small gesture, but it does make life feel that little bit more luxurious. I've used two, L'Occitane Relaxing Pillow Mist and the Feather & Down Sweet Dreams Pillow Spray.
Image: Adore Beauty
I know that these are an expensive purchase in normal times - so I understand that these may be a little out of reach for many right now. Regardless, I can't ignore the difference that they've made to my sleep health. Linen is a much cooler fabric than cotton. So if you're someone that gets really hot and uncomfortable during the night, these are a godsend. They keep me warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot. I have a couple of sets from Bed Threads which is personally my favourite brand because of the colour selection. I have Navy and Rust. If you have a birthday coming up, pop these on your wishlist.
Image: Bed Threads
Switching to evening mode on my phone
iPhones have something called Night Shift - an evening mode which you can set to automatically turn on at a certain time. It removes the blue light from your display, leaving behind the reddish and yellow tones. Our brains are hardwired to see blue light as a trigger to be awake, since morning light is generally blue. But red light, like that of a sunset, triggers our brains to sleep. If you find you can't put your phone down around bedtime, this will make a bit of difference. I know it has for me.
Image: Photo by Dewang Gupta on Unsplash
A sleep mask
It's a little old school, by your grandma wears one of these for a reason. They keep the light away for sensitive and light sleepers. I have two that I rotate, a black, weighted and scented one, I can't remember where I got it unfortunately, and then I have a silk one from Slip. I like the scented one for cold, cosy nights. But I use the silk one when I've had my eyelashes recently lifted because it helps protect them from falling out during my inevitable tossing and turning. If your sleep is disturbed by light at all, I can definitely recommend a mask.
Image: alexbrownhair on Instagram