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How To Sleep Better Despite The Time Change

Posted by Cat Canada on

Falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, sleeping through the night, waking up feeling rested, these are just a few of the things I seldom experience. Unlike so many people who can settle into bed and have sleep grace them from the heavens, I have to summon better sleep with all sorts of tricks and strategies.

Years ago, before the prescription-required sleep-aid Ambien became a controversial and not-recommended drug, I was given a very large dose of it to help my quest to catch those coveted zzz’s. And for the three years, I took it, I did indeed get a lot of sleep – delirious sleep accompanied by conversations I don’t remember having, sleepwalking I don’t remember doing, and an uncomfortable reliance on something that knocked me out within five minutes of taking it. This wasn’t a healthy habit to keep up, and as much as I loved being able to sleep, I knew there had to be a better way.

So how is a human supposed to get some quality sleep?

Just like The Beatles, I get by with a little help from my friends. And by friends, I mean a sleep routine I have perfected over plenty of trial, error and restless nights. Whether you are a fellow insomniac, or just simply looking to cure the occasional toss-and-turn, here’s the sleep routine I swear by.

Turn off the phone

I will be the first to say I don’t always listen to my own advice, and when it comes to this advice, I always regret it. An hour before I am planning on going to sleep, I put my phone on Do Not Disturb mode and put it face down next to my bed. I could link to articles explaining why being on your phone right before bed is unhealthy, but you’re smart – you already know. How many times have you “checked Instagram for five minutes” only to look at the clock and realize two hours have gone by? Even if you can’t commit to an hour, once you are in bed, don’t pull out your phone. Giving yourself even ten minutes will help settle your brain down.

Legs up a wall

Lay on the floor and put your legs up against the wall. That’s it. It feels good and every yogi will tell you how it helps relax your body and get it ready for sleep. I’m just a normal person who pretends I can do yoga so trust me when I say, it really does work. I try to sit like this for 30 minutes, usually while reading a book. You could do it while listening to a podcast, or music, or even watching TV.

Get in the mood

Rainy Mood that is. Rainy Mood, a free app and website, puts me to sleep faster than any drugstore sleep-aid. Falling asleep to the sound of rain is universally soothing. This app lets you choose between countryside rain (think crickets chirping and thunder), ocean rain (ocean waves), or just a classic rain sound. I switch it on right as I get in bed. Yes, I have to use my phone for it, but I go straight to the app and put my phone back down. If you are going to do anything on this list, do this one. After using it for a year now, my body is trained to fall asleep as soon as the rain starts. I’ve even started using it to sleep during long flights.

Give yourself some air

Yes, I know it is winter, you are cold, and the thought of fresh air sounds freezing, but hear me out. Even cracking your window the smallest amount will help clear the stale air that accumulates while you sleep. I leave my window open year round, and I have lived in cities with the most frigid of winters. That’s what blankets are for.

I also like candles, chamomile tea, and the smell of lavender, but I believe that while those things make me comfortable, they alone wouldn’t put me to sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep comes down to being able to calm your mind, unload the weight of your day, and settle down. Some people swear by working out before bed, some people need the television on, the point is everyone is different. But this is what works for me, and maybe it will work for you. Or maybe it will inspire you to find your own routine, to stop settling for restless nights and start reaching for dreams – the kind that comes when your eyes are shut.

I, for one, have to go put my legs up a wall.