Monday, April 7, 2014

Confessions of an Insomniac: Natural Sleep Tips

As a self proclaimed insomniac (yes the real kind, not the "I like to stay up at night" kind) I know a thing or two about trying to wind down and shut my brain off in order to get a good night's rest.

Some say that insomniacs are highly intelligent individuals who just can't stop the wheels in their heads from turning (cool right?) but the truth is, not getting a good enough sleep is really dangerous, especially for those of us who suffer from this at a young age. A New Study Out Recently From Taiwan shows that insomniacs have a greater chance of having a stroke than those who get a good sleep every night. Insomniacs are also at greater risks for diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

It's easy to become an insomniac when you're in the midst of college or university and you stay up late trying to get all those papers and assignments done last minute.

But enough with the why's and the statistics. Today I am going to share with you some of my favourite tips for winding down the mind and hopefully getting some decent shut eye. I like to follow a routine. I find that most insomniacs (in my experience; yes it's different for everyone) lack a lot of routine in their lives and often can never get on a good sleep schedule but for me, creating a little routine before bed (regardless of when I am going to sleep that night) helps my body and brain to understand that it is time to shut off.

Tip # 1: Take a Warm Shower

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Taking a warm shower, for me, is very relaxing and sets the scene for my next few tips. The warm water temperature is very calming and soothing. I like to use my Nivea Harmony Time Shower Cream which has a wonderful Rose and Almond scent that is very calming.

After, I get out of the shower, I don't like to be awake for more than 2 hours because I find that once I go past the 2 hour mark, I loose my "sleepiness" and insomnia kicks in again.

Tip #2: Drink Some Hot (Decaffeinated) Tea

Tea can help almost anything and it certainly works to help relax you and put you in a peaceful and restful state of mind. The most important thing is to stay away from caffeinated tea's at night, whether that be naturally caffeinated or not. My favourite is the Twinnings Lemon & Ginger because both the lemon and ginger help calm my stomach and IBS issues. I also really enjoy Stash Peppermint Tea anytime of the day but it is also caffeine free so it is good for night time as well. The Tazo Calm Tea is also great for night time because it is not only caffeine free but it contains chamomile which helps to relax you because it has very mild sedating properties that help ease your body.

Tip #3: Do Some Bedtime Yoga

Yoga is great at all times of the day. I love to do a bit of morning yoga to get my body moving and start the day off right and luckily there are some great bedtime yoga routines that you can follow to help you get a peaceful, continuous sleep.

*If you are looking for a great Yoga Mat. Try the brand Gaiam. I have the Twig Yoga Mat, which is discontinued now but they have many very similar designs all for a great, affordable price. 

Here are some of my favourite Bedtime Yoga Videos. They are all on YouTube so you can watch them for no cost.

1) Bedtime Yoga Sequence by Yoga with Adriene

2) Routine for a Deep Sleep by Tara Stiles

3) Bedtime Yoga by Ekhart Yoga

4) Yoga for Better Sleep by YogaYak

5) Clear Your Mind Routine by Tara Stiles

6) Relaxing Bedtime Yoga by Tara Stiles

Tip #4: Read a Good Book

Skip the technology at night; that means no TV, Laptop, iPhone, or iPad; I know this is hard but so many studies have show that using technological objects keep your brain wide awake which is not what you want. Reading a chapter or two of a book before bed is a good way to get out of thinking about the stresses of the world and delving into another world. I will caution you maybe not to read too deep of a novel before bed. This new one, that currently occupies my bedside table is called Thrive by Arianna Huffington it is a great read and she actually talks about the importance of sleep and rest for your body as well.

If you are not sure what book to dive into next, check out the "Meg Reads" section of our blog here where my lovely co-writer reads some great books and writes some amazing book reviews on them.

Tip #5: Pamper Yourself 

It may sound silly but pampering yourself just a bit right before bed can definitely help build up your routine and give you a little treat before bed that you can look forward to. I use three products right before bed that my routine would not be complete without. I use my Bath and Body Works Cashmere Glow Body Lotion all over to keep my dry skin moisturized. I also really love the Vaseline Intensive Care Healthy Hand & Nail Conditioning hand Lotion which works wonders for my dry, sometimes cracked hands. The last thing that I do is apply a lip balm because it really helps my chapped lips and I find that if I am diligent with this every single night, I rarely experience extreme chapped lips. I love the Dior Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm because it smells wonderful and it gets the job done.

Tip #6: Use a Night Spray

I have talked about the Febreze Sleep Serenity line in a favourites post before and I still use it every night. It releases a calming scent and I feel like, with nightly use, your body just recognizes the scent and knows it's time for bed. My favourite scents are the Warm Milk & Honey and the Moonlit Lavender.

So there you have it. Here are the things I do to help me get a good night's rest. I will admit, as a true insomniac, some days are harder than others but by sticking to a routine that I can count on every night, it gets easier to fall asleep on my own without having to use "un-natural" methods and every day that you can skip the not so healthy options and create a good routine, the better.

Make sure to let me know in the comments if you have any tips that help you fall asleep at night and get a good, restful sleep.

- Cate.

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