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If you’re like me, every so often you wake up in the middle of the night. It doesn’t really matter if it’s the kids or your chatty mind waking you up. Trouble is, once you’re awake, you probably find it frustratingly difficult to get back to sleep. One of my girlfriends recently went to a sleep clinic to solve her insomnia issues and she came away with a fantastic trick for getting back to sleep.
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Tips to ensure a good night sleep
First, you’ve got to cover the basics. First, ensure your room is totally dark. Worth the investment are blackout drapes in addition to blinds. Blackout curtains aren’t just for babies rooms. I bought mine at Restoration Hardware, but you can find great, affordable blackout curtains in lots of places now. You also ought to limit the electronic devices in your room such as digital clocks, the PC power light, etc….
A bath before bed is also an effective way to usher in a good night’s sleep. Hot baths in the morning seem to drain me of energy, but before bed it sets the tone and it’s a fight to keep my eyelids open once I hit the sack.
If you want to get technical, there are sleep trackers that can help pinpoint when you’re not sleeping and why. Check out this Oura ring review.
How to get back asleep
So what happens after you’ve done all the things you’re supposed to do and you’re still waking up in the middle of the night? Tempting as it may be to crank out a few work emails or power up Netflix, you really shouldn’t go on your computer. If a work issue is troubling you, jot it down on paper instead. You may be tempted to pick up a great read, but don’t! The biggest takeaway from the sleep clinic is that you should opt for something to occupy your mind, but it can’t be too stimulating.
Instead of tearing through a bestseller, keep something drier on your bedside table. With an awesome book, your mind will become engaged and before you know it, you’ll have spent two hours reading. You’re better off reaching for a catalog or cookbook, something that’s mildly interesting to you, but not super exciting.
I keep a few non-fiction titles beside my bed and they seem to do the trick. Currently on rotation is I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam and the BabyCakes cookbook. It’s official title is: BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About Bakery. I love it. Best gingerbread ever! It’s also a fantastic gift for anyone who loves baking, but wants to cut out milk, flour or sugar. Yeah, that’s a tall order, but it’s possible with this celebrity endorsed cookbook.
Meditation for insomnia
Something else that’s working for me is meditation. Headspace is an awesome app with 10 free meditations to download. You’re supposed to do it when you’re awake, but the techniques are great for clearing your mind and bringing you to a very relaxed state. I’m also reading 8 Minute Meditation on those nights when I need more support.
This is super embarrassing to admit, but another trick when I don’t want to turn on the light is to think about… the royal family. Hear me out: I can’t think about work or family or friends. My mind will just spin from one issue to the next. And I can’t think about travel because that’s too close to work for me. But the royal family is a very safe topic. I can let my mind drift back to the latest headlines and let it peaceful jump from topic to topic without getting worked up.
Last night I started thinking about Megan’s outfits on her tour of Australia. She’s definitely past 16-weeks, I think. How much access does she have to the Queen’s jewelry collection? Will Doria be allowed to spend Christmas with her? After 10-minutes of happy royal family thoughts, I drifted back to sleep.
Embarrassingly, I have a whole arsenal of sleep props to pull out when the need arises. Even though our bedroom is dark, I throw on my eye mask so the light between the doorway crack won’t disturb me. And I swear by my noise canceling headphones. I used to use a $50 pair I bought from Target, but would wake up with sore ears. These Bose headphones are worth the investment. I’m surprised I made it through the toddler years (when we were swapping off early a.m. duty) without them.
Do you have a problem with waking in the middle of the night? What do you do to get yourself back to sleep?