Sleep is so important but it can be so elusive. Personally, I’ve always been able to sleep well, especially if I exercise each day. But there have been times it has escaped me. Each instance took extensive work and a well-researched self-designed program to be able to get back to a regular schedule.
Challenges to my sleep have been:
- Parenting infants, and young children.
- Travelling across time zones which caused jet lag. When I wrote this blog, I had just traveled from Iceland to England. Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice, but also the land of the midnight sun. In June, the sun can set around 11pm and then rise around 3:20 am. Complete darkness exists for only an hour. That posed a double whammy to sleep – jet lag and a lack of darkness.
- Overwhelming emotions such as grief. In June of 2013, my father died. I was overcome with overwhelming fatigue. I felt like a deflated balloon. It was an exhaustive type of fatigue that prevented me from thinking clearly, getting my usual exercise, and restful sleep. I believe it was soul exhaustion.
- Studying. From 2016 to 2018 I studied with an online program for my doctorate in Physical Therapy through A.T. Still University which was based in Arizona. Arizona time was either 2 or 3 hours earlier than Ohio. If a paper or project was due by midnight Arizona time, that meant I could turn it in at 2 or 3am Ohio time. Sad to say, I often took advantage of the time differences because – procrastination and I can be close buddies.. Those late college hours were difficult to keep for this 50-something year-old! After graduation, I had to reset my clock.
When your internal clock is set, you will automatically wake up at the same time each day without an alarm. It can be hard to believe that one does not need an alarm clock or a pharmaceutical to fall asleep and stay asleep or one to wake up – but it is possible!
While traveling and after my doctoral studies, I needed to get back to this normal circadian rhythm. I did with some diligent practice, and I’d like to share with you some of my tips. So … here we go.
What I did to sleep in Iceland;
- At the time I wanted to sleep, I put on a white noise app on my phone (of which I actually use the brown noise option on the app). The other option is to use ear plugs. I wore an eye mask, and used the room darkening curtains. Darkness signals your body that it’s time to go to sleep. HERE are some white noise apps.
- I turned off all my electronics one to two hours before going to sleep. After the sun set and artificial light was on, I used blue-light blocking glasses to read. These glasses can be ordered from Amazon. I have reader glasses that are from Swanick. You can check out some Swannie’s HERE.
- I took melatonin, a natural sleep aid. I sometimes use Liposomal Melatonin by BioPure. I recently have found a vegan version of melatonin called HERBATONINPRO Many herbs are helpful as well such as chamomile. Other helpful herbs are – Valerian Root, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Passionflower, and Magnolia Bark. The liposomal melatonin and other BioPure products can be found HERE.
- Essential oils can be helpful. I often use a SLEEP blend from organic Vibrant Blue Oils that has Orange, tangerine, blue tansy, ylang ylang, lavender, lime, spikenard and citronella which is from Vibrant Blue Oils. These oils can be dabbed behind the ears, sprinkled on your pillow, diffused, or even massaged onto your body or feet. If taking a hot bath is an option, sprinkle in some of those calming essential oils. Also mix in some epsom or magnesium and potassium salts. Organic Vibrant Blue Oils can be found HERE.
- I often relax my nervous system with an inversion of elevating my legs higher than my heart. I prop my legs up on some pillows or use the headboard. This is called the Viparita Karani yoga posture, or “legs up the wall pose.”
- The above posture is perfect to practice belly or abdominal breathing, in which the belly rises and falls while breathing through the nostrils. I attempt to lengthen the exhale to a 8-12 count while flattening the belly and then inhale as long as it feels comfortable. I do several cycles or at least 5 minutes of this.
- Adding on a sleep inducing Yoga Nidra meditation to this scenario, is a triple whammy leading to snooze world. My favorite sleepytime meditation is on the Insight Meditation app. I always fall asleep before the 20-minute meditation ends. The free Insight Timer app can be found HERE.
- I try to catch the sunrise and sunset each day to let light enter my eyes. This is super helpful to reset my clock. This technique would not be helpful in countries with long days or nights like Iceland or for cloudy and rainy days elsewhere. Technology comes to the rescue in these situations with a device called the Human Charger. This device shines light into your ears for 10 minutes and helps to wake up the brain. The Human Charger can be checked out HERE.
- I always try to do some sort of exercise or movement early in the day when cortisol levels are the highest. This movement wakes up the nervous system. Even a brisk walk is helpful. Preferably in the fresh air and sunshine. On the flipside, I try to minimize or not do heavy exercise later in the day. Cortisol levels are lower then and it is too too stimulating to the nervous system.
So, that’s it!!
Hope this post was helpful to you so you can have sweet dreams and many productive happy days.
Catch you next time.
And, Be Well.
Disclaimers: No connection or income is made from any products listed above except for – an affiliate connection with Vibrant Blue Oils, a distributor for BioPure products and as a provider of supplements through FullScript. This information is not meant to qualify as medical advice. Please see your health care practitioner for proper individualized medical advice.