I had SUCH a hard time sleeping a few years ago that I had to go to a sleep specialist and do a sleep study. They hook you up to all kinds of machines and put sensors on your head, face and legs. They put a belt with wires and cables around your waist and they put a sensor in your nose to see how well you’re breathing over night. Amazing how they think that you can sleep like that but apparently I was able to fall asleep although the sleep wasn’t good at all!
I am extremely sensitive to noise while I’m sleeping and every time they would walk down the hall or open a door or cabinet outside my room I would wake up. When the doctor reviewed the results with me he said that there are people who are woken up by breathing issues or restless leg issues but then there are others whose brain just wakes up randomly for no apparent reason. Well, I and so many other fibromyalgia patients fit into that last category. There was no reason why my brain kept waking up and he said that because of that there was nothing that he could do for me other than putting me on heavy duty sleep drugs.
Since I have always been fighting for a drug free life I told him thanks but no thanks and I set out to discover the best natural sleep remedies for me. It was a lot of trial and error and not all of them work all the time but for the most part these things have really helped me to sleep through the night.
1. Red clover & star anise tea ?Star anise is a powerful culinary and medicinal spice that has been used for thousands of years and is rich in vitamin C, calcium and iron. It contains potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and is particularly good for treating the flu. In fact, star anise contains a compound called shikimic acid which is used to make the common anti-viral drug Tamiflu. It also has sedative properties and is helpful to take before bed to ensure a good night’s sleep. I pair the star anise with a medicinal herb called red clover and make a tea out of it. The red clover is a powerful liver detox so drinking the tea before bedtime will help you not only fall asleep but it also will help your liver detox while you sleep. I use 2 teaspoons of red clover and 1/2 of a star anise in a tea strainer and steep for about 10 minutes. I get my herbs form Mountain Rose Herbs and I always buy the smaller 4oz bags of herbs because they take me a few months to go through! I get my star anise from Thrive Market (they’re an online organic grocery store).
2. Use lavender oil. This is one of my favorites! When I discovered essential oils a few years ago I knew that lavender was calming but it wasn’t until I starting putting a drop of the oil on my finger and rubbing it under my nose that I really felt the full power of what lavender oil can do. Taking a few deep breaths after rubbing it under your nose really calms everything down and allows you to rest more peacefully. Some people find that the area under their nose is a little sensitive so for those people I recommend putting it in diffuser. I got my diffuser from Amazon. Here is a link to some of my favorites http://amzn.to/1YO5ATn. Once you have your diffuser you would just fill with water and put anywhere from 3-7 drops of lavender oil. I like to get diffusers that turn off automatically so that when I’m sleeping I don’t have to worry about it running all night, even after the water is all used up.
3. Sleep in a cool room. Once I realized that room temperature was a big deal it made SUCH a difference in my sleep. In the winter we keep the heat low, around 60 and just pile on the blankets. Over the summer we turn the AC down to around 73 or 74 and keep the ceiling fan on. Some people like it cooler but that temperature seems to work well for me. If it’s even one degree higher, 75, somehow my body knows and I can’t sleep. Just experiment with the temperature until you find the one that works best for you, and doesn’t freeze the rest of your house 😉
4. Ear plugs! I discovered ear plugs on a trip where I had to share the hotel room with my mother. She is a bit of a loud snorer and she fortunately brought ear plugs with her and gave me a pair. It was amazing! Being able to not wake up for every little sound was so refreshing. I just get the foam ear plugs that they sell in the pharmacy section of the store. I’ve found them to be the most comfortable but you can experiment with a few different kinds but that’s what has worked best for me. Here is a link to a set on Amazon to give you a reference http://amzn.to/1Ur6DIh
5. Sleep in a super dark room! Try to not have any alarm clock lights or if you do make sure they aren’t distracting. There are certain colors that people find easier to sleep with. I personally prefer to not have the alarm clock light at all so I just use my cell phone as an alarm clock. I also have invested in some really good black out curtains. Unless you’re one that likes to wake up with the sun then I’d highly recommend getting a good pair. I also make sure that there are no lights on outside the room and if there is then I shut the door that it’s coming from or shut the bedroom door. Any sliver of light coming in from any window is enough to wake me up!
6. Put your do not disturb on your cell phone! This will keep your phone not only silent but it will also keep it from sending you notifications over night where the light might wake you up, Yes! I am that sensitive! Even a vibrating cell phone across the room will wake me up so do not disturb is a must! ? If your phone doesn’t have a do not disturb setting then turn it off or make sure that you turn the sound and vibration off and keep it face down while you’re sleeping. I’ve accidentally left my iPad laying open near the bed before and been woken up by a darn Periscope or email notification!
7. Get comfy! Find the perfect pillow, get some super soft sheets and blanket. I have been compared to the Princess and the Pea when I sleep. I like the sheets to be perfectly flat and my blankets to be laid out just right or else I can’t sleep. I actually have my own blankets that I don’t share with my partner because any tug or movement would wake me up. We also went as far as buying a huge King size memory foam mattress, you know the kind where you can bounce on it and not spill a glass of wine. That way the bed doesn’t bounce when he rolls over or the dog jumps on the bed. Yep, that sensitive! I also got myself a memory foam pillow. I tried a bunch of different ones but this pillow seemed to work the best for me because my fibro tends to flare in my neck. This pillow has a contour bump on both sides. One is thicker than the other. I use the smaller bump normally but during a flare I will use the larger bump. I also have a small pillow propping my arm up so that there isn’t a lot of strain on my shoulder. Prop your legs if you have to. Get a body pillow. Experiment and find what works best for you.
What are your favorite night time sleep rituals? Do you read or meditate or journal or lay in bed and watch tv? I’d love to hear about your sleep habits and if any of the above have helped you if you were able to try them! xx
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