Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

woman sleeping

Confession: I’ve always struggled to fall asleep at night. I’ve pretended to lie on a beach, I’ve counted sheep and I’ve consumed more than my share of warm milk. It’s bananas, I tell you! After way too many restless nights, I graduated to things as intense as brain biofeedback treatment (a technology that alters brain waves), valerian root (a supplement used to treat sleep and anxiety), yoga and melatonin (a hormone our body produces that aids in sleeping).

Nothing worked for me (although those are all great options that some people achieve amazing results with). But I persevered, and after trying about a zillion other things, I finally found a selection of products and items that I count on every night. Behold, my top five tricks to catching quality zzzz’s—plus some other amaze products that are worth a shot!

Sleep Deprivation 2 Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

BUT FIRST! WHY NODDING OFF IS GOOD FOR YOU

Sleep deprivation and difficulty falling asleep aren’t just annoying—they’re huge roadblocks to good health, a calm mind and beautiful skin. I mean, c’mon, there’s obvs a reason it’s called beauty sleep. Essentially, those seven to 10 hours in dreamland allow your body—including your skin—to repair and regenerate. I don’t need to be the one to tell you that without the proper amount (or quality) of sleep, you’re more susceptible to depression, weight gain, inflammation, stress (which leads to advanced aging—wrinkles—and worsening of acne), insulin resistance, dark circles under your eyes, a dull complexion and puffy skin. Um, gross. Pass. One study even found that sleep-deprived individuals appear less healthy, more tired, and less attractive than those who have received a full night’s worth of sleep.

So in an effort to save myself from the horrible list of side effects above (!), here’s what I’ve discovered works for me.

1. A WHITE NOISE MACHINE

51622 marpac sleepmate 980a1 Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

OMG. This thing is to die for—it sounds kinda like a rushing waterfall or wind blowing through trees. Love! I did a lot of research before buying one, and finally chose the Marpac SleepMate; it’s a best seller and has gotten crazy good reviews online. There’s also a great one by Obus Forme which has a timer so you can set it to turn off after 30 or 60 minutes. Mine doesn’t have that option, but I like to leave it on ’til I wake up anyway, because it drowns out any sound throughout the night (I’m a light sleeper, obvs) and I find the noise super-soothing.

2. LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL

pillowpotion Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

I mix about 15-20 drops of Aura Cacia’s Pillow Potion oil in a spray bottle with distilled water and mist it over my sheets. I also have a jar of pure lavender oil beside my bed which I stick in a diffuser (like this one) to really let it permeate the room. Something about the scent just really helps me relax and quiet my thoughts. Obsessed!

3. HERBAL TEA

sleep tea yogi tea bedtime tea Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

Right now I’m using Bio-Vita #7 tea that my Chinese medicine doctor gave me (which I love, but my boyfriend says smells like sweaty socks… SO not true!). In the past, I’ve also used Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night tea and Yogi Bedtime tea, and both have worked like a dream (get it?). Some ingredients you wanna look for in a sleep-aid tea include chamomile, valerian, skullcap, passionflower, St. John’s Wort and lavender. Drink a cup about 1/2 an hour before bed and try to tell me you don’t feel chilled out.

4. A SLEEP MASK AND EAR PLUGS

Life Candy sleep mask Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

 

Making your room cool, dark and quiet is key to a good night’s sleep, so unless you have blackout curtains or sleep in a cave, break out the sleep mask. I know I wrote about them here, but in addition to rocking one on the plane, I use it every night at home, too. I swear, sleep masks can be super-cute! I pair mine with some ear plugs and I’m good to go (I know—I’m a real treat to share a bedroom with).  As for the earplugs, I know I have my white noise machine, but sometimes the seagulls and birds near our apartment are crazy loud in the mornings, and without earplugs, I’m up at 5 a.m. Not a happy camper. I swear by these babies.

5. EXERCISE

tennis exercise for kids Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

I find that when I work out two or three times a week, I sleep sooo much better. Unfortunately I’m lazy and often let this one fall by the wayside. Big mistake. BIG. HUGE. But seriously, who wants to go to the gym after working an eight hour day? Props to those of you who do it, ’cause I’d rather eat a yummy dinner and read a book or watch TV on the couch. The Mayo Clinic, however, says that regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. If only I could get a personal trainer to come to my house and force me to exercise… Perf. Problem solved.

So those are my go-to sleep aids, but there are lots of other prodz in my rotation! Some other faves—and some I’m keen to check out—include The Body Shop’s Deep Sleep Essential Oil:

deep sleep essential oil z Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

Lush Dream Cream Body Lotion:

 

Lush dream cream Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

Bach Rescue Sleep Spray:

bach rescue sleep spray 1303932570 LRG Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

Bath & Body Works Lavender Chamomile Pillow Mist:

pillow mist Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshedand Crabtree & Evelyn Comforting Body Night Cream:

crabtree Trouble sleeping? Here are 5 things that work for me—plus some fab prodz to help you wake up glowing and refreshed

Elizabeth Oborne is a Vancouver-based writer and holistic nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter: @elizabethedits.

Your turn!

Do YOU have trouble falling asleep?
What’s your best sleep tip?
Which of these prodz have you tried?

18 Comments

Nomadic D
Wednesday, September 7/2011 at 12:04 pm

I often have bouts of insomnia, and it is the worst. And people who don’t ever get it just don’t understand how horrible it is. I’m really curious about the white noise machine, I’ve always wondered, and such a ringing endorsement from you just makes it all the more tempting. My tricks are – no music after 10 pm (sounds weird, I know, but I’m really susceptible to getting songs stuck in my head that play over and over and won’t let me sleep), no deep conversations about plans or the future around bedtime (number 1 thing that keeps me awake), and I always, always have to read, with very little light so I’m a little squinty. May not be the best thing for my eyes but it sure does make me sleepy.

http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

Reply

Elizabeth
Wednesday, September 7/2011 at 11:10 pm

Not talking about future plans is so key!! Totally agree with you on that one. And I wish reading did the same thing for me! I’d stay up all night to finish my book if I read at bedtime!

Reply

Nomadic D
Thursday, September 8/2011 at 12:13 am

The key is not to read anything too gripping. I started one novel that I loved too much and it was too well written so now it’s just sitting there neglected because it wakes me up rather than puts me to sleep! Kind of ironic, the guy wrote to well to be read… But really, you need something only mildly interesting, that’s the key.

http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

Reply

QuiteLight
Wednesday, September 7/2011 at 12:29 pm

I’m a long time insomniac as well. Over the years, yoga has made the biggest difference for me. When I practice regularly, i just sleep better & longer. It took a long time to slowly build my practice up, but I saw the benefits almost immediately. I do find that I can’t come straight home from class & go to bed, though, it sometimes disrupts me to relaaaaax… wake up & drive, then try to sleep. I need to be awake for another 1.5 hrs or so.

Recently, melatonin has ousted my old faithful Sleep-Eeze-D Extra Strength Gel Caps. I am in awe! So gentle, & I sleep! For hours! I have shaken off prescription drugs, but this works for me.

Reply

Elizabeth
Wednesday, September 7/2011 at 11:11 pm

That’s awesome that melatonin works for you! I need to try yoga again, but I agree about having to drive home from class after being all relaxed… Thanks for sharing!

Reply

QuiteLight
Tuesday, September 13/2011 at 8:48 pm

I don’t go to class as often as I should since I started teaching! It’s just doing 20 minutes or so (plus relaxation) every day, every other day that made the difference. I did DVD’s until I felt like I could practice on my own at home for a long time. It’s a great way to get a yoga fix on a regular basis!

Reply

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 13/2011 at 7:00 pm

QuiteLight, do you take melatonin just before bed every night or only when you can’t sleep? How much do you take?

Reply

QuiteLight
Tuesday, September 13/2011 at 8:43 pm

Michelle, I take a single tablet of 5 mg. (Webber Naturals Extra Strength Melatonin) if I think I will have trouble sleeping, say if I was feeling anxious about something. Or, if my sleep has been disrupted (e.g. waking up a lot) for a couple of nights, I may take one as an insurance policy before something I need to be rested for, say a long highway drive or teaching my yoga class. So about 1-2 times a week?

I don’t want to get psychologically dependent on it, and I have fears of, say, my body deciding not to produce it if I take too much. It is a natural hormone. In my basic research into it, I didn’t see any mention of either, but why take chances?

However, it’s not fool-proof. I’m in a high-stress period right now, lots of change & financial challenges, and last night, like a ninny-hammer, I read a morbid, heavy book before bed. Apparently, that was one stressor too many! Even though I took a melatonin, I wound up getting about an hour of sleep. I had to call in sick for the morning, which I practically never do, to get 2-3 more hours. SO, no more Patricia Cornwall novels for me!

Reply

Ana P
Wednesday, September 7/2011 at 1:51 pm

Awe, sleep. I like that you wrote this, because it’s just as important to our bodies as it is to our beauty,right? I too have sleep probs. that I’ve struggled with since teen-hood.
I was reading this and thinking -hm, did I write this in my sleep and forgot? You listed all the prod./methods I use and try! LOVE the ear plugs and need them every night, along with the eye mask, mid sleep. I find if I use it all night I get more breakouts on my forehead….
I also use a natural prod. called Calms Forte. It’s super and is used to ease the “busy mind” us women are plagued by that can cause wakefulness. It’s non addictive (unlike other ani anxiety meds) so can be taken every night. When I can tell this isn’t going to work, I admit I use the age old remedy of – GRAVOL. If only I had the time to fit in regular yoga these days, I would def. be sleeping better too….YOGA is the cure for so many things! But that’s another story…Thanks for the article Elizabeth!

Reply

Elizabeth
Wednesday, September 7/2011 at 11:13 pm

Glad you liked it – funny that we’re so similar! I’m going to have to give Calms Forte another shot. I tried it a long time ago and can’t remember how it worked for me!

Reply

katherine
Wednesday, September 7/2011 at 3:39 pm

I struggle with falling asleep too! I’ve found a combo of a SleepE app on my Iphone, the scent of the Tata Harper Rejuventating Serum and avoiding the TV/iPad for an hour before crashing have helped for the last few weeks.

Reply

Elizabeth
Wednesday, September 7/2011 at 11:14 pm

Ooh, the SleepE app sounds interesting – and so does the Tata Harper serum! I’m dying to try her prodz!! Thanks for the reminder :)

Reply

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 13/2011 at 7:04 pm

Ahh Tata Harper. Still need to try that brand!

Reply

Janay
Wednesday, September 7/2011 at 6:14 pm

Thanks for the tips E! I’ve had trouble sleeping for years… that white noise machine sounds great. I have tried a couple of cheap ones but ended up having to return them because the sound emitted was more like a recording of white noise, which didn’t work!

Reply

Elizabeth
Wednesday, September 7/2011 at 11:15 pm

Yeah, the cheap ones suck; I’ve had the same experience. The one I have now though, while expensive, is totally worth it!

Reply

Lindsay
Thursday, September 8/2011 at 1:19 pm

I spray my sheets with lavender water also. I’ve tried some relaxation apps on my iPhone and a mask and ear plugs, but I discovered I really don’t like stuff stuck in my ears.

Yoga is definitely a key to my mental health and sleeping habits. I have a steam room at my gym, so if I spend a few minutes in there after 90 minutes of yoga, I’m total jell-o. It’s awesome.

Reply

Merri
Saturday, September 10/2011 at 7:51 pm

I just discovered your bog and have been reading here for quite a while; its very interesting!
I do Tai Chi which is very helpful to get one feeling more relaxed, so one is able to fall asleep faster and STAY asleep.
I also use lavender oil on those nights when sleep is elusive, but my best remedy is calcium/magnesium tablets. We women need calcium anyway and I find if I take 2 or 3 just before bed, I sleep like a baby!(it really relaxes!) :)

Reply

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 13/2011 at 7:05 pm

Great tip Merri! My ND used to tell me to do that, I need to start taking them again.

Reply

Leave a Comment