I am utterly apeshit for sleep.
I feel particularly drawn to it this time of year, when the days are short and every ounce of my body starts telling me to bake cookies and hibernate.
I'm also all about natural and unnatural solutions to life's problems. I believe in holistic health and western medicine. I believe in letting your eyebrows grow wild and filling them in with some fancy makeup products. I also believe in seeking out sleep in natural ways, and when that fails, I believe in exploring some artificial shortcuts.
Now that we're on the same page, here are the 16 hacks I swear by to get enough Z's:
1. Wake up early on a consistent basis and get a morning workout in.
This one is pretty straight-forward. If you get up early, you'll be tired earlier. Additionally, if you exercise vigorously, you'll be more tired in general, and will require more sleep. Some people like to work out in the evenings, which is great (get it in when you'll actually do it!) but I've heard that working out in the evening can make falling asleep harder since you're more wound up. Getting to a fitness studio that humbles me first thing in the morning not only keeps my butt looking good, it also makes me sleepy by about 9:00pm.
2. Utilize the Bedtime feature on your alarm clock app.
If you have an iPhone, you have this. The Bedtime feature allows you to set your wakeup time, decide how many hours of sleep you want or need to get, and determine how much time you need to wind down before drifting off (45 minutes for me). Once this is all set, your phone will kindly let you know when it's time to start putting your jammies on, reading a book, getting into bed, or doing whatever your evening ritual consists of so that you're asleep in time to get the hours you need. I'm going to categorize this as an unnatural tool that can assist with natural sleep.
3. Try to fall asleep and wake up with your circadian rhythm.
What's this, you ask? A circadian rhythm is the body's internal clock that runs in cycles. It sparks your energy at certain times of the day, and dips it at others. A lot of people respond well to falling asleep when it gets dark and waking when the sun starts to rise, which is why we all feel like fuzzy wuzzy bears who need extra sleep all winter. How's that for natural?
4. Nix the blue lights!
Speaking of light, I probably don't need to tell you that the blue light on your phone, iPad, or laptop is bad news before bedtime. If you read books or articles on your phone or must browse Instagram before hitting the hay, you can set your iPhone up with the Night Shift feature, which makes your screen a warmer color from sunset to sunrise. Nifty, huh? You can also opt for these hella dorky but super functional glasses that block blue light.
5. Change your sheets regularly.
This is a personal preference, but I like to wash my sheets once a week and my duvet cover once every two weeks or so. It makes me feel clean, which makes me feel relaxed. Also, dirty sheets are bad for your complexion.
6. Clean your room!
Your mom was right. An uncluttered bedroom is good for the soul and excellent for getting to sleep. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. It should be tidy, cozy, soft, and clean. Joe and I are ~pretty~ good about keeping our room clean but have both been known to hoard clothes piles from time to time. Nobody's perfect.
7. Drink a glass of wine.
I'm not typically a big weeknight drinker and never really do the one-drink-with-dinner thing. In general, it just makes me feel more full and adds calories that I'd rather consume via dessert. However, since I'm such a seldom drinker, a glass of wine can totally conk me out!
8. Take Advil PM or ZzzQuil.
Yeah guys, I said it. Do the most unnatural of the unnatural and pop a pill! I like Advil PM because I find anti-inflammatories generally useful for a handful of reasons, but ZzzQuil doesn't have ibuprofen in it and does the trick as well. I don't take these on a nightly basis, but keep them in the medicine cabinet for when I need quality sleep in a pinch.
9. Use a melatonin supplement.
Did the little blue pill talk make you shake your head? Well guess what? Sometimes I take melatonin too. There's some debate on the Internet over whether taking a supplement will fuck with your body's ability to produce it's own melatonin, but there's Internet debate over a lot of things and we all have our vices (sugar, coffee, bread, whatever) that help us get by. Do what you gotta do! If I'm feeling like an extra nasty woman, I'll take one of each (a melatonin tablet + an Advil PM) for a nice little sleep cocktail.
This blog isn't all sound advice PG admissions. It's taboo.
10. Make some healthy hot cocoa or non-caffeinated tea.
Well, I don't really like tea, and I'm sorry. No, I'm not sorry, but if I were a tea drinker, I feel it might boost my Instagram game. Anyway, since I don't drink tea, my bedtime hot bevvy of choice is Four Sigmatic's mushroom hot chocolate. Don't freak out about the mushrooms! You can't even taste them and they have apparent healing properties. I like plopping a few mini marshmallows in the brew, which makes it a sweet treat while keeping it light. Four Sigmatic also has coffee mixes, superfood blends, and mushroom chocolate, and you can get 10% off your order with my code: tabootextbook
11. Read paper books.
I've gone into detail about why I believe in reading paper books before bed. I realize some versions of the Kindle are available without backlit screens, which is better for the eyes, especially before bed, but mine broke. So here we are.
12. Invest in a good pillow.
You're a grownup and you don't need to buy shitty pillows from IKEA anymore (unless you want to; I'm not your boss). I've obviously named-dropped the MyPillow on my blog a couple of times and the reason I'm being such a broken record is because it's actually the best pillow. It's kinda like memory foam, but better. It's light, fluffy, squishy, and firm all at once, and since I frequently read in bed, I need to be real serious about my pillows. It comes with a 10-year warranty too, and I don't know about you, but I've never had a pillow that lasted 10 years and fully intend to call them up if I need a new one for any reason.
13. Keep one foot out from the covers.
Some people suggest keeping both feet in the open air for sleep, but I personally prefer one. Apparently, humans sleep better at a cooler temperature and this helps to regulate your body's heat. I also like to get into bed with some soft, warm socks on and then when I start to get sleepy, I'll take them off. For some reason, this puts me out like a light. I think it has something to do with the shock of the cold but I can't find an article that supports my theory right now.
14. Use [legal] recreational cannabis.
Oregon voted to legalize recreational marijuana a couple years ago. I'm not super into smoking regular pot, but I do like CBD, which has most of the same basic properties without getting you high in the head. It's everything I always wanted pot to be, if I'm honest. CBD can help with headaches, inflammation, pain, suppressed appetite, and insomnia. I recently wrote a piece on my experience with the legalization of recreational cannabis for the feminist lifestyle brand, Barbari, which you can check out here.
15. Put on a TV show or movie.
I know this hack is a controversial one, and I don't really care. Yes, I did preach no screens before bed a few tips ago, but hear me out. I think if playing a calm TV show (like a sitcom or The Daily Show) or a movie helps you get to sleep, then so be it. Steal your Z's and never look back! The point I'm trying to make is that I believe quality sleep is important enough that you should try to achieve it in almost any way you can. I have a few strict rules (strict, LOL) about TV in bed: no news (too stressful), no sports (too loud and bright) and no commercials (too everything). And make sure you put the sleep timer on, okay?
We've been getting into Mindhunter on Netflix, and for some reason, the slow drawl of the serial killer describing how he hates women and wants to humiliate them in the most sadistic way puts me right to sleep. Who knew?! (Actually, I think it's because this show is pretty gray—like literally, the color gray—and features mostly dialogue with very little action.) Netflix n' chill yourself to sleep, amiright?!
16. Get some cozy-ass pajamas.
I think this is a very important (and frankly, overlooked) part of getting quality sleep. I'm pretty serious about pajamas (probably because I wear them more than normal clothes) and usually rotate between Joe's t-shirts and actual PJ's. I recently got a pair of these hella soft sweatpants from Amazon, which I may or may not be wearing right now. They're 10 bucks and worth every penny. I've heard that investing in cute workout clothes can motivate you to get your sweat on, and I assume the same must go for sleep.
Well, are you feeling inspired about getting some quality sleep? I certainly hope so!
Sleep makes you function better, it makes you age gracefully, and it makes you pretty. No, really. Beauty sleep is not a myth. And needing sleep to function is nothing to be ashamed of.
Got any bedtime hacks you'd like to share? Comment below!
Get your sleep on, guys. Go to bed.