Sleep Hacks for the Insomniac in You

So many of my clients describe feeling tired and depleted ALL THE TIME. When I ask them about their relationship with sleep or how their sleep hygiene is, I’m often met with a blank stare.

Changing your relationship with/habits around sleep is one of THE most beneficial things you can do for your young adult self – in all aspect. Career, relationships, health, you name it!! 

Listen, I get it…I’ve struggled with sleep since the time I came out of the womb. Seriously, ask my mom. It was not fun for her (or me). 

A normal night used to look like crawling into bed at whatever time (it really didn’t matter what time it was), and laying there, staring at the ceiling, rolling from side to side for anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. It made for a lot of sleepless nights. It lead to sleep anxiety – I would literally dread night time because I felt SO tired but worried that as soon as my little head hit the pillow, I’d be riddled worry, thoughts, ideas and to-do’s – and that I couldn’t shut it off. 

Some people struggle with the falling asleep, some wake up in the middle of the night and some sleep through the night but wake up feeling exhausted. 
Here’s the thing – we’re taking in information ALL DAY LONG. Our brains are constantly flooded with more ideas, more content –  which means our brains have a lot of processing and work to be doing. We’re pretty much always being stimulated by something. 

It would make sense that we need to implement some practices that signal to our brain and body that it’s okay to relax, that it can truly slow down and rest. That it’s safe. 

We won’t get there by Netflix binging, scrolling through IG or working until the minute our head hits the pillow. 

Incase you think it’s “not that big of a deal” that you’re not sleeping well on the reg, here are just a *few* perks to improving your relationship with your pillow…

  • Aids ability to be present
  • Wake actually feeling rested
  • Make better decisions/choices⁠
  • Reduce stress⁠
  • Decrease inflammation⁠  
  • Improve heart health⁠
  • Better memory⁠
  • Get sick less often⁠
  • Increase patience⁠

We want our brains to get into the REM cycle while we sleep – this is where our bodies recharge the most. It’s the deepest form of sleep. And for this to happen, we need enough time, a safe environment and a deep state of relaxation. 

Throughout the past few years, I’ve done a lot of research in this area, because I too, was sick of feeling exhausted and riddled with worry everyday. 

Taking the time to learn and implement these practices has quite literally transformed my world. 

Read below for my key tips on sleep hygiene that took me from ongoing insomnia to an early bed time – morning loving lady who idolizes her rest and sleep time (yes, I’m one of those now and dang proud of it!!). 

Feel free to mix and match any/all of these, and as always, take what works for you and leave the rest!! 

  • Put the technology down – That blue light thoughhhhh. Have you seen the research about how much blue light and screen time impacts our brain waves? No? Oh, well, read this. It’s really important.
  • Get yoself a bed time: preferably between 9-11:30pm (within 3 hours of sunset is ideal). This can help your body align with a natural circadian rhythm (aka the sun, moon, etc). 
  • Watch how much sweets/caffeine you’re eating during the day. As a rule of thumb, weening off the caffeine after 1pm generally aids more restful nights.
  • Control your environment – lights, sounds, etc. Our bodies really love to relax in cool, dark places. Right now we have access to light 24/7. If you can’t eliminate light and sounds completely, try a face mask or some ear plugs. Maybe even talk to your partner about removing the tv from your bedroom (YUP, I said it!!).
  • Sip some soothing dranks. All the calm in all the ways. Sip in some hot cacao, decaf tea, turmeric latte – anything that brings those warm, cozy feelings to your little spirit (without energizing it) is a go!
  • Stretch your body. THIS. ONE. I can’t stress this enough! We carry so much stress, tension, weight in our bodies. Find a few minutes before bed to stretch it out – with yoga, or any targeted practices that help you let loose of your most tense spots (For me, this is my upper back and shoulders). Rolling around on the floor a bit before actually hitting the sheets, may help you find that next level release you’ve been needing. Even a few yoga poses could help!
  • Engage your senses (smell, touch, soothe). A lot of my clients find that they lo0o0ove using their favorite face wash, taking a warm bath, lighting some candles, – or really anything that engaging your senses in an organic way.
  • Journal out your thoughts! Any over-thinkers out there? Worry mind? Thought so! Creating space to let your mind worry for a bit and getting it out of your head and down on paper can be immeasurably helpful in not having to repeat the same thing over, and over, and over again, when you know you really want to be sleeping. This can look like free writing, checking in on weekly goals, scribbling out your fears. 
  • Make a to do list for tomorrow. Another huge one! Do you find that one of the things keeping you up is the constant worrying about all of the things you need to get done tomorrow, next week, this lifetime?! Write them all out. I swear I never go to bed without having a clear understanding of what’s to come the next day. It helps me ease my mind to get it situated out on paper before wrapping up for the night. 
  • Practice gratitude. You’ve heard it about a thousand times, right? Well, that’s because it really is true! There is so much research coming out that supports how transformative a gratitude practice can be. That being said, some days are shitty and forcing fake gratitude won’t do you any good but on the days where you can hack it, spend a few minutes creating a list of things you have in this day to be grateful for. Our minds do a lot of worrying, why not give it something to celebrate and cherish, if only for today?
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Mmm, mmm, mmm. One of my all time favorite exercises – and so simple! Once you’re laying down in bed, start from your head or your toes and simply address each muscle group. Squeeze it tight and then mentally give it permission to let go, to shut off, to relax. (If you happen to use Headspace, there’s a great sleep meditation practice on there for this!) My husband requests this one now when he’s tense or stressed. “I never make it past my knees. I love it!” he says on the reg now. My how the times have changed hehe. 😉
  • Meditate. Is meditation in your wheel house? Would you like it to be? Spend a few gentle minute tuning into your breath, a supportive mantra, or anything else. Watch your heart rate slow and your brain have something to focus in on. 
  • Reading? Some folks find reading to be stimulating (Hi! Me!), and others find it to be so rejuvenating, calming and relaxing. If this feels calling to you, snag a book of your choice and cuddle up!
  • Get up after 30 minutes – try again. Now listen, none of these practices are a magic pill. It will certainly take some time and practice for your body to understand these as signals to chill the F out. If you find your tossing and turning after 30 minutes, get up. Engage in one of these practices for a few minutes and hop back into bed. It’s almost like pressing a reset button to try again.

So many options! Now the expectation here is NOT that you will do all of these things each and every night (or ever?). I wanted to list out several options so that you have a menu to source from!

Try mapping out 20-30 minutes for some sleep hygiene and picking 2-3 practices to try. Mix and match them however you please to find what works for you. 

Keep working at this and see how your energy transforms. I would ABSOLUTELY love to hear how this impacts you! Please send me a note here with your thoughts and experiences. 🙂 🙂 🙂 

Happy Zzz’s my friends!

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Picture of Chelsea Connors

Chelsea Connors