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clinical,  coping skills,  counseling,  Self-care,  therapy

Insomnia and Sleep Hygiene: getting a better night’s sleep

My experience in reducing insomnia and sleepless nights with healthy habits and product essentials.

If you haven’t learned yet, insomnia is a symptom of mental, medical, and lifestyle conditions. Of course, if you’re reading this you are probably seeking out ways to get a better night’s sleep. I get you. I’ve been there and it’s frustrating. My worst insomnia nights consisted of being awake until 6am in the morning, and taking either Benadryl or Ambien to put myself to sleep. So let me tell you a little more about my experience and how I dealt with it, without medicating myself.

Each person has their own mind and body. People experience and handle insomnia differently- and as I mentioned, insomnia is a symptom of various conditions. For me, a sleepless night is a symptom of depression and anxiety. Here is what happens to me during those nights. My mind races. I have random ideas. I fear about falling asleep and having nightmares. I fear of waking up extremely sad in the morning. I toss and turn. I feel irritable and of course, awake. I would also feel guilty for not allowing my body to rest. My mind knows that sleep is essential, but my body would be doing something different.

It was mid August of this year that I was desperate for better sleep. I knew I needed to improve my sleep hygiene, so I did. There were three things that helped, and that was optimizing my sleeping environment, being consistent with healthy habits, and maintaining spirituality. So let’s break that down a bit more in bullet points.

  • I bought a new bed. My bed was old, stiff, and uncomfortable. Buying a new bed was a bit pricey for me, but I weighed out the pros and cons. And of course, the more comfortable I am, the more likely I am to fall asleep faster.

Link to Lull’s mattress

  • I used the same essential oil for when I go to bed, and only for when I go to bed. I do it this way because our brains are wired to associate things with other things (for a lack of better describing). It’s to condition my mind to let me know when it’s sleep time. So if I started to smell that lemongrass-lavender scent, I may associate that with sleep. There is ongoing research for essential oils and sleep- but I find it works for me. I added links below for product essentials. (Saje is one of my favorite essential oil brands!)

Saje Best of Saje Deluxe Diffuser Blend Set, Aromatherapy Essential Oil Blends, 6 (0.17 fl oz) bottles, 100% Natural

Cool Mist Humidifier Ultrasonic Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser – Wood

Aromatherapy 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Basic Sampler Essential essential oil

  • I kept a nightly routine. I fed and played with my pets, showered, drank lavender tea, turn on essential oil diffuser, journaled, meditated (stayed in the present moment), prayed, then went to bed before a certain time.
  • I made sure I got some sunlight during the daytime so that my brain can adjust to time.
  • I made sure I exercised or moved around enough during the day to tire me out.
  • I made sure I didn’t drink caffeine past 1pm.
  • I kept white noise on throughout my sleep. I use an app, but if you prefer not using your phone between sleep and wake time, you can use a noise machine. Below is a link to the product.

White Noise Sound Machine – 6 Natural and Soothing Sounds

Of course, doing all this wasn’t a quick fix for me. I had to practice my routines over and over again for wanted results. If you suffer from insomnia, I encourage that you find and practice what is most helpful to you. If you have any suggestions, please share them below!

Good night!

-Hannah, Associate Clinical Social worker

Disclaimer: The content of this piece is built on personal experience. Although I am a mental health professional, I will not always refer to research and evidence-based practices. Be aware that suggested interventions can produce various and even unwanted results.
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Psychotherapist and Associate Clinical Social Worker; emphasis on Families and children, and k-8 school systems. I love Jesus, my husky-bull, my reptile babies, hiking, and making music! In an ever so changing world, I hope to help you help yourself find some peace!

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