How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep. We all need it, yet barely any of us get enough of it. If you’re like me, you run ahead at full speed all day long and head to bed so tired, but your mind races, and it can be hard to reel it in and settle in for the night. Last summer, I found myself waking up several times in the middle of the night, unable to fall back asleep as my brain kept pushing ideas at me. I realize now that I was really struggling with anxiety because most of those thoughts were related to things that worried me. Chris is able to run on just a few hours of sleep, but I am a creature who must get at least 7 hours (preferably 8) or the next day is a real struggle for me. With a baby who was home with me all day, plus two older kids, there was no way I could function at my best on little sleep, and I had to take control of the situation. I’ve worked over the last few months to change my habits and effectively get into a much healthier routine. Today I am going to share all of the tips and tricks I’ve learned through practice and teach you how to get a good night’s sleep. (Thank you so much to Thomas Lee for sponsoring this post. I chose to work with this company because they are local to me, socially conscious and eco-friendly, and they are a woman owned, women operated, and women manufactured brand. I am honored to work with a company that boasts such morale. They’ve also given me a generous coupon code to share with you.)
Ten Tips & Tricks for a Good Night’s Sleep
Let’s start with one of the basics of a good sleep routine… bedding! It’s sort of obvious, one would think, but maybe not. In the cold winter, I love to layer cozy blankets that can easily be removed if I get to hot. If you sleep next to a partner, it may be that you have a blanket you use only on your side as the very top layer. That’s how it is in our house. I run very cold and Chris runs hot, so while we are both good with our sheets and duvet, I like an extra blanket on top. The fuzzy blanket you see below really is only used on my side.
The duvet should be a weight that feels good to you as it’s a personal choice and depends on the climate where you live. We have a medium weight down alternative and it’s perfect for us. I also make sure that when I purchase a duvet cover, it’s very light weight and doesn’t add too much heft to my bedding. Light crisp cotton or gauze feel fabrics tend to be mu go-tos. I’ve made the mistake of having heavy duty fabric on my duvet cover and it’s been too hot to sleep comfortably.
While these top layers are important, the most important layer is the one that actually makes contact with your skin. Have you ever slept on cheap hotel sheets and they feel rough on your face? It’s the worst feeling! On the other side of that, perhaps you’ve had the opportunity to sleep in a luxury hotel bed and thought you were in heaven! Aaaaah…. now that’s a great feeling, and there’s no reason why your bed at home shouldn’t feel like that peaceful retreat.
We recently had the opportunity to try Thomas Lee cotton percale sheets, and they reminded me of the best hotel sleep I ever had when we were on our honeymoon. The sheets on that bed were the perfect crisp cool white cotton… that’s exactly how our new sheets are! Chris and I honestly go to bed each night now feeling like we are totally spoiled. In the winter, my skin gets especially dry, but my itchy legs are much happier with these sheets.
Thomas Lee sheets are made with great care and ethics.
- The cotton used in their products comes from US soil, supporting almost 5,000 farms. How incredible that they are supporting so many American growers!
- They are OEKO-TEX® certified free from harsh chemicals. Because of this, they are not wrinkle resistant and only come in white or ivory, but that means they are much safer for your home. Do you really want to rest your head on a sheet that is emitting harsh chemicals? I know I don’t.
- These sheets are NOT mass produced like most others on the market.
- They use clean energy, with a manufacturing process that utilizes wind power and recycled rainwater.
- Be sure to check out their buyer’s guide for more information about the sheets, production, and care.
Because Thomas Lee is local to me, I had the opportunity to sit down over coffee with the owner, Elizabeth Zook. She was absolutely lovely and so proud of the company that she’s created, as she should be! She was very kind to answer all of my questions, as I told her I was very choosey about the brands that I work with and only want to work with those that I can support with a good conscious. Liz filled me in on the process that I talked about above as well as their products being free from harsh chemicals. However, she went on to tell me so much more about the company. She told me that it’s women owned and operated and that 100% of the company’s employees are working mothers. I kid you not, I was almost in tears hearing about her passion for supporting these women, and about how the company provides free on-site school and medical care for all employees. She’s changing their lives by giving them a safe place to work and creating a safe place for their children to be educated. Aside from resting comfortably at night because the sheets inherently are of such luxury quality, I can rest easily knowing that they are ethically created and that means so much to me.
As I mentioned above, your sheet layer is the most important on your bed, so make sure that you take great care to select the perfect sheets for your bed. You can’t go wrong with Thomas Lee cotton percale sheets. Trust me, your bed will feel heavenly!
My friends at Thomas Lee have agreed to offer you 20% off plus FREE SHIPPING through January 31 (This Friday!) with the code CASSIE. Do not miss out on this awesome opportunity. You can shop here.
And even though I haven’t had the chance to try them yet, I want to also give a little shout out to Thomas Lee for creating sustainable Bamboo sheets as well.
Limit Alcohol & Caffeine
This past fall, I gave up wine for two months straight. I am not by any means a heavy drinker, but before that I was enjoying a glass or two of wine a few nights a week. I would frequently wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety, but I didn’t put two and two together. When I gave up wine for that stretch of time, I slept so well and never had a night where I woke up with a racing mind. It was not until December hit and I had wine again followed by a sleepless night or two that I realized I had not had a night like that the entire time I was without alcohol. When I mentioned this observation on facebook to my friends, several chimed in and said they notice the same thing happens to them. Heading into January, I once again decided to give up wine, and moving forward only have it on special occasions like date night… not special occasions like, say, Thursday. I know that a lot of us out there enjoy wine, beer, and cocktails, but if you struggle with sleeping, I strongly suggest limiting your alcohol intake and seeing what happens.
Similarly, caffeine can have cause symptoms of anxiety and make it challenging to sleep. I drink my coffee solely in the morning and do not have a problem with this causing me any trouble. However, it was worth a mention because I know several people who take in to much caffeine for their system. If you’re struggling to sleep at night and you know you drink a lot of caffeine, try limiting it to only the morning, or maybe diluting it throughout the day and see what happens.
Sleep doesn’t always immediately come as soon as I put my head on the pillow. I am sure many of you can relate… you’re exhausted, and you have been so looking forward to just crawling into bed for the evening. You climb under the covers, lay down in your favorite position, and nothing happens. Suddenly your exhausted body won’t let you sleep. One night when this happened to me, I decided to try something. I had been using the a meditation app in the mornings, but I decided to apply what I had been practicing with the breathing techniques at night. Breathing deeply into my belly, I focus on that breath and let everything else sort of fall away. The first night I tried it, I don’t remember much because I fell asleep so quickly! Now when I have those nights I go back to my meditation style breathing.
What do you do if your thoughts keep coming? Again, I use my meditation practices. Most practices will teach you to acknowledge your thoughts, but don’t really pay attention to them. Think of your thought as a passer-by that you are just nodding to. I like to envision mine like little bubbles in the air and as it passes, I pop it with my finger and let it go.
Studies have proven over and over that a cool room is much easier to sleep in than a warm room. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it a little lower for the hours you will be in bed. We prefer our room to be about 62-65 at night. As much as it may feel cool before getting in bed, there’s nothing as nice as stepping into a bed with crisp cool cotton sheets, curling into a ball (or however you like to sleep), covering yourself and letting your body heat warm you up! Just thinking about that makes me want to get into bed.
If you run hot natured, consider getting a bedroom ceiling fan or even a tabletop fan you can put on your nightstand. The cool breeze and quiet hum together can help lull you to sleep. We use our ceiling fan in every season but winter. It feels incredible to have a soft cool breeze blowing on you while you sleep.
Stay Hydrated But Cut Off Water Time
Cutting off water was Emmy’s suggestion, but I agree! I wanted to enhance it a bit though by adding how important it is to be hydrated for a good night of sleep. This past fall I started drinking about 70 oz of water a day for my health. In the very beginning, I’d often forget and then load up on my water later in the day which frequently resulted in midnight bathroom wake-ups. (I was able to use my meditational breathing to get back to sleep easily here.) Now I’ve gotten into a much healthier routine of drinking water throughout the day (though I usually don’t start until mid morning because coffee is life for me.) Now, Chris likes to leave a cup of water on his nightstand because he gets dehydrated at night. He’ll take an occasional sip, but not down the entire cup. I would also argue that he doesn’t drink enough water throughout the day, and tends to rely on soda, so therein lies the problem. Good sleep is all about finding the right balance for you… how much water your body needs to be fully hydrated for a good night of sleep without being overly hydrated and having to pee every hour.
I suggest that you start with small habits to build the water routine that works best for you. What works for me is to use a 20 oz bottle that I fill up 4 times. I fill it once mid-morning and drink it before lunch time. I then fill it once after lunch time, once before dinner, and then I reserve that last bottle for after dinner, but before 7:30 pm. Anything I drink after that is just a sip. I would not recommend having all of your ounces in the last few hours of the day like I did at first. 😉 Try starting with that morning bottle or glass. Set a timer on your phone to remind you to drink your water. By the end of the day, when it comes to bedtime, you won’t feel so dehydrated.
No After Dinner Snacks
Just like a full bladder will keep you up, so will an overfilled stomach. Late night snacking can make you uncomfortable and bloated, or worse, leave you with indigestion. I struggle with this one, so that’s where that last bottle of water comes in. After I eat my dinner, I drink only half of it to help me feel fuller. Additionally, it helps me digest what I’ve eaten for dinner, and I go to bed at 9 feeling full and content but not stuffed uncomfortably. I used to indulge in a small bowl of ice cream on occasional weekends, and I noticed I was waking up in the middle of the night with a headache. I am 99% sure that it was the late night snacking, plus the poor choice of late night snack (sugary ice cream) that caused me to wake up feeling terrible. I am not telling you to never indulge, but do your best to limit it. Ice cream is my favorite food in the world, and sometimes, it is worth the headache to me. 😉
Move your body every single day. Studies have shown that morning workouts are best when it comes to sleep because evening exercise can pump you up and make it harder to sleep. I am a morning person by nature, so I get up and get moving usually around 5 or 5:30 am. I walk my dogs, run, or go to the gym. Some mornings, I run or walk early, then I go to the gym mid-morning if Wilder isn’t in school because he loves going to the gym. I’ll do a barre or yoga class to get in some toning. While I do believe in a “rest” day, my rest day still involves a 30 minute walk with the dogs, or perhaps with Wilder strapped on, and the dogs. (It’s amazing what fresh air will do for your mental well-being, too!) If the weather is bad on a “rest day” I will do a quick yoga video or throw a kitchen dance party with the kids… we turn up the tunes and break it down! I just implemented this active rest day this past fall, and I think it makes a huge difference. Before that, I was taking one or two rest days where I wouldn’t even walk the dogs and I noticed that I always felt a little off and slightly agitated those days. A little bit of exercise is great for your mind and body, and that will help you rest at night. When you go to bed at night, you should feel at peace with who you are and what you did that day, and also like you gave it your best. Exercise is imperative to that feeling.
If your schedule is so insane that you can’t find the time for a dedicated walk or exercise routine, try squeezing in short bursts throughout your day. Walk when possible, take 5 minute walk breaks while co-workers are taking their smoke breaks.
If you get into bed and you just can’t quiet your mind right away, or you need some time to just mellow out, don’t reach for the remote… reach for a book! I love to read at night to unwind, and to make the last 30-60 minutes of my day really count with something that adds value to my life. Reading has been proven to help us get into a state of relaxation in a short period of time, so if you’re finding you can’t relax, pick up a book. As you can see above, I keep my nightstand loaded with books so I never have to get out of bed to grab one. I keep the books I want to read next on my nightstand, and I have about 100 or so others stuffed inside my nightstand. (We don’t yet have dedicated bookshelves in this house). Chris also reads at night, and when our kids can’t sleep, that’s exactly what they do as well. It almost always works like a charm, minus the occasional night where Sawyer gets sucked into a book and stays up until 2 am to read… it’s a rare occasion! He was formerly a kid who hated to read, so I never get mad at him for it. 😉
Cut Off Electronics
OK, I wish I could tell you that I implement this technique, but I actually don’t. We do it for our kids, but not for ourselves- why is that? I am going to try to get better about this one for sure! I do everything wrong and keep my phone charging on my nightstand because I get up so early and use the light of my phone to guide myself our of bed in the morning rather than bugging Chris with a lamp light. What I need to do is put the phone on the floor where I can’t reach it from bed so easily. OK, here I am telling you all that from now on that’s what I will do. Problem solved.
In all seriousness, I’ve heard over and over how bad blue light is for sleep, so put the phone down. Instead of reaching for the remove, grab a book and read as discussed above.
The very last tip I have is one that I know works for most babies, and I’ve heard many adults swear by it as well… a sound machine! We actually use a sound machine to put Wilder to bed each night and down for his naps, and he sleeps like a champ. I hope I am not jinxing myself here! 😉 We set it to rolling waves for him, but there are so many gentle sounds you can use. Alexa even offers white noise options as well these days. If you can’t quiet your own mind, a sound machine just might do the trick and help quiet and calm it for you.
Now that I’ve offered you ten tips and tricks for a good night’s sleep, I hope you can apply them and find yourself resting sleeping peacefully through the night. Be sure to check out Thomas Lee for the best ethically made sheets as well as Elizabeth’s Journal which is also filled with more tips for better sleep. Don’t forget to use code CASSIE on their website to get 20% off plus free shipping through Friday!