Thursday, November 1, 2012

sleep props

Ever since I was a teenager, sleep has been something that always evaded me. I think it all started when I discovered Sidney Sheldon novels that would keep me up at night.

And now, 15+ years later, it still haunts me. Not Sidney Sheldon, but the trouble falling asleep.

Working from home (most of the time) certainly has its advantages, including working in pajamas. Well, it could be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it. But one clear disadvantage, for me at least, is that it's been very difficult for me to just leave work behind the way you would when you physically leave an office outside of your home.

I haven't been great at structuring my work hours, which is largely the problem.

But I try. 

I start with turning off my laptop at least 30 minutes before I going to bed - ideally an hour, but sometimes I end up turning it off before I accomplish what I needed to accomplish, and so I end up tossing and turning - and then I get up anyway to either get it done or put it on my list.

I also stopped bringing the iPad into the bedroom with me. This was tough, but it had to be done. I am doing everything in my power to NOT get addicted to Kindle. They say that screens from electronic devices stimulate your eyes the way sunshine does, which makes it even harder for the brain to recognize that it's time to rest.

Then I turn on my sleep playlist or the nature sounds app on my iPhone.

And then I take one 500-mcg dose of melatonin, the lowest available dose. I still don't know what to do about this long-term. I don't take it on the weekends to give my body a break - just so I don't start feeling dependent on it, physically and psychologically.

Then my bedtime routine begins...

My husband gets amused with all the props I use and surround myself with to help me drift off into sleep. Well, because normally I don't quite "drift off" into sleep effortlessly and blissfully.


 Clockwise from left:
Badger sleep balm, Indu aromatherapy lotion and spray, Origins "Bedtime Hug", and Blessings, a book of affirmations/meditations by Julia Cameron. Photos from each product's website.

The Badger sleep balm is scented with natural essential oils - lavender and bergamot - my favorite scents! I rub this on my temples, and sometimes the back of my neck and shoulders, giving myself a mini-massage. I love how the website says it's for "restless wanderers"!

The Indu aromatherapy lotion and spray is amazing. It's made by a local yoga teacher here in Cleveland. I just order it by email and pick it up at her house. It's also made with essential oils such as lavender, geranium, and other soothing scents. This hands-down the best lotion ever. I apply the lotion on my hands, and spray some of the aromatherapy spray on my pillow.

The Origins "Bedtime Hug" was a gift from a good friend of mine a few years ago, and it's holding up well. It's like a little pillow, scented with - yes, you guessed it - lavender essential oil - and you can dampen it then warm it slightly in the microwave. So comforting on my back or even on on my belly. It's got a little weight to it, and in the absence of sandbags to weigh myself down for calming purposes (don't judge - I've tried sandbags during a relaxation yoga class and it was amazing), this kind of does the trick.

Then I open up a book of meditations, just randomly, to any page - and on rotation is Julia Cameron's Blessings. Other books I have on my bedside table are 365 Yoga by Julie Rappaport, and The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi. This helps replace all my work-related thoughts, so I end the day on a positive note. It sets the tone for gratitude, loving-kindness, and prayer.


They say that "sleep hygiene" is all about creating a comforting routine that signals to your brain that it's time to rest. Very occasionally I might soak in the bath with (yes, lavender) Epsom salts - but I don't always have the luxury of doing this every night. Somehow, my mind still goes back to the time I experienced growing up, when water was rationed, and sometimes I can't bear to fill up a tub with that much water so regularly.

But perhaps my mindset will change if my bathroom looked like this:

floating modern bathtub | photo credit

Ok, went off on a tangent there.

Another routine that A. and I have gotten into is... I know, this will sound a bit strange.... reading our horoscope! I was never into reading my horoscope. But let me tell you that the Indian horoscope is WAY more fun. A. reads it from this Indian website -- in Hindi, no less, and he translates it for me of course. It's actually not a bad thing that I can't read Hindi, because then I don't have to look at the screen and stimulate my eyes and brain again after ALL the things I do to get blissed out and ready for sleep. Thankfully A. has no trouble whatsoever falling asleep - he's great at just leaving work behind. We tend to giggle our way through our nightly horoscope reading. Now I don't know if A. translates everything accurately or not (especially if there are not-so-good things in that day's reading), but hey, I'll take it.

At this point I close my eyes, then settle into deepening and slowing down my breathing.

And at the risk of lavender growing out of me (which is quite plausible at the rate I'm going - were you ever told that joke when you were a kid, that if you accidentally swallow a seed it will start to sprout inside you until a plant grows from your body? Anyone? Ok, maybe not...), I fall asleep within a half hour - on a good day. 

photo credit

It's been a good couple of weeks now (almost), except for maybe a day or two. Much better than when I was falling asleep at 3 or 4 am, which led to me being really grumpy, having no appetite (GASP!), and worst of all, taking it out on my poor husband who is nothing but the kindest, gentlest, most loving soul to me.

And for him, I'll take the risk of having lavender grow out of my body.

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cyberlaundry said...

"Lavender growing out of me" - HAHAHA! I hear you! I've been lavender-ing my life and my bed and my body, but fail pa rin ako most of the time. Maybe that kindle/iPad/iPhone thing is the thing. Addict pa naman ako sa Freecell ;)

Yes I heard that seed story din--about tomatoes. Maybe that's why I don't like them :)

Good luck sa tulog!!

Can't. Wait!!!! Hugs!!!!

Mia (Savor Everyday) said...

Camille - YES it's all our screen time that keeps us up!!!

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