The ABCs of Catching ZZZs
Let's just jump into it, shall we? While there are plenty of things I'm good at (like, coming up with witty blog titles, for example), falling asleep is not one of them. My mind's off-switch seems to be a thing that never existed. My mom says that even as a child I worried whether or not the sun would come up the next day. Because of this, I have spent nearly 30 years worth of nights replaying embarrassing moments from a decade or more ago in my mind, or wondering if I somehow offended someone that day by saying, "appreciate it," instead of the more traditional, "thank you!"
It's probably no surprise to you that I am not alone in this matter, as you yourself likely have trouble falling asleep, or you know someone who does. According to sleephealth.org, 70% of adults in America report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night.
Upon reading that, I thought, "Wow! This is the part of the blog where I'll make a joke about all the bad drivers out there or unmotivated employees all just actually needing some good sleep." Well, I continued reading, and:
"Drowsy driving may be a factor in 20% of all serious motor vehicle crash injuries.5 A large naturalistic study of 100 drivers and nearly 2 million miles of driving identified sleepiness as factor in 22% of crashes, and 16% of near crashes.
The impact on American life and economy is enormous as sleep deprivation and untreated sleep disorders are estimated to cost over $100 billion annually in lost productivity, medical expenses, sick leave, property, and environmental damage." (via sleephealth.org)
But enough with the big numbers! Let's get *to* the *one* that brought you here:
Below are the 5 tips/tricks I've been utilizing for the last few months that I believe have played a huge role in my being able to fall asleep in 30 minutes or less, opposed to the hour+ it used to take.
1. PILLOW SPRAY
This past Christmas, Jake drew my name for our Functionize Secret Santa. He thoughtfully gifted me a bottle of wine with a sleeping essentials kit that included a sleeping mask, calming candle, grow-your-own-lavender necessities, and...pillow spray!
This stuff smells heavenly! How have I not been using this my whole life? The fresh scent truly has a calming effect that always makes my eyelids feel a tad bit heavier when I breathe it in deeply. Could it be placebo? Sure, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work! A couple o' spritzes on the 'ole noggin shelf (pillow) before I get into bed does the trick.
The best part? It's easy to DIY! Here's a concoction I plan on using when I run out of my current bottle.
2. Blue Light Filter Glasses
I originally bought a pair of these to help put an end to the headaches I was getting from staring at a computer screen all day, but when one of our patients mentioned her daughter wears a pair before bed, I thought I should give it a try.
Blue light is emitted from phones, laptops, TVs, (basically all screens), fluorescent lights, and...the sun! So, is it any wonder that exposure to this type of light can keep us awake?
I now keep a pair on my nightstand to wear as soon as I hop into bed as I usually watch a show or am mindlessly scrolling on my phone for a bit. Since I began wearing these while doing so I have totally noticed a difference in how much easier it is for me to fall asleep.
And because you can find some super cute ones on Amazon for cheap, it definitely won't hurt to try them out!
Speaking of annoying blue light...
In the past, I have always needed the TV on to sleep. It's not as simple as requiring background noise to feel at ease, but that I must focus on some sort of story so my mind doesn't race in a thousand different directions - this is why classical music and white noise machines have no place on this Fall Asleep Faster list.
My husband thinks it's creepy, but the easiest way for me to fall asleep is to have something like Forensic Files on. Unfortunately, the bright light of the television is a surefire way to find yourself waking up over and over again throughout the night.
So I've traded in the ID Channel and Netflix for true crime podcasts and audiobooks!
Look, let me set the record straight: it's not all the talk of murder that gets me sleepy! It's the narrators that do it for me. It seems that many true crime podcasts, tv shows, or documentaries are narrated by Robert Stack-like folks with mysterious, soothing voices that tote me right off to dreamland on the wings of calming cadences.
Try downloading an episode or two of an easily digestible podcast with a host who has a voice you find relaxing. Turn the volume on your phone up to juuuust above audible and let the story fill your mind so it has no room to think of the day's annoyances.
If you prefer an Audiobook, the audible app has a sleep timer setting that is such a life saver. I would also suggest downloading the Libby app if you have a library card because who doesn't love free audiobooks???
Of course I had to add a little PT to this list! I was looking up something for our Thursday's 3 newsletter (shameless plug: if you haven't subscribed you can do so here at the bottom, right-hand corner of the page!) and stumbled upon this quick read.
It seemed so obvious after seeing it in print, but OF COURSE stretching before bed helps you sleep! DUH, it's relaxing! And because it only takes a few minutes to work through the three stretches listed in the article above, I started incorporating it into my nightly routine. My body feels like it's somehow more willing to melt into a relaxed once I've loosened up and spent a bit of time listening to my body.
I've since added a few other stretches that just naturally feel right for me personally, which I think anyone adding this step into their bedtime pregame should do. No one person has the same day as anyone else, so your body craves something different. Maybe that's just the Functionize Difference in me coming out, but a personalized approach is always going to be more beneficial than adhering strictly to a plan someone else has written based on their journey...which is why this list may not work for you! ;)
If you have any questions about how to get better sleep, leave a comment, send us an email, or call our office. We'd be happy to chat with you!
Happy sleeping, y'all.
Mary Kathleen is Functionize’s Social Media/Marketing Manager and in-house Wordsmith. She lives in Atlanta with husband Brian and their three furry children Cotton (pup), Burlap (pup), and Knuckles (kitty). She is the owner of Velvet & Vine Boutique.