Sipping wine, Mindy Ellis laughs in her friend’s apartment. She tells her friends she must leave when she notices the time. “The only way I barely even get any sleep is by sleeping at home. It’s miserable,” Ellis said. At home she keeps her eyes shut, trying not to imagine the clock ticking. Ellis has had insomnia for over 25 years.
Ellis isn’t the only one frustrated with lack of sleep. “Nearly 30 percent of adults reported an average of less than or equal to six hours of sleep per day in 2005-2007,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts from the CDC say adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep to function at an effective level. We’ve all been sleep-deprived zombies in class, but here are a few simple and cheap ways to start getting a better sleep starting tonight.
The Sleep Triggering Flower
This tip has a two-for-one bonus: sleep better and smell better. Good sleep starts with lavender, the handsome purple member of the mint family. Plus, lavender has already been tested and proven effective, even on sleepy headed freshmen. Lavender oil may be rubbed onto the neck, chest, temples or wherever else feels appropriate.
Nutritional Specialist and Natural Medicine Expert Dr. Josh Axe said making a mixture of lavender oil, roman chamomile oil and magnesium oil helps improve sleep. He also recommended adding 15 drops of lavender oil to a warm bath.
Ellis lights a lavender-scented candle every night and clears her cluttered mind with visions of serenity. Apparently, the lavender scent gives her positive thoughts, or maybe visions of a tan and toned Brazilian man running towards her on the beach. Whatever the case, this pine tree and floral scent are sure to do the trick.
Those 3×5 Index Cards at the Bottom of Your Backpack
Don’t you envy those students who somehow find time to sleep a solid eight or even nine hours? The nights we do find time to sleep we spend wishing we could fall asleep instead of actually being asleep. Lindsay Lang, an advanced practice nurse at the Deaconess Sleep Center in Evansville, Illinois, said people worry about not being able to sleep to the extent that it keeps them awake at night.
Lang said, “If you can’t fall asleep, you must get up and do something, or else your brain becomes conditioned to not being asleep when you are in bed.” She recommends getting out of bed and writing on a note-card. “On one side of the notecard, put a thing you are worried about, and on the back of the notecard write what you are planning to do about it.”
If you don’t know the answer, then write that you can’t do anything about the problem until the following day. The kindergarten teacher who told you to journal your feelings actually made a good point. Seeing our worries on paper might actually help us realize how ridiculous and worrisome humans act.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
After getting a terrible night’s sleep, it’s normal to think you should go to go to bed super early the next night. However, Lang recommends setting your alarm for the same time every morning, no matter when you go to bed. “You must wake up at the same time every day,” Lang said. “Your brain’s circadian rhythm is based on when you wake up in the morning and when you are first exposed to sunlight.”
So if you normally stay up late and wake up early, stick with it. “Say a person tells me that they go to bed at this time and it takes them two hours to go to sleep, and so they are actually only asleep for five out of seven hours,” she explained. “I tell them to be in bed only five hours before.”
Let’s face it, some people fall asleep easier than others, and the restless ones should make a nightly routine. Whether that involves rubbing lavender oil onto your temples or jotting down your worries, these simple tips will help you drift off into dreamland in no time.