6 Steps to a Better Night’s Sleep

Studies say that up to 61% of women who are postmenopausal experience frequent bouts of insomnia. For me, sleeplessness started sometime in my early 40s. It kind of goes in waves, depending on my stress level, late dining, too much wine, too much work, ummm…life. At its worst, I’ve gone up to two months without sleeping through the night. Yes, I know there are prescription drugs out there that can help, and I did speak with my internist about them. But in the end, I decided to go for a more holistic approach. I doubt I’ll ever be a “perfect sleeper,” but these 6 steps have helped me a lot. If you experience sleepless nights, I hope some or all of them will help you too!1. CREATE A RESTFUL RETREAT

By now, you probably know how much I love the color grey. As sleek and soothing as it feels in my wardrobe, it is my mantra in the bedroom. We love our apartment, but it was kind of a “white box” when we moved in. I found it really hard to sleep, especially after dawn’s first light. I needed more serenity. So grey and white became the palette when I painted the walls Benjamin Moore’s Sweatshirt Grey. It’s deep yet soft at the same time. I also alternate mix-and-match grey and white bedding each week. And the higher count the cotton, the better! We have central AC which we lower a few degrees at bedtime. A cool room = cocooning in our bed. No night sweats for me either! And we always keep a glass of water on our night tables. And last but not least…no TV!

2. SET A BEDTIME

I know…we’re grown-ups and we can go to bed whenever we want. But I also know that it sure helped us as the parents of three boys to stick to a bedtime schedule while they were young. Mentally and physically, telling myself it’s time to go to bed starts my daily decompression. Embrace the wind down!

3. DRESS THE PART

I discovered these pajamas thanks to Cathy Williamson’s The Middle Page. They’re from Jijamas, a company that designs their PJs in 100% high-end Pima Cotton. Think baby clothes! But for you!! So soft and cozy, you will look forward to putting them on. And not want to take them off. I love the subtle camo pattern and colors of this pair. And did I mention night sweats? All the more reason to keep cotton versus synthetic fabric close to you. Up at the cabin, I go for cotton flannel. Love Garnet Hill. (In the summer, keep the cotton coming too!)

4. STOP WINE-ING! (At least on “school” nights!!)

As much as I think that second (or third!) glass of wine will relax me after a stressful day, it really won’t. Alcohol is actually a stimulant and can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. While you’re trying to sleep, your body is trying to metabolize the alcohol. Not a good combination. So instead of another glass, I’m now steeping some camomile tea or mixing up some Moon Juice Dream Dust. Dream Dust is an adaptogenic (natural and non-toxic) blend of tranquil herbs and chamomile flower that helps combat the effects of stress to soothe your tension for deep, nocturnal sleep. And it’s delicious enough to replace dessert. I love it mixed with almond milk.

5. UNPLUG!

Step away from that Mac…or iPad…or smart phone. The blue light emitted from these amazing devices also suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other kind of light. Melatonin is a natural sleep-inducing hormone that is your nighttime friend! Blue light blocks the signals that let your your brain know it’s time for bed. So don’t be like me and write a post at midnight! Set a shut-off time, put your “smart stuff” away for the day and hit the hay.

6. IF INSOMNIA STRIKES…

Don’t toss and turn. And disrupt your husband’s (or partner’s) sleep as well. If I can’t fall back asleep in 15 minutes or so, I get up and head for a comfy chair in our living room. I usually brew some chamomile tea, read and sip, until my brain resets. And it does. Most importantly, DO NOT get on your computer or phone (see Step 5!).

While not foolproof (what is?), these 6 steps have really helped me to a better sleep. I hope they’ll help you, too. And I’d love to hear about any sleep secrets you’d like to share!

Photos by Chris & MP Allegaert

7 thoughts on “6 Steps to a Better Night’s Sleep

  1. Super helpful, MP! From a Feng Shui perspective, the bedroom should be as cool, peaceful and quiet as possible,. Np clutter, and no T.V. or computer in the bedroom! Even an old fashioned wind up or battery clock is better than a glowing digital clock.
    The scent of lavender will also help promote relaxation and sleep. Candles, essential oils, lotions, bubble baths, even pillows can carry the lovely scent. I tuck sprigs of lavender from my plant under my pillow.
    Sweet dreams! 🙂

    Best, Anne

  2. Thank you. Super helpful tips from you too, Anne! Meant to note no TV. Try to follow the principles of Feng Shui though I am no expert. Sweet dreams for all!

  3. Interesting post, MP!
    Thank you!
    Love Bowie-Guard Dog over laptop 🙂
    I wanted to add, though, that some people are highly allergic to Chamomile tea (me for one). Good alternatives are Sage, Mint, Valerian teas. Valerian is quite unpleasant smelling but is usually sold in a combination with mint. It is an amazing sleep inducer.
    Also, for sweats, Black Cohosh tablets are a wonderful medicinal supplement.
    I love all the greys in your home – so elegant, soothing and strong!

    1. Thank you, Regina! Love all these additional helpful tips!! Especially for those who have allergies, which I am lucky enough not to suffer from. Going to try some Black Cohosh!

      1. I used BC after my hysterectomy. Had been taking Tamoxifen due to breast cancer the year before the hysterectomy. Both the med and the surgery came close together so I was never sure what caused the hot flashes. It took about 2 – 3 months of taking Black Cohosh once a day for the flash intensity to mollify but it REALLY helped. It is a lovely herb! Keep me posted! 🙂

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