Sarah's Sleep Study

Sleep often evades me. I have the hardest time falling asleep, even when I desperately want to. I know it's not insomnia, because when I do fall asleep, I can sleep for a while. I love sleep, it just doesn't always love me.

Even when I wake up for work around 8 a.m., I find myself falling asleep around midnight or later. I've tried many things to remedy this problem and so far haven't found a solution. So I set out to do so.

Here's what I knew didn't work for me:
-Sleeping pills like ZzzQuil, NyQuil or Tylenol PM: Although these put me to sleep, they often take up to two hours to kick into my system and I don't like how they make me feel while falling asleep and when waking up. Also, Tylenol PM gives me weird breathing problems at night, so it's not worth the risk.
-Natural sleep aids like melatonin or valerian root: Melatonin worked for a minute and then my body got used to it and it stopped working. Valerian root may have worked, but MAN, it's so smelly I didn't like taking it at all.
-Tea: Making a hot cup of Sleepytime tea and drinking it to fall asleep sounds so nice. But I've tried to like tea for so long and just can't make myself. On most occasions, I find tea disgusting.
-Meditation: I would love to be able to meditate but my brain won't slow down enough to do so. I've tried so many times with no luck. I've even tried apps to help with it. It's just not my thing.
I decided to ask my friends for help. I made a status on Facebook and, to my surprise, it was overflowing with suggestions.
While I knew not all of these would work for me, I was excited to try some of them. My Ideal Sleep Routine includes: a hot shower, 1-2 episodes of some show on Netflix, wash face/brush teeth, read or write for 30 minutes to an hour, sleeeeeeeeep. I decided to incorporate these into the mix.
Here's what I've been trying:
-The Sea Will Claim us by Matthew Kidd. I can't shut up about this song. It's all music, no lyrics, and it puts me in a dream-like trance. I'm obsessed. I've listened to it so many times. It's great for writing/reading background music, too.

-Ok, y'all. I've been waiting FIVE years for new Sufjan Stevens music. And this album is perfect. Absolutely worth the wait. Carrie & Lowell is so poignant and heartbreaking and perfect for calming down and falling asleep.
-Falling asleep to rain.
Since it doesn't thunderstorm every night (although it would if I had any control over it), creating synthetic rain helps a bit. I've been using an iPhone app called Infinite Storm. It let's you customize your rainstorm to your liking. I always add a lot of thunder.
I went a bit lavender crazy...
Not my photograph (although I wish it was).

-Febreeze Sleep Serenity. This is a little do-dad you place on your bedside table, kind of like an air freshener. It releases a lavender scent into the air. So far, I like it. Rather relaxing.
-Lush is my downfall. I walked in, asking what they had that was lavender scented, and the lady helping me tried to sell me EVERYTHING. I ended up buying a few bath bombs, a shower gel Twilight called and the "Dream Team" consisting of a shower smoothing called Dreamwash and lotion Dream Cream.

-Lately I've been really into doing laundry. Growing up, my mom did my laundry and it always smelled clean, but never like anything. As you can see, I went all out. I purchased new detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets. I'm loving them all.

I knew that if I wanted to get some good sleep, I needed to establish a bedtime routine. The first step, and, admittedly, the hardest for me, is not to get in bed before I'm really ready to relax and sleep. I'm notorious for spending hours in bed watching movies or doing anything but sleeping. I need to teach my brain that my bed is for sleep.

To prepare for bed, I'm trying not to drink caffeine after about 3 p.m. Not having a Diet Coke with dinner is hard, but it's something I'll have to get used to. I'm also trying to focus on reading before bed instead of watching Netflix. It's easier on my eyes to look at a book instead of a bright screen and it relaxes me more.

I also treated myself to some comfort items. Never underestimate the power of a new pillow! I splurged a bit on a down pillow. I couldn't justify buying a $64 pillow, but I did pay more than the $5 I normally do. And I absolutely adore it - a great investment.

Finally, a small trick that worked for me: a friend told me that I shouldn't get anxious when I can't sleep because laying in bed thinking about how I can't sleep only makes it worse. This has really helped me.
This is an ongoing process and I know I would be able to magically develop great sleeping patterns overnight (pun intended). I might still try essential oils, ASMR or different iPhone apps. For now, I'm taking it one night at a time.

What do you do to fall asleep?

*This post is not sponsored by any of these products - I purchased them all with my own money.*

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Oh, hello!
We're Sarah and Kaitlyn, roommates from Milwaukee who started this blog to promote creativity and life.
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