Sleep. The experts say we need 8 hours a day for optimal health.
And many of us don’t get it. Including me. Or that was me.
But I have drastically improved my sleep and I am so excited to share with you some ways you can do so for yourself.
This post includes lots of advice that I hope you will find helpful. It also may include affiliate links that, should you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you. In any case, I hope you can take some of these tips and make them work for you.
If you have any medical concerns, you should always contact your doctor before starting anything new or to address your concerns. These are just suggestions that have helped me.
Struggling With Sleep
For the last two decades, I have not had great sleep. It has been for various reasons at different stages in my life, but deep, regular sleep has not come easily for me.
There are generally two stages of sleep: falling asleep and staying asleep. I have routinely had trouble with both.
At least one I have been able to improve (falling asleep), and the other has drastically improved, though not perfect yet.
Why is It So Hard To Fall Asleep?
I thought I was tired, and would go to bed. Only to lay there and watch the minutes roll by.
If you’ve been there, you know how frustrating it is and how worrisome it can be to toss and turn.
I got used to being up and awake early for work, going to bed around 10, but in between there, I was at a stressful job where I was miserable.
I would come home, eat junk food, and veg in front of the tv, exhausted during the workday and afterward. Doesn’t help that I have chronic fatigue issues.
I was also Waking Up In the Middle of the Night
I would find myself waking up most nights, and it could be for any number of reasons; I might need to go to the bathroom, my neighbor’s dog might start barking, a digestive issue may arise in the middle of the night, my husband might snore, anything.
Now, there is a lot of advice on how to improve your sleep “out there”.
And for some people, it may take one easy tweak and they’re sleeping like a baby in no time.
My recommendation is to start with the easy, free tips in this article and see if any work for you.
Trust me, some of them have really been “Aha!” moments for me.
But alas, I have some chronic illnesses (that I am working on) that have affected my sleep over the years.
So, I had to explore other measures, and use those other tips together with some innovative products and ideas mentioned here, and the combination has really been just shy of miraculous.
I went from waking up and getting up at least 2 times in the night to sleeping at least 6 hours in one stretch most nights.
6 hours may not be the recommended 8 hours, but I believe 8 hours is a guideline, and I also have read that those doing intermittent fasting (which I currently am) will require less sleep.
And some days, I take naps if needed, because I usually can and feel overwhelmed by my chronic fatigue-type issues.
1. Reduce Blue Light, Increase Orange Tones
I’m starting with this one because this one has been the silver bullet to helping me sleep better and longer, particularly with falling asleep.
So here’s how this (generally) works: In the mornings, when we are to wake up, the sky is blue, and the light that comes with sunrises is in cool tones, essentially perceived as blue in color.
The cool/blue tones tell your body it’s time to wake up and stay awake.
At sunset, the sun goes down and the color of the sun and sky are more of an orange tone.
In the old days before light bulbs, flames were used to see at night, and they are also red/orange/yellow (warmer) toned.
Throughout the day, those blue tones progress to the warmer/orange tones that tell your body it’s time to start winding down and prepare for sleep.
Blue light will be offset and nullified by the orange and red tones, and vice versa. See the complementary colors wheel and chart below:
How Modern Day Lights and Devices Keep Us Awake
In our modern era, our lights are all based in the blue tones.
Think of how many lights you’re exposed to every night: overhead lights, lamp bulbs, and screens from computers, tablets, cell phones, tvs, even e-readers.
All of these lights and devices are telling your brain to stay awake for several more hours.
How to solve this problem? A few ways:
• One easy way I talk about in this post is to cut off your devices two hours before bed. Put away anything with a screen.
And cutting off bright lamps and overhead lights would work too. Romantic candlelight, anyone?
But, my husband and I love to play games or work sometimes at night on our various devices, and he loves to watch sports and Matlock/The Simpons/Impractical Jokers at night, so we usually are staring at at least two devices in our peripheral vision.
Your more modern devices also have a day/nighttime setting where it increases or decreases (respectively) the amount of blue light. For instructions on how to do this on Apple devices (Android are probably similar), check out this post on improving your sleep for free, instructions are about halfway down.
So what then? (Here’s what’s helped me SOOO MUCH, and its so exciting to me:
• Blocking out the blue light, encouraging the orange light.
Here are some options for this:
1. Orange Glasses: I tried these regular “blue blocker” glasses that are basically clear but have a coating on the front to block blue light. They get pretty good reviews, but they only helped a little bit for me.
But WHOA BABY, when I said ‘I don’t care if I look weird’ *(YES, I LOOK LIKE A TOTAL DORK) and ordered these orange glasses, WHEW!!
BRING ON THE UNITERRUPTED SLEEP!! For the first time in like, 20 years.
Night and day difference. Pun intended.
If I could point you to one thing that has helped me fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, it is these glasses!
2. Himalayan Salt Lamps: These lamps are elegant and earthy looking and will give you great orange light, and you can use them at night time in lieu of regular overhead lights. However, you should consider that they may not block enough blue light from your devices (phones, computers, tablets, tv’s.)
2. Get More Magnesium
I won’t go too far into why I don’t promote the use of melatonin as a sleep supplement, other than the fact that it is, in fact, a hormone and playing around with your hormones without supervision by a doctor could be harmful.
Magnesium is a really great supplement that not only helps you fall and stay asleep, but remember how we talked about exercise? It can also help your muscles not be nearly as sore when you wake up.
Easy, inexpensive ways to get magnesium:
1. Epsom salt baths: This is one of my favorites. I love nothing more than a warm bath, dim lighting, and some epsom salts and I will be out in dreamland easily.
I typically get the biggest bag I can find because epsom salts are cheap by the pound (typically unscented because my body freaks out with too many things in the bath water), but I think these salts with lavender are a great idea since lavender is known to also aid sleep.
(Just be careful not to get too relaxed and fall asleep in the tub or faint coming out, it happens!)
2. Magnesium supplement: If baths aren’t your thing, or sometimes it’s just easier to take something by mouth in your morning routine, this supplement is very popular. It comes unflavored but you can also get other flavors, add it to smoothies, drinks, etc.
3. Magnesium oil: I admit, this is not my favorite way to get magnesium, just because putting on lotion or oil for me everyday just doesn’t happen.
But when I do, I use this one from my Functional Medicine doctor’s office. I really trust their brand because I see the research they put into their supplements. And a bottle lasts for a long time, too.
Just a word of warning, it can make your skin feel a little prickly as it is a salt mixed with oil, so don’t use it right before bed or you may itch, especially before you’re used to it.
Also, I had much less irritation on my arms than I did on my legs. Not a great idea to use after shaving, either, especially if you knick yourself.
3. Use a Sound Machine to Block Noise
I am so ready to move. Our neighbors seem to always have dogs that bark at night. Somehow, it doesn’t keep them up, but it wakes us up. Until we got a fan for our room to keep us cool, and realized that it’s a great sound machine to block other noises.
The fan we have is similar to this one (ours is a much older model), and it is just basically white noise. Sometimes the fan starts to get disjointed and the sound oscillates which we don’t like, so we’ll get a new one.
So if you don’t need to keep cool, I would suggest a sound machine. I have several family members who have this one with several different sound types, and they really like it and also use it for their babies.
When we travel, we use the ‘Sleep Better Fan’ app, it’s free and you can set it to different types of fans.
4. Use Homeopathic Remedies to Antidote Caffeine
Now, I will say, if you have chronic interrupted sleep, you may have a chornic issue that needs to be addressed by a homeopath. Here’s where to find one.
However, one homeopathic remedy I use when I have drunk too much caffeine or have even eaten too much chocolate for dessert (yes, I am that sensitive to caffeine, and chocolate contains it also), is the remedy Coffea cruda 30c.
It is actually made from coffee and will therefore antidote some of the effects coffee can have, like too much caffeine. And it does work wonders. I have taken it and fallen asleep within minutes, after hours of laying awake wondering why I was awake to realize I had a mug of hot chocolate before bed. D’oh!
Homeopathy is safe, doesn’t have side effects. This particular case may not be a long-term solution, but it can help in those instances when you need it. As always, see your doctor about any medical concerns.
For now, these are the additional items I can think of in order to improve your sleep that I didn’t cover in my prior article about how to do it for free. Is there anything else that I missed? Have you used/tried any of these? What were your results? Please let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you!
As always, thank you for reading, and God bless!!