I Couldn’t Fall Asleep Last Night
I know what it feels like when someone says, “I couldn’t fall asleep last night”. I personally never struggled with insomnia. Even when my kids were infants and would wake in the middle of the night for feedings, I could fall back asleep quite easily. But about a year ago, I noticed that for the first time, I was having trouble falling asleep. I would wake up several times during the night and also felt groggy in the mornings. Perhaps it was related to the increasing anxiety that the pandemic brought on in those early months of 2020.
Before the pandemic, my family and I had a reliable routine. Although I worked from home, I had a schedule that I diligently stuck to. It didn’t really occur to me that I was not getting enough sleep. But when the pandemic hit, with all of its sudden unprecedented changes, it was understandable that my sleep had taken a backseat. As we ALL adjusted to various stay-at-home mandates and quarantine orders, the day-to-day routine in our household began to crack, bit by bit. I noticed that I would wake up several times during the night, anxious and on high alert. I struggled falling asleep, I had to get one last thing done before I go to sleep. I have learnt that when I am actively trying to sleep, I don’t allow my body to relax, constantly checking to see if I am asleep, so I started doing things like reading or checking on my messages/emails until my husband complained about how I was disturbing his sleep too. When I woke up usually at the crack of dawn for work meetings, my body was sluggish, and I would consume an inordinate amount of caffeine to keep me alert and functioning in those meetings.
Since I have worked in the healthcare industry for a long time, I know the indispensable importance of quality sleep. Sleep is vital to good physical health and effective functioning of the immune system. It’s also a key promoter of emotional wellness and mental health, helping to beat back stress, depression, and anxiety. Not only are the number of hours of sleep we get important, so is the quality of the sleep we are getting every night.
As the mom, my moods and the way I functioned had started affecting my family in a harsh way. No sleep really sucks! I was at a point where something needed to be done to get me some sleep or the right amount of sleep! I prefer not to self-medicate, so my goal was to cure my sleep issues naturally. I started doing my own research and began incorporating a few lifestyle changes to my life.
Here are some of the strategies I introduced to help me relax and fall asleep:
Diet: The first thing I changed was my diet. I actively included more fresh fruits and vegetables and made sure to avoid eating at least three hours before going to bed. I decided to reduce my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee a day.
Exercise: After a week of sticking to my diet changes, I started an exercise routine that I could do at home. This included going on evening walks and taking virtual Zumba classes.
Blue-light blocking: Although it was tempting, I made sure to stop using my smartphone in bed, opting to keep it on the other side of the room. I also bought a pair of blue-light blocking glasses to use when I worked on my computer late into the evenings. After five days of consistently wearing these glasses and staying off screens in bed, I experienced less headaches and eye strain.
New Mattress: Investing in a new mattress was something that has tremendously improved my quality of sleep. Noticeable improvements to my quality of sleep were immediately noticed. With the right amount of firm support, my body felt incredible when I woke up the next morning and thereafter.
Sleep Journal: I started keeping a sleep journal through the Logos Health app because it allows users to speak to log their hours of sleep on the go. I also use the app to track my nutrition, mood, and exercise goals. Doing this was one of the more subtle improvements to my sleep hygiene. Over the course of one month, I began to feel happier and grateful when going to sleep and waking up, thanks to the self-reflection and gratitude entries I would write every evening and morning. If there was only one lifestyle change I could make to get better sleep, it would be keeping a journal since, although it yields more gradual positive results, it has also improved other aspects of my life beyond sleep, including my relationships with friends and family, handling stress and anxiety, and being more intentional with day-to-day decisions.
Bedtime rituals: I call this a luxury, but have you tried baths? — I mean real baths — soaking in the tub with some essential oils is so relaxing, and sleep comes easily after that. To form a positive bedtime habit, I started taking a relaxing bath before bed on Sundays. I found that it was the perfect way to end the weekend and prepare myself for a new week. I also aimed to go to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends. This has not been easy to do, but I am getting better at sticking to this beneficial habit.
By educating myself on the underrated significance of sleep and incorporating these various lifestyle changes, I have noticed an incredible improvement in my quality of sleep and my wellbeing. I no longer struggle with falling and staying asleep after incorporating all of these lifestyle improvements. Nowadays, I sleep for a glorious average of seven hours and wake up feeling rejuvenated and prepared to carpe diem.
To learn more about the Logos Health app and sleep logs, check out our Home page.
Note: If you’re really struggling with sleep, please consider reaching out to a health care professional.