The BEST Sleep Hack

sleepy eyed face

In this episode I’ll tell you how to create the best routine for getting more sleep

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So we have to talk about bedtime.  That’s what we’re talking about today. In my family (my mother’s side of the family), half my clients, and many of my friends, do not sleep well. I really don’t play about my sleep, but I know it’s really hard for some people to get enough sleep, whether it is falling asleep or staying asleep. We’re talking about this today because it’s a topic I talk about so much with my 1:1 clients, and it came up a lot last week. Whether it is falling asleep or staying asleep, I have the hack. I have the fix that I hope will save you a lot of sleepless nights.

The Best Hack to Get More Sleep – Podcast Breakdown

[0:00] Introduction – Welcome to the Generation Freedom Podcast! My name is Nadie Roberson and I’m a licensed professional counselor in Houston TX, and on this podcast we talk about all things mental health to become the best versions of ourselves. This podcast is not meant to be a substitute for a relationship with a mental health professional.

[1:00] Background – On my mother’s side of the family, my friends, and clients frequently come to me with issues with sleep. Sometimes it’s getting to sleep, and other times it’s staying asleep. So we’re going to talk about this topic today because it’s been coming up a lot lately. I have the hack to save yourself from a lot of sleepless nights.

[2:30] The Hack – Creating a bedtime routine. What does this mean? A routine that comes down to 3-5 things you do in the same order every night as a ritual every time it’s time to go to bed. When this becomes a habit, your brain starts to recognize that it’s time to sleep. I always suggest choosing 3-5 sensory activities to do before bed. When I say sensory activities I mean things that have to do with touch, taste, smell, hearing or seeing.

[3:12] Sensory Activities – Touch: taking a shower and feeling the water on your skin, or putting on body lotion at night which can also be a combination with smell if it’s scented body lotion. Taste: Drinking hot tea at night, or eating a mint or small candy before bed. Smell: Using essential oils as a pillow spray or rubbing some scented lotion on your hands. Hearing: Playing ocean sounds, relaxing music, or meditation recordings. Sight: Reading, crossword puzzle or sudoku puzzle.

[4:42] Example –  I’ll give an example of my routine and we can try to come up with one for you! For me my normal night routine is putting lavendar oil on my pillow and on my hands, then I used to play meditations or calming music but lately I’ve been getting into watching ASMR videos on my iPad, and then I’ll drink some sleepy time tea. Those are my three steps, sometimes I’ll also read before bed too but I’m not as consistent with that so I wouldn’t consider it part of my routine.

[5:49] Your Routine – So, whatever activity sounds the most relaxing to you when it comes to your senses, try to do those. The trick is to do them all in the same order every night and to make sure these activities are sensory because they have the strongest associations in your brain. Think of 3-5 of them, don’t get too complicated because you want it to be simple so it’s easy to remember and repeat.

[7:48] Tip 1 if you have a hard time staying asleep – If you wake up in the middle of the night, I suggest you wake up and get out of your bed. You can wash a dish, walk around for a bit, and once you get sleepy again go back to your bed and lay down. I recommend you don’t lie awake in bed for too long, because your brain will start to associate the bed with awake time.

[9:08] Tip 2 – Try to only use the bed to sleep. If you want to read or watch tv before bed I recommend you do these activities outside your bed. This helps your brain make connection that the bed is only for sleep.

[10:04] Recap – Make a nightime bedtime routine with 3-5 relaxing sensory activities. For those of you who have a hard time staying asleep only sleep in the bed, do all other activities in other areas of the house. If you wake up in the middle of the night get up out of bed and do things, then once you’re tired redo your bedtime routine before you go back to sleep.

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My best cure for a lack of sleep is a bedtime routine or nighttime routine. What does that mean? A routine is 3-5 things you do in the same order every time. Routine is important because structure allows the brain to wind down, especially at nighttime. So you don’t have to think about the next thing or the next couple of things, it’s already done. It takes a lot of anxiety and overthinking off the table.  Routines also help neurologically because your brain will start to make associations with bedtime activities. So once they become a habit your brain will start to recognize sleep is about to occur.

Here’s how you do it. Choose 3-5 sensory activities to do before bed. And just start to do them over and over again. Sensory activities can be anything you either touch, taste, smell, hear, or see. Here are some examples:

  • Touch – taking a shower, of using all over body cream
  • Taste – drinking some tea, having some candy or a mint
  • Smell – using essential oils in a diffuser, or lighting a candle
  • Hear – listening to ocean sounds, playing a relaxing music playlist, or practicing meditation
  • Sight – reading, doing crosswords or Sudoku puzzles

Some of these things overlap senses or incorporate more than one sensory experience.

For me it’s lavender oil on my hands and on my pillow, play some meditation music or rain/thunderstorm sounds, and then I drink sleepytime tea. In the last couple of weeks I’ve added reading into the nighttime routine. Whatever activities sound the most relaxing to you, just try to do those. And the trick is to do them in the same order every night.

The sensory activities are important because of the high associations your brain makes with your senses. Think about when you smell something that takes you back to a childhood memory. Senses are super-powerful. Even songs – black folks know when you hear that song or a beat that immediately takes you back to a feeling or a mood. The senses are very powerful that way.

And your brain will start to recognize these things, even when it’s not bedtime if you get into the habit. For me it’s whenever I smell lavender, I automatically think it is naptime. Like, what’s going on? Your brain will automatically start associating these sensory experiences with sleep.

The keys to remember are sensory activities (something you touch, taste, smell, hear, or see), and do them in the same order every night. Start to make it a habit so that your brain starts to associate those things with sleep.

Download a FREE Tiny Steps Checklist – A Wellness Kickstarter that will help you, get out of your rut and start living a life you don’t need a vacation from.

A couple of tips and tricks is if you are one of those people that wakes up in the middle of the night, I suggest you get up, walk around do something around the house. Give it 10-15 minutes to see if you get sleepy and then lay back down. I do not recommend just lying in the bed awake, especially if it takes an hour for you to fall back asleep. That becomes another association. You should only go to bed to sleep, so your brain associates the bed with sleep. So get up until you’re sleepy. And if you’re someone who watched TV in bed or does homework in bed, try to limit it to outside of the bed. And when it is time to go to sleep, then get in the bed.

So let me know what you decide to put together for your bedtime routine! Share in the comments below.

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