5 Hacks for Better Sleep

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I have struggled with insomnia my entire life. As a kid I was generally the first one up in the mornings. As a college student, I’d get up in the middle of the night to watch old movies. The difference was back then it didn’t make me tired.

As a newlywed, I’d often wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and spend an hour or so knitting before I was able to get back to sleep. For a while I seemed to sleep okay, and then there was perimenopause and menopause — maybe you can relate? I rarely have problems falling asleep, but I was still often waking up an hour or more before I actually wanted to get up. Only now, in my 50s, it makes me tired.

I’m happy to say I’m sleeping a little better these days. I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share the hacks I’ve used to get better sleep.

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Stop liquids after dinner
I often have trouble getting back to sleep if I have to get up and use the bathroom. Yes, it’s true that as we age, there are often more trips during the night.

One simple way to minimize those bathroom trips is to have a cut off time for drinking liquids. Since I’m an early to bed, early to rise person, for me, that’s after dinner. Your time might be different, but I’d suggest stopping all liquids (with one exception below) at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed.

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The exception: tart cherry juice
I started drinking a small amount of tart cherry juice about an hour before bed a few months ago. It’s the gift that keeps giving: not only can it help you fall asleep, it can also help with inflammation and therefore boost recovery for runners. And unlike beet juice (also helps with inflammation and recovery), I like the taste.

When I remember, I also have a little in the morning, too. I use it to take my multivitamins. See this article here for the benefits of drinking tart cherry juice.

Write out — yes, by hand — a to-do list right before bed
I know: writing is so old school. It’s also very effective in helping you to remember things. Which is why I suggest actually writing out a to-do list. And doing it before you go to bed helps you calm your mind — you’re not laying in bed trying to remember all the things you have to do tomorrow.

You can, of course, also use an app. If you do, I suggest doing so in addition to writing it out.


Write out — again, by hand — 3 things you’re grateful for
It’s way too easy to focus on the negative. The news almost always negative. No matter how bad your life seems, no no matter how bad the news seems, there is always something to be grateful for. Writing it down helps you to focus on the things that are going right in your life.

Think there’s nothing going right in your life? Start with the basics:

  1. I’m grateful I can breathe on my own
  2. I’m grateful for my warm (or cool, depending on where you live) home
  3. I’m grateful for my health
  4. I’m grateful for my family
  5. I’m grateful for my friends
  6. I’m grateful for my furkids
  7. I’m grateful for sunshine
  8. I’m grateful for healthy food to eat
  9. I’m grateful for my ability to run, walk, talk, see, etc.
  10. I’m grateful for my comfortable bed

There ya go — if you’re stumped for anything to be grateful for in your life, I’m pretty sure you’ll find something on the list above.

For God’s sake, get off the electronics already!
It may be somewhat unfair for me to say this: I don’t work outside the home. I’m not super attached to electronics — ask my friends. Still, it’s so tempting to check facebook one more time, email one more time, and before you know it you’re up way past your bedtime.

Then there’s the fact that you often get caught up with stuff online that riles you up. Not a good recipe for good sleep.

That’s not the real problem, though — that’s the blue light that electronics emit (see here for more information on blue light). If you sleep like a baby, no worries. But if you’re struggling with sleep, keep the phone out of your bedroom. And the tablet, computer, and television. At the very least, keep it on do not disturb.

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

Do you more hacks for better sleep?

Do you have a sleep routine?

Is your phone always by your side?

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24 thoughts on “5 Hacks for Better Sleep

  1. I, too, struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Some of your suggestions I already use, others I will. You post some great ideas.

    Yes, I am one guilty of constantly checking f/b in the evening. Perhaps a cut-off time for that as well as for consuming liquids would help. We have no electronics (except for a small tv which my better half may or may not check quickly before bed. I? I never turn on the tv, with the rare exception of a series in which I am interested (e.g. “Bosch” on amazon prime). But our big tv is in the family room downstairs and therefore no temptation at all. (I wouldn’t mind if we had no tv at all).

    A help, though some nights (like last night, not) is an essential oil diffuser, a gift from an RN friend who was concerned about both my insomnia and difficulties with my immune system. I find that lavender oil, a known sleep enhancer, works best. It’s soothing and the scent is relaxing. If I have to get up to use the facilities I am able to get back to sleep.

    Also, I take valerian root capsules. I’ve been doing that for years and find it very helpful. I checked it out with my physician first, of course, to be sure it was not contraindicated because of my medications.

    Thanks for the tips.
    And good luck sleeping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know lavender oil is great for sleep, but somehow I just never remember to do it. I know valerian is good, too, but my problem is actually getting to sleep — it’s staying asleep! Thanks for sharing the tips, Connie.

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  2. I am a horrible sleeper and always have been but luckily it’s hasn’t affected my running (or I would have blogged about it)

    I have the problem of falling asleep. I need absolute quiet (no snoring or I sleep in another room)

    My hacks are:

    –no food a few hours before bed (no snacks)
    -no exercise a few hours before bed
    -no electronics (including no TV)
    -cell phone next to my bed (in case my hubby calls)
    -glass of water next to my bed
    -a good book
    – a cup of herbal tea (I don’t have the problem of getting up …yet)
    – glass of wine
    -melatonin

    Luckily I don’t need a lot of sleep because sometimes I wake up and can’t back to sleep too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You probably don’t have problems getting up in the night because you don’t drink a whole lot of liquids during the day.

      I’ve tried melatonin, and didn’t find it useful for me, although interestingly part of how tart cherry juice works in it does convert a small part to melatonin.

      I’d love to drink tea before bed, but I know it just doesn’t work for me. Everyone is different. My sister swears by hers.

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  3. Good ideas. I don’t keep my phone or apple watch in the bedroom. I do sometimes read a kindle before bed, though. I should really stick to paper books then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My kindle is a paperwhite, so no blue light — and yes, I do read from it every night. So maybe you need to get the paperwhite version. πŸ™‚

      I do wear my vivoactive, but again, it doesn’t emit a light. I don’t keep my phone in my bedroom either, except when I’m by myself or something is going on in the family. But someone else does.

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  4. I have always been a good sleeper, though when I was younger it would take me a while to get there. Lately though I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night, wide awake and unable to fall back asleep. I want to try that cherry juice to see if it helps. It’s so annoying!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I use a sleep spray on my pillow, and drinking milk after dinner. I’m also doing stress relief and relaxing yoga to help turn my mind off. It gets me away from my phone, which is always a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope I’m not jinxing myself here but I’m one of those people who can put it down almost anywhere and get a good night’s sleep with no waking….unless the dogs get me up..but that’s a different story. I realize more and more, especially as I age how uncommon this is. The Caveman on the other hand really struggles. He falls asleep easily but does not stay asleep and it really takes a toll. He’s a screen addict though, I’m sure that’s not helping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trust me, you’re very lucky. Light & noise really bother me. At home I don’t have trouble falling asleep, not usually, but yes, waking up too early has been a problem for years & I’m not a screen addict.

      Of course, after I’d scheduled this post, I was woken up Wed night by Mr. Judy’s cell phone way too early, and last night Bandit decided he needed to go out at 12:30 — so here I am, sleep deprived again through no fault of my own.

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  7. Great hacks, Judy! I’m not a big fan of cherry flavor, so I’ve never tried tart cherry juice. I like the benefits, though. I have started attempting to stop drinking anything after 8PM, and I do think it’s helpful, but I haven’t perfected it yet. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are definitely nights I do have something to drink right before bed. If you’re thirsty, you’re thirst, and it doesn’t make sense to go to bed thirsty because then you probably won’t sleep well.

      Oh, cherries are one of my favorite fruits! You could always try beet juice. πŸ™‚ Only that’s for energy, not sleep.

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  8. I had not heard of tart cherry juice as a potential sleep aid. I used to have it on hand all the time…I think I got out of the routine of buying it when I had my summer sabbatical and wasn’t “training” for anything. I agree…it tastes A LOT better than beet juice!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s so interesting about the “blue light” theory. I use that data a lot with my teenage patients to convince them to turn off the phone. Yet I read every night before bed on my iPad–and I have no problem falling asleep!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Do you more hacks for better sleep? Regular exercise. Less caffeine.

    Do you have a sleep routine? I try to keep the same schedule regardless if is a work night or not.

    Is your phone always by your side? No. I don’t even own a smartphone. No desire to be so attached to a phone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I try to convince my husband that getting every day at the same time is a good thing. Heck, I don’t even work, but I still tend to get up at the same time.

      I do like having a smart phone (didn’t for a long time); they are useful. But I am definitely not terribly attached to it.

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