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I Finally Got Off Sleep Aids in 10 Easy Steps, and I'm Sleeping Better Than Ever

woman sleeping

Since getting into my 30s, sleep has been much more challenging. I would often find my mind racing all night, couldn't seem to get comfortable, and would be completely restless into the wee hours of the morning. I began turning to sleep aids a few years ago and got to the point where I couldn't sleep without them. I actually went on vacation last year and forgot to pack some, and it was a nightmare. So bad I had to pick up some heavy-duty melatonin from a pharmacy while out of the country! When I became pregnant again I panicked, not sure what I would do if I couldn't use something to help put me to bed for the next 9 months straight. I know some women get the okay from their doctor to continue with certain types, but mine gave me a hard no. It was then that I knew I needed to make some changes if I ever wanted to get some rest again before the real sleeplessness kicks in once our newborn arrives.

Here are the 10 easy steps I took to get me off sleep aids for good:

#1 - I moved my dinner time up

I've often heard to do this for a variety of health reasons, but never really tried it since it hadn't historically been convenient or possible with my schedule. My work days often went really late, so it was unrealistic for me to sit down and eat at a normal dinner time. Even though I still wish it could be earlier, I made the commitment now to always be eating my dinner by 7pm, and not continue picking or snacking once I was finished. This allowed me to digest sooner, avoid indigestion discomfort, and the common bloating I felt depending on what I had consumed. (It's also worth noting that I found a meal prep company to supplement our grocery orders with, and it's been a game-changer for having fast, nutritious meals available when I need it most!)

#2 - I stopped working after sundown

I had a really bad habit of doing this, often starting deep-thinking projects when I really should have been winding down. Now, I plan my days accordingly, with a more realistic expectation of what can actually be accomplished during daytime hours, and I stick with it. It's been really nice to just spend time with my husband, chat about our day, and watch a show to veg out for the rest of the night after the kids go to bed!

#3 - I invested in a smart humidifier

I only started using humidifiers once I had babies, honestly just because I saw them on all the registries and assumed they must be important in that case (LOL). But I vastly underestimated the importance they have for creating optimal sleep conditions. I found one at Costco, very similar to this one, and haven't slept a night without it since!

#4 - I made sure to get out in the sun more during the daytime

I've read so many studies on the importance of sunlight during the day on sleep. It helps with regulating your hormones, improving sleep patterns because it affects the natural melatonin production in your body and circadian rhythm. A small change that I think is making a big difference!

#5 - I added a heavy blanket on top of my comforter

I've had many friends over the years swear by weighted blankets. I thought it was a crock, and never got into it. One night (totally not for this reason), I ended up using a heavy fleece blanket on top of my normal comforter, and I swear I was being hugged by clouds all night long! Haha, but seriously... it put me right to sleep and kept me asleep, and I have no real understanding of why. But it works, and after a few weeks of this, my husband finally stopped making fun of me and tried it himself. Safe to say, he hasn't slept a single night without it since!

#6 - I switched to pure beeswax candles, and use them nightly

I am obsessed with my beeswax candle for a number of reasons. First, it looks cool AF and we love an aesthetically-pleasing moment that compliments the decor, honeyyy! (Pun not intended, but also good one, I think?) This is the one I love from Amazon! I had read some research about how these types of candles help purify the air by creating negative ions, resulting in a natural calming of the human mind and body (similar to the effects the ocean has on us). They also have a subtle, sweet smell and are 100% natural and nontoxic. (As opposed to most regular candles we buy, which I had no idea are so awful for you!)

#7 - I dim or turn off all lights in the home after 7pm

I think creating a "nighttime" environment has been so beneficial to wind me down. Using only a small amount of artificial light at night seems to get my mind in the right space to transition to sleep mode.

#8 - I stopped using my phone in bed

Ugh, this is a hard one, because I know we all do it. But forcing myself into no more screens in bed has been wildly impactful, honestly. I don't think I realized how bad it was for me. When using my phone in bed "until I was sleepy" (which is what I would tell myself), it would often take me hours to fall asleep afterward, not to mention the fact that I'd inevitably stay up way later reading and scrolling. When I stopped this, I'd fall asleep in under an hour, and shockingly stay asleep until the morning!

#9 - I installed room-darkening shades

I've truthfully tried a few iterations of this throughout my life, finally reaching the real solution in my current home! I've had all the blackout shades you can imagine, and some have worked just fine depending on what direction the sun would rise in relation to where my bedroom windows were in various apartments and such. Now, my bedroom has a ton of windows, which is excellent for natural light in the home, but awful if you don't want to be woken up with the sun every day. (I prefer a slightly later wakeup time!) After years of inadequate remedies, I finally pulled the trigger and contacted a professional shade company to custom build and install window treatments for my bedroom. I don't regret a single penny of it, literally the best money I've ever spent! It's full-on vampire vibes in there, and I love it.

#10 - I use white noise

White noise is the kind of thing I feel like you don't fully realize you need until you no longer have it. I have always slept with a cheap floor fan running, as it helps drown out any sounds that would wake my very light sleeper self up. I notice how reliant I am on this when traveling, and usually try to replicate the sound effect in some way wherever I go. If you haven't tried this already, don't sleep (hehe) on the value of a steady hum to help lull you to sleep every night!

In conclusion...

I'm definitely not a doctor nor a sleep expert, but I can tell you for sure that doing the above all worked for me and has vastly improved my life. I am rested, more energized and focused during the day, and in a way better mood. If you've experienced insomnia, sleeplessness, or can't seem to get off sleep aids, it's certainly worth a shot, and I hope these tips help you the way they helped me!


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