If you’re like most business owners, when you lay in bed your mind doesn’t shut off, in fact it might even turn up. I would even go as far as labeling myself an insomniac. It has taken me almost 40 years to learn how to ACTUALLY sleep. Here’s what I learned:
Surprisingly you do not need to be in bed for a longer duration of time. Instead you need to make the time you can sleep be a solid, deep sleep… even if it’s only 4 hours a night. Think of it like Quality over Quantity. I have figured out that sleep is actually a variety of steps, so let's start with PRE-STEP 1... this is like pre-gaming your sleep.
PRE-STEP 1: If you’re a late night snacker, you CAN eat! Heck, if you don’t eat you’ll be laying in bed thinking about how delish a snack sounds. The trick here is to eat foods that have a mix of calcium, potassium, magnesium, tryptophan, and B6:
- Poultry – Chicken or turkey has tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that you can only get from what you eat and drink. It helps your body make serotonin (a relaxing mood hormone) which then helps your body make melatonin (a hormone that controls sleep cycles).
- Fish – Vitamin B6 is abundant in fish, with salmon, tuna, and halibut having the most. B6 is what makes melatonin, which is normally triggered by being in the dark. By eating fish for dinner, you can give that melatonin a head start before turning out the lights.
- Yogurt – Calcium processes the hormones that help you sleep, tryptophan and melatonin. Calcium, of course, can be found in anything dairy related if you don’t like yogurt. Other things you can try are milk or cheese and crackers
- Kale – Like yogurt, this leafy green is also rich in calcium which is important in making those sleep hormones go to work.
- Bananas – They are high in potassium which helps to keep you asleep throughout the night. It also has tryptophan and magnesium which are natural sedatives.
- Whole Grains – These grains encourage insulin production that result in tryptophan activity in the brain. They also have magnesium which is said to help you stay asleep. When magnesium levels are too low, you are more likely to wake up during the night.
- Honey – Glucose in honey lowers levels of orexin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that makes you more alert. Honey will put that alertness in reverse.
- Nuts – This includes walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. These all boost serotonin levels by having magnesium and tryptophan.
- Eggs – Eggs are popular in the morning, but they also can make you sleepy due to having tryptophan. Try having some breakfast for supper and see what happens.
- White Rice – White rice has a high glycemic index. This simply means that it will give you a natural increase in blood sugar and insulin levels, which in turn, helps tryptophan go to work in your brain faster.
So, if you want a snack, help yourself to some scrambled eggs, a turkey sandwich or some tuna cakes.
Now we can officially get started with sleeping...
STEP 1: GETTING RELAXED ENOUGH TO SLEEP: If you find it damn near impossible to sleep, you’re doing it wrong (trust me, I did it wrong for 35 YEARS!). You have to start by unwinding your active small-business-owner-mind.
DREAM WATER - This product is incredible. As an insomniac this product alone isn’t enough to help me sleep BUT I drink one about 1 hour before I *plan* to *hopefully* be asleep. It does help relax me. (Also I like to drink it an hour in advance because I don’t want to have that awful 3am-need-to-pee!)
GABA Pills - I kid you not, as long as this product is around I will NEVER be without it! You see, most peoples bodies naturally produce GABA but some of us with high stress levels can be GREATLY assisted by the extra dose. GABA Pills are excellent for stress / anxiety, depression and overall relaxation. I personally buy the “NOW GABA” brand off Amazon
KAVA - If you have never experienced Kava, it’s 100% all natural and has been used around the world since the 18th Century! Barely anyone knows that Kava is actually part of the Pepper Plant family, however it’s not spicy at all. It’s earthy, like a tea. Anyhoo, Kava is one of the absolute BEST anxiety reducers / relaxation aids. What you want to buy is a good quality MICRONIZED Kava. Micronized means you can put a scoop or two directly into water and mix it with a spoon without having to shake, strain or boil. The amazing thing about Kava is that it’s fast acting and can be a phenomenal sleep aid. Personally, I usually drink mine during the day at work, typically around 1pm when I feel the need to get more focused but a large quantity of people prefer to have it an hour before bed. Despite what you may see in the media, you do NOT “get high” and there are no other side effects other than feeling relaxed and less stressed. It’s pretty much the same as a 5mg Buspirone pill which is one of the most common prescriptions for anxiety. The difference between Kava and Buspirone is that all prescription pills have side effects whereas Kava does not because it’s a plant root. If you want to give Kava a try to sleep I suggest Happy Kava brand or Kalm with Kava brand. Kalm is better but it’s also double the price. Happy Kava is really good and cheaper. If you have the money to spare, buy Kalm.
TIP: Make sure the listing says MICRONIZED!!! If it’s not micronized you will need to purchase a Kava Shaker bottle.
PILLOW MIST: This may sound silly but you actually CAN train your brain. The trick is to pick a scent of pillow mist that you typically do not smell. For example, if you always burn Lavender candles in your home, DO NOT get Lavender pillow mist, instead get Chamomile, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot or Eucalyptus. Next, NEVER spray the pillow mist unless it is time to sleep, so even though it smells amazing, avoid spraying it any time other than when you are in your relaxation phase (45 minutes or less before you plan to actually be asleep). I love my pillow mists so much that I spray the blankets and sometimes it helps to spray a little on my sleep shirt.
Alternatively there are also “Roll On Sleep Oils”. These work really good if when you sleep your wrist is in close proximity to your face. If you sleep with your arms far from your face go with the pillow mist instead. Both products work wonderfully! And, if you make sure you keep with the routine you will eventually train your brain to associate that smell with sleep… and THAT’S AMAZING!
Now that you have your pre-game plan in place, let's continue to:
STEP 2: SLEEP ESSENTIALS
Weighted Blanket - If you only take 1 piece of advice away from this article, I swear on everything, a weighted blanket has been a Godsend. There’s some kind of gravitational science behind it that proves that the weight on your body calms and relaxes you. When you buy a weighted blanket you’re *suppose* to get the 15 pound if you weigh 150 pounds or less, so I started with a pretty cheap 15-pound weighted blanket then upgraded to the MyPillow.com 20 pound weighted blanket. Yes, I hate to sound like a commercial for MyPillow because I have no affiliation with them other than being a repeat buyer, but they make damn good products that seriously ARE life changing. The MyPillow weighted blanket is pricey, so if you have never had one before, start with a cheaper version… I guarantee you’ll be upgrading within 60 days.
Quick tip about the weighted blanket: You can’t wash it so you need to buy a cover. The covers are pretty cheap on Amazon. The MyPillow weighted blanket comes with a free premium cover. If you need to buy a cover, the weighted blankets are all basically "duvet size" so it's simple to pick one.
The CORRECT Sheets - You guys, I have tried every kind of sheets ever made, lol. In my opinion, the criteria that makes the perfect sheet is:
- Feels soft and smooth
- YOU STAY COOL AT NIGHT
- It wears and washes well. If it gets ruined after 3 washes, it’s junk.
The two best sheet brands I have ever found are Boll And Branch and MyPillow.com’s “Giza Dream Sheets” . Boll and Branch was my all time fav until I ordered the Giza’s. I loved the Gizas so much I immediately bought more for every bed in my household. Shockingly, the Gizas are cheaper than the Boll and Branch sheets.
Obviously a good bed is super important too. If your bed is uncomfortable and you can't afford a new bed the ultimate CHEAP solution is to grab a memory foam topper OR you can buy a brand-spanking-new memory foam mattress on Amazon for under $300 (free shipping too!)! I purchased a 12" memory foam mattress for my teenage son in 2018. He said it's the best thing ever. The exact one I purchased for my son is still available. It's only $269 for a twin size. As far as the mattress topper goes, if your bed has springs that you can feel and you don't want to spend $300 on a new bed, make sure you get at LEAST 3" of foam otherwise it won't help much. You can get a 5" topper for as low as $80!
STEP 3: NIGHT'S OUT, LIGHTS OUT
If sleep is still difficult to you, even after the weighted blanket, the Dream Water and the GABA, you have to resort to something even stronger. Once again, I am a pro in this field because I have tried darn near every over-the-counter sleep aid. I found that ZzzQuil was ok but only for super short term use.
Benadryl - This is over the counter (Amazon). It’s actually called Diphenhydramine HCL on Amazon. I get the 50mg capsules made by “SDA Laboratories” . This stuff is amazing because you’ll be sleeping in 35 minutes and you don’t wake up groggy or feeling the crud.
Disclaimer: We are not doctors and we do not have any form of medical training. The advice in this article is just our opinion, please do not mistake an opinion for medical advice. Always consult a doctor :)
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