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Years ago when Stew and I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, I took a nursing job in a busy Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) working 12 hour shifts on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. At first, I was super excited because my new schedule meant I would always have a four day weekend, but what I didn’t take into account was the fact that nurses never work “just” 12 hours.
We always arrived early to get report and it never failed that we would either have a new admission or a code right before our shift was over which meant we had to stay until things were under control again. Our 12 hour shifts often ended up being more like 14 hours, and let’s not forget that we had to be back that night to start the routine all over again.
It was an exhausting schedule and I soon found that it was nearly impossible to come off a busy shift and go directly to bed. My mind and body both needed a little quiet time to unwind. My legs would be aching from standing a good portion of my shift and sometimes my back and shoulders would be hurting from moving unconscious patients that weighed twice as much as me.
I was in a world of hurt. I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, yet I couldn’t fall asleep to save my life. I tried taking over the counter sleep aids, but they left me groggy, sluggish, and hung over–all of which I couldn’t afford to be while I was at work.
During this time (and the years since then) I have experimented with natural ways to help me and our kids fall asleep easier, stay in a deeper sleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed instead of hungover.
Today I’m going to share with you a variety of techniques and aids that we have been using for years. These same aids have helped our highly gifted boys turn off their busy brains so they can actually get a good night’s sleep. If your kids have problems with sleep, then you may want to try some of these things with them.
5 Natural Ways To Help You Sleep Better
Epsom Salt Bath
When our boys were little, we would give them an Epsom Salt bath with a few drops of lavender oil mixed in. I would let them play in the water for 15 to 20 minutes which was usually long enough for them to relax and mellow out. They loved the smell of lavender and I could always tell a noticeable difference on the nights we stuck with this routine. They would be calmer, more focused, and would fall asleep much faster.
Epsoak Epsom Salt is one of the easiest and cheapest sleep aids available.
Here are some benefits of using epsom salt:
We’ve tried a few different brands of lavender oil but NOW Essential Oils Lavender is our favorite. It has a fresher, cleaner lavender scent than the more expensive lavender oils.
The ladies that work with Stew recommended the Seneo Cool Mist Humidifier/Diffuser to diffuse essentials oils to help with Reid’s allergies. The Seneo has a variety of settings to control the mist flow, an on/off timer to control the length of time of the diffusion, etc. It also has a variety of night light colors to choose from which is a cool feature when it comes to being used in a kid’s bedroom.
Click here for customer reviews, product details, and pricing.
I’ve had friends tell me that melatonin doesn’t work for them, but I really believe it’s important to find the right brand along with the right dosage for you. We’ve experimented with quite a few different brands over the years and had different results with each. Some left us feeling like zombies. Some didn’t seem to work well at all. And some tasted so bad that it was hard to get it down.
For any type of melatonin, it’s important to take it about 20 minutes before bedtime. If you stay up past that 20 minute mark then you may have trouble falling asleep. Remember, it’s trying to help regulate your sleep cycle so you need to do your part after taking it!
The other important consideration with melatonin is that a lower dose generally works better than a higher dose. We prefer to stay in the 1-3 mg dose range.
Here are our favorite two products:
Now Liquid Melatonin is easy to give to younger kids who can’t swallow a pill yet. It tastes good and works quickly.
We’ve recently changed from NOW Liquid Melatonin to Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve tablets. These tabs help me fall asleep quicker, stay in a deep sleep longer, and wake up feeling wide awake (no hang over effect) and refreshed.
Reflexology and Muscle Relaxation
Sometimes tired, tight, achy muscles keep us awake. Just think of all of the neck strain we have from looking at our phones and computers all day. In addition, tension from stress typically settles in the neck and shoulders.
To help relieve this tightness, I recommend doing some gentle stretching followed by foam rolling and reflexology techniques (rolling your foot on a golf ball or spiky deep tissue massage ball).
I’m gonna give you a little heads up. If you haven’t ever foam rolled or rolled your foot on a golf ball, then you’re in for a surprise. It usually hurts some (or a lot) depending on what’s going on with your body. I foam roll my entire body in 5 to 10 minutes and I usually spend a little more time on the areas that are tender or achy. Same goes with rolling my feet on a golf ball. A few minutes on each foot and then I usually sleep like the dead that night.
Adhesions in your muscles prevents good blood flow and oxygen supply to those areas which causes the muscles to feel tight and achy. These foam rolling and foot massage techniques will break up the adhesions, allowing proper blood flow to be restored to the tissues, so just stick with it. The first couple of days are usually when you will experience the most discomfort as the adhesions are being worked free, then the discomfort from the rolling will go away.
Golf Balls to roll your feet on…
Any type of golf ball will do, but I thought these Emoji Golf Balls might make it a little more fun.
Deep Tissue Spiky Massage Ball
Many of our running friends have plantar fasciitis which keeps them awake at night. This Spiky Massage Ball for Deep Tissue Foot, Back, Plantar Fasciitis & All Over Body Deep Tissue Muscle Therapy might give some relief while also providing the benefits of reflexology.
Foam rollers come in all shapes and sizes. Some have smooth sides while others have knobby or spiky sides to penetrate deeper into the muscle tissue.
If you are new to foam rolling, I would stick with this basic Foam Roller.
Click here to see different sizes, product details and prices.
Chamomile Tea has been used for hundreds and hundreds of years to help with sleep. We pour boiling water over our Twinings Pure Camomile Herbal Tea bags and let them steep for about 5 minutes before removing the bag and drinking the tea. We add a sweetener to it but you can drink it plain if that floats your boat.
I hope you’ll give some of these things a try and then let me know what you think about them. If you have any other natural ways to help you sleep, then I would love to hear about them.