A few weeks ago, I awoke in complete darkness. Quickly glancing at my alarm clock, I realized that it was still 3AM and felt a flicker of annoyance about the random REM cycle disruption. I listened for the all too frequent pacing of my upstairs neighbor or the jarring wail of a passing ambulance and heard nothing. It was an eerily quiet New York City night.
This was probably the 12th occurrence over the last month.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve recently become fixated on improving the quality of my sleep. I feel like I’ve already nailed down some of the basics – stop obsessively checking the MacBook, iPad, smartphone, FitBit an hour before bedtime, ensure that my bedroom is a temple of darkness, rein in the all-powerful caffeine monster, etcetera…basically, the same old advice that experts have repeated since the dawn of sleep disorders. While these little pearls of wisdom have certainly helped me with falling asleep at night, I still needed some guidance staying asleep.
As a result, I embarked on a few highly unscientific experiments with some new sleep tricks and found few that have offered respite from my late night misadventures
- Restrict fluids before bedtime: My constant companion is my beloved glass water bottle. While drinking like a fish is no problem when I have frequent access to the restroom during the day (gotta get those 10k steps in!), waking up to stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night is not fun. So to keep the late night field trips to a minimum, I’ve banned fluids 2 hours before bedtime. This has made a huge difference. Bonus: word on the street is that this is a recommended practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine, so extra points for cultural awareness.
- Supplementing with magnesium: Lauren’s recent blog post definitely piqued my interest in magnesium, admittedly a supplement I had never pondered in my free time. But after reading about the potential sleep benefits of magnesium, I was a little too eager to get my hands on some. I do love how relaxed I feel after drinking 2 teaspoons of Natural Calm mixed with hot water, so if you were wondering, my vote is for magnesium (over its more famous counterpart, melatonin).
- Supper timing: I can’t count the number of times I’ve read about the benefits of eating a very early dinner and I definitely agree that eating earlier is a better habit than eating late into the evening. But I found that whenever I was eating senior citizen style, I was going to bed hungry and would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with my stomach growling uncomfortably. I thought my body just needed a little time to transition to an earlier mealtime, but after a while, I figured out what was right for my body. 6PM dinner? Recipe for disaster. But 7:30 seems just perfect for me and my gut’s night owl tendencies.