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Tossing and turning, counting sheep, and staring at the ceiling. Sometimes falling asleep (and staying that way) is the hardest part of the day. We all know good rest is essential to good health, and yet, more than a third of adults in America don’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
So we asked savvy sleepers from around the country to divulge their best tricks for better rest and relaxation at night. Among their tips, we’re sure you’ll find your dream sleep solution:
1. Conjure up some white noise
Kendra of Catholic All Year said that she used to be the sleep-like-a-rock type, until she had kids. With children in the house, the slightest noise wakes her up these days, and it’s even worse when she’s pregnant. But she was able to find a solution: “The best thing I ever did was white noise. We have a box fan going in our room all night every night, and I have a white noise app on my iPad for travel, or sometimes just even more noise on top of the fan. I can still hear the kids if there’s anything that actually needs my attention, but I don’t wake up every time they roll over.”
2. Bedtime stories work for adults, too
Haley, who writes for the blog Carrots for Michaelmas, has a hard time going to sleep even if she’s not stressed or anxious. She finds that the best and quickest way to turn off her thoughts for the night is an audiobook. “I put in my headphones and listen to audiobooks I know by heart to help my mind track something instead of spinning in circles. I set a timer on my audiobook app for 30 minutes and it rarely takes longer than that to crash!” So plug in your earphones and allow your brain to follow a good story, right down the path to dreamland.
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3. Keep a tighter schedule
Because she’s in college, Tani from Surrender the Brownies is busy all the time with homework, friends, and activities, but she had a simple piece of advice. “Just stay consistent and have a schedule, so that you’ll always be sure to get enough sleep.” So make a bedtime for yourself, and stick to it.
4. Decorate your bedroom to invite rest
Jen from Wildflowers and Marbles knows that the aesthetic of your bedroom can have a huge impact on the quality of your rest. “I know it sounds crazy considering that the best night’s rest includes eyes that are closed, but one of the most important things for me is a space that invites rest because it is soothing and peaceful to look at and be in.” She evokes serenity through pretty lamps, stacks of books and pencils, and a notebook by the bed.
5. Focus on prayers instead of worries
Worry can keep us up at all hours of the night. Britt, who writes on The Fisk Files, has found that saying a Rosary at the end of her night helps her mind calm and clear. “It’s my hope to finish the Rosary before I fall asleep, but in the event that I drift off before I’m finished, I’ve always heard my guardian angel will finish for me. I’ve found focusing on my prayers rather than my anxieties makes for a more restful night!”
6. Turn off the screens an hour before you turn in
Amanda, from True, Good and Beautiful, knows the importance of a good bedtime routine, especially since her newborn baby came into the house. “I get the best sleep when I shut off all screen access an hour before bed. Then I have a full hour to get ready for bed, listen to classical music, diffuse essential oils and read in bed. By the time it’s lights out, I am relaxed and ready to sleep.”
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But her night rituals include spiritual aspects too. Amanda explained, “My husband and I try and pray briefly before hitting the hay. We both share one thing we’re thankful about from the day and one prayer request. Then we each take a couple minutes to pray for each other.”
7. Have patience and pass the wine
Getting an authentic good night’s rest, time with friends and family, eating well, fresh air, laughter and exercise are all things that Sarah Swafford from Emotional Virtue recommends for a healthy sleeping experience. Proper balance and order is the goal, “but we all know you are going to have off days, bad days, nights with little sleep (newborn babies!), or just days where nothing seems to fall into place … and that is okay! Getting good rest is vital to having the energy and stamina to be faithful and virtuous, to be a true servant to others.”
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But simple things like bubble baths and a glass of wine are always good remedies for sleepless nights, too. Sarah says, “We can take St. Thomas Aquinas’ superb advice, “Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.” I think I would go wine, bath, sleep, but I think this combo works! So does adding in ice cream!”