Bed butter is a thing.
This article is cross-posted from my weekly newsletter, The Sunday Soother, a newsletter about modern spirituality and useful tips for creating more meaning in your life that goes out every Sunday morning. To get more content about how to infuse your life with thoughtfulness, reflection, and meaning, subscribe here. I am also a holistic personal development coach. You can learn more about working with me here.
Happy Sunday, friends. After the big news and housekeeping of the last few weeks of the Soother, I wanted to just send you all a simple list of things that I’ve been benefitting from lately that have made my life easier and more delightful. And because I am an energy monster who turns into a sullen, unfocused, cranky teenager without a solid seven or eight hours of shuteye a night, today, these tricks relate to sleep.
In July, I was wracked with anxiety and overwhelm at the awareness of all the changes I was (willingly) calling into my life. I went several nights with only a few hours of sleep, and in a couple of cases, I was up all night, staring at my ceiling, twisting sheets frantically around my body, til the dawn broke through my blinds.
This was unfamiliar. Though I’m a person who exists with anxiety, sleep has never been a problematic area for me. So when this insomnia and tossing and turning came a-callin’, I decided to do some research into ways this would NEVER HAPPEN TO ME AGAIN BECAUSE GOD NOT SLEEPING IS LITERALLY THE WORST AND IT MAKES ME A CRAZY PERSON!
So below, here are some of the best and most interesting ways I’ve found to achieve better sleep. These aren’t your same-old tips of counting your breath or drinking chamomile tea or not drinking six espressos immediately before bed (though, those are nice ideas!). These are things I’d never tried before that sounded wacky but made a serious impact. Let’s take a look.
- Light. I’d never before considered the factor that bright light played in disrupting my evening before I went to sleep. I’m the kind of person who’s flitting in and out of the bathroom slamming the light on and off doing a comprehensive skincare routine, but it turns out, the crashing on and off of bright lights in the hours before you go to bed can be extremely disruptive to your brain and signal not that it’s an hour before bedtime, but in fact that it’s time to get up.
So this sounds a little inconvenient, but I started existing with just a couple of very low lamp lights and a shit ton of candles for two hours before bedtime. And in case you are my mom and read that sentence and immediately called the District of Columbia fire department to live on standby outside of my apartment, I bought dozens of these beautiful little electronic candles that turn on and off on a timer. I set them to go on at 7pm, and it’s totally magical when, every evening, they all start to flicker on one by one, convincing me not that I live in a modern-day darkest political timeline, but instead am a woman of the 1800s without any significant rights or economic earning potential, but at least I sleep well.
Also, do NOT underestimate the relaxation capabilities of doing your skincare routine in the evening by candlelight. Need to be further convinced? Read this lovely article on the magic of candle hour.
- Bed butter. Okay, bed butter is just the gross nickname a friend of mine came up for it, but what it actually means is this: taking a spoonful of almond butter immediately before bedtime (it can also be coconut oil) — and keeping it by your bed and taking a spoonful again in case you wake up in the middle of the night. Apparently it can be very common — especially if you have stress and a poor-ish diet — to have blood sugar surges and crashes throughout the night that can wake you up and make it difficult to go back to sleep, so having almond butter or coconut oil to level out your blood sugar through the night is a good idea. I have found this extremely effective for me, personally.
- Electronic screens. In addition to regular overhead/lamp light that could be disrupting your sleep, of course, of COURSE, screen light is ruining your sleep. I installed Flux on both my iPhone and laptop.
- Planning REM cycles. I use sleepyti.me religiously to help me figure out what time I need to be falling asleep based on whatever time I need to wake up.
- Lavender oil and magnesium spray on my feet. The lavender smells great and is super relaxing, and magnesium spray is said to be helpful with sleep, for uh, … science reasons (I AM NOT A DOCTOR). In any case, it just feels good and calm and ritualistic to spray these things on the soles of my feet before bed and rub them together.
- A good smell. I burn my favorite incense starting an hour or two before I need to go to sleep. I’m convinced it sets off something in my brain that says it’s time to chill out and get ready for bed.
- Sleep meditations & hypnosis tracks. I’m a big fan of Andrew Johnson’s and Michael Sealey’s sleep meditation and hypnosis. Who knows if the hypnosis part of them works, but I know I am OUT in like 5 minutes when I pop these in my earbuds, both of them have voices that are like liquid Xanax.
- A sunrise light alarm. The best thing I did for my sleep in the last year was to buy this alarm clock that wakes me up with a gentle light and sounds of nature. Previously I used a jarring analog alarm that would scream me awake until I found it, slapped snooze on it, and threw it against the wall repeatedly. This one is so gentle and soft.
- The concept of ‘good enough’ sleep. In June I wrote about the concept of the “good enough [fill in the blank].” Guys, it turns out I have a pediatric sleep psychologist and an assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, Lynelle Schneeberg, reading this newsletter (COOL?!), and she wrote letting me know about the concept of “good enough sleep.” We all think eight hours is the must, but she said as long as you’re getting around five, that’s two full REM cycles, and that is probably “good enough” — so hopefully letting you relax a little bit around getting “perfect” sleep every night. (Dr. Schneeberg also just released a book about all of her wonderful tips on getting children ages 3–10 to sleep and sent it to me and it’s SO smart, any parents out there should absolutely get it.)
So those are my sleep tips. Since I’ve started implementing those I am back to sleeping like the big ole 39-year-old baby that I am.
Sleep, for me, has such a domino effect — when my sleep is good, everything else just seems easier, more wonderful, just a little bit lighter.
I hope that these tips may help you have a good night, and therefore, many a good day going forward.