Think of a good night’s sleep as the foundation for having a good, productive day. It’s easy to get bogged down with things and skimp on sleep. I have certainly done it throughout the years, thinking that I can just get by on 4 or 5 hours a night. But boy does it catch up to you fast, especially after you get out of your 20’s!
Part of my self-care routine in the evening is just trying to do as much as I can to optimize my sleep quality and time. I don’t get it right every night, but I try to because it makes a huge difference over time. I’ve noticed when I prioritize my bedtime routine, I get much better sleep. I’m not just functional the next day or less cognitively impaired, but I’m focused, productive, energized and overall, in a better mood. If the effects of good sleep came in a pill form, we’d all want to take it!
Rule Out Sleep Disorders
If you wake up every morning after having slept for 7 to 8 hours, you still feel exhausted, you make have sleep apnea or some other kind of sleep disorder. If that sounds like you, go to a sleep doctor and do a sleep study. It’s totally worth it. Correcting any kind of issue that impairs your ability to get quality sleep is important. Plus, when you don’t get quality sleep consistently, it can take a toll on your cardiovascular health.
Tamoxifen Side Effects and Sleep
I am on tamoxifen as part of my breast cancer treatment, and one of the side effects is insomnia. It took about a year of me being on it before the insomnia kicked in, and when it did, it was terrible. I had never experienced anything like it. But overtime, I found the right routine for me and it makes all the difference. I no longer have insomnia and I actually look forward to my bedtime routine every night.
Be Proactive During the Day for Better Sleep
Limit your caffeine intake well before bedtime. I try to cut off any caffeine consumption, even small amounts found in tea by 2pm every day.
Daily exercise helps me fall asleep faster at night. The more physical activity I have on any given day, the better quality of sleep I get. Some people have no issues with exercising in the evening and falling asleep. But for some of us, myself included, I will feel wide awake and have trouble falling asleep. So, see how your body responds, and adjust accordingly.
I avoid napping during the day. I don’t know if it is the tamoxifen or what, but if I take even a 15-minute nap during the day, I have a hard time falling asleep at night. So if I start to feel sleepy, I will get up and get moving.
I also try to eat my last meal for the day by 7pm. Having a heavy meal or even late-night snacking can decrease the natural release of sleep hormones in your body. I also try to limit water or other beverages right before I go to sleep. I do have water with a supplement before bed, which I will get to in a minute. But I won’t drink too many fluids right before bed.
Optimize your Environment for Sleep
I like setting my thermostat to a cool 68 degrees before heading off to bed. I will also make sure our bedroom is as dark as it can be, with plenty of blankets on the bed.
A couple of years ago, we purchased an adjustable bed, and we sleep in a zero-gravity position. I had been debating getting a new mattress, which wasn’t that old but it felt to firm to me. I was hesitant because we had spent a lot of money on the mattress we had. So, we decided to try an adjustable platform and we’re still using the mattress we have. It has made a huge difference for both my husband and I and I can’t imagine ever going back.
About an hour before bedtime, I reduce the amount of blue light exposure I have. So that means my phone and laptop are already put away and charging, and the television is off. I like to read before bed or write down ideas I have, or what I hope to accomplish the next day. The reason for all this is that blue light tricks your body into believing that it is daytime. So, it suppresses the natural release of melatonin which allows you to get deep sleep.
Speaking of blue light, even when I am watching television or on my computer at night, I will wear gaming glasses because they block out the blue light and my eyes feel less strain. There are apps you can download onto your computer or phone to block the blue light, but I just wear the glasses.
Before I get into the supplements that I take, I have to give my disclaimer. If you are thinking of taking any of the supplements I mention, be sure to check with your doctor first. They might not be a good choice for you if you are on other medications or have a specific medical condition. Before starting my routine, I did check with my doctor first because I didn’t want to do anything that might interfere with tamoxifen.
About 45 minutes before bed, I take melatonin and magnesium. Our bodies naturally produce melatonin, and I find that adding a small dose of this to my routine is incredibly beneficial. It also helps with jetlag and getting your body’s circadian rhythm back to normal.
I take 5mg of melatonin every night, but they are available in a range of doses. Experts say to start with the smallest amount and work your way up to see what works for you. Everyone is different, so start with 1-2mg each night and increase it slowly. The maximum dose for adults is 5 to 10mg. Melatonin does interfere with other medications, so again, check with your doctor before trying it.
I also take magnesium 45 minutes before getting into bed with 8 ounces of room temperature water. I like Garden of Life Whole Food Magnesium because the ingredients are high quality and there are a lot of servings in the canister.
If you have concerns about taking any of these, Traditional Medicinals makes an Organic Chamomile with Lavender tea that helps you get relaxed before bed. It’s a regular tea that you can buy on Amazon or in your grocery store. Before I tried the melatonin and magnesium, I would have chamomile and lavender tea before bed. Sometimes it worked for me, and sometimes it didn’t – but I am sure that was because of the crazy insomnia caused by the tamoxifen. My husband would have it before bed, too, and he said that it helped him fall asleep fast and he got a good night’s sleep having had it. If I have the tea, I won’t take the magnesium or melatonin because I feel like it’s way too much to have together.
What is your bedtime routine for good sleep? What do you find that helps you the most?