Tips for Falling Asleep

I’ve struggled with falling asleep for most of my life. I’ll lie awake thinking of all of the things I have to do and worrying about how I’ll get them all done. But inflammatory bowel disease comes with its own sleep-related challenges, including waking up throughout the night to run to the bathroom and sleep problems caused by Prednisone. Here are a few tricks I’ve used throughout the years to help me fall asleep.

I love this Harvest Blend Herbal Tea from Trader Joe’s.

I love this Harvest Blend Herbal Tea from Trader Joe’s.

A cup of tea before bed: My favorites are Sleepytime tea and Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea (it’s probably not a coincidence that both boxes feature cute animals). I also sometimes make golden milk, a kind of tea with turmeric, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Below is a recipe from my primary care physician:

Golden Milk Recipe
-1 cup milk (unsweetened almond, coconut, or dairy)
-1 tsp honey
-1 tsp coconut oil (optional)
-1/4 tsp each of ground turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon
-pinch of black pepper
In a small saucepan, gently heat the milk of your choice with the honey and optional coconut oil. Bring to the point where it is almost boiling, then remove from heat. Whisk in the spices until well blended. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, if desired. Serve.

Meditation: I like to take a shower and then meditate before bed. It helps me release any anxiety before I go to sleep. The Buddhify and Headspace apps both have good meditations for falling asleep. A body scan meditation, where you scan through each part of the body and try to release any tension, can also help.

Podcasts: There’s a podcast called Sleep With Me, where the host tells you a meandering bedtime story to help you fall asleep. I’ve listened to it a few times, and while I can’t say it actually put me to sleep, I did find it soothing.

Acceptance: On nights where nothing seemed to help me fall asleep, I used to lie awake like Chandler in that Friends episode, where he keeps thinking “if I fall asleep now I’ll get six hours of sleep… if I fall asleep now I’ll get five hours of sleep…” Now I just try to accept that I’ll fall asleep when I fall asleep, and at least my body is getting some rest in the meantime. On some nights, like those when my mind is kept up by Prednisone, that’s all I can do.

What tricks do you have to help you fall asleep?