Good sleep is at the top of my list of self-care habits. Because of my struggle with headaches, keeping the rest of my health at a solid baseline is extra important to me. Getting at least eight hours of good sleep a night is absolutely essential.
I know that if I can get a solid eight, my headaches are much more manageable. And now there are some days where that gives me a fighting chance at a no or low headache day altogether.
Here are a few ways that I try to make that happen
I’m not sure how long you’ve been reading this blog, but I’ve been listening to Harry Potter audio books for as long as I’ve been writing this blog, so at least twelve-plus years. I’ve listened to them each through more times than I can count, and they still make me ultra happy.
I like that I know the story well enough that I don’t really have to pay full attention as I drift off, but I love the story so much that it’s like someone is sitting there reading me a bedtime story that I can listen to a million times over.
In addition to my audio books (which I listen to on an old iPod), I slip on an eye mask and let myself stroll off into dreamland. I’m a huge fan of a sleep mask because it lets me just black out the entire world.
It’s really great for when I need to nap in the afternoon, or when it gets bright out super early in the summer. It’s great to be able to have the same light on my face when I fall asleep as when I wake up. Right now I’m using this one from Amazon, but I’ve found a couple that I’ve been happy with over the years.
I also really love that I can recreate this situation anywhere. I can slip on that mask and put on my audiobooks in a hotel room or on an airplane and it really helps relax me and bring some of the calming and ritual-based nature of my sleep routine to the craziness that is sleeping away from home.
I’ve found that for me personally, my wake-up time matters more than my go-to-sleep time. When I’m in a good routine, I’m waking up at the same time every day. The only thing that messes me up, is a bad headache day. So I like to use a couple of different apps on my phone to make sure that I’m keeping up with my routine the best I can.
Sleep Cycle is a cool app that tracks your sleep and wakes you up when you’re in the lightest phase of your sleep. This has been great for me. Since getting solid blocks of sleep are super important to me, and waking up at the same time everyday is best for my headaches, it’s great to be able to wake up at the right time.
I also really like that I can go back and track my sleep and see how it matches up with my bad headache days. This is essential information for me and my doctor.
This is another app made by the same people as Sleep Cycle. It’s perfect for taking a quick nap. I absolutely need to take naps some days. I don’t really like it. I’m not a huge fan of wasting part of my day sleeping, and also, sometimes I wake up feeling less rested than when I fell asleep.
Power Nap is great because it has you wake up before you fall into a deep sleep, or it wakes you up after you’ve had a single sleep cycle. So no need to worry about falling into a crazy deep sleep and wasting your entire afternoon.
The Essential Piece
A seriously comfy bed. There is no way I would be able to get a good night’s sleep if I didn’t have a good mattress. We upgraded from a queen-sized mattress that I bought in college to a king-sized mattress last summer and it has made all the difference in the world.
The best thing has been getting in bed and being able to immediately fall asleep; knowing that it’ll be restful sleep. It really helps to alleviate that sense of anxiety that can sometimes happen when you know that you’re not going to get good sleep, and you know it’s going to mess with you the next day.
We bought ours at a local department store, but there are great places online to purchase a mattress, like Leesa, that will deliver directly to your home. Wherever you choose, definitely go with a place that has a great in-home warranty and try-out period. Because everyone is different and while I might love my mattress, it might not be right for you.
Prioritizing good and healthy sleep is one of the best ways I know how to provide self-care (btw self-care is today’s prompt in the free 100 Days of All About Me project). It’s obviously not the end all way to keep yourself in perfect health, it’s just a single component in a much greater puzzle.
But for me, knowing how and what gives me good, solid, restful sleep is an absolute lifesaver.