I love sleep. If sleep were a person, I would marry sleep. That’s how much I love sleep. And for most of my life, sleep and I have had a very solid relationship. Always there for me when I needed it. Which is probably why I have had such a difficult time both mentally and physically dealing with the insomnia that has plagued me for the past year or so.
It’s not that sleep always came easily – I’m an anxious person and my mind likes to race especially fast at night. But until the past year, I’ve never faced prolonged periods of insomnia – night after night after night of not being able to fall asleep and not being able to stay asleep once there.
My “sleep hygiene” is already pretty good. I wake up at the same time every morning and (almost never) nap. I (almost always) turn off all screens/devices 30-60 minutes before bed (with the exception of my Kindle and occasionally having to turn my phone back on to set an alarm). I have a relaxing evening routine that involves stretching, meditation and drinking herbal tea. I put on a face mask and ear plugs almost every night to both keep out distractions and to signal to my body that it’s time to sleep. If I do have trouble sleeping, I know to get out of bed, keep the screens off and do some light reading to distract my brain. Sometimes I journal or write to do lists if my mind is really racing and I just need to get the thoughts out.
And some nights, it doesn’t matter what I do, I just don’t sleep. I find myself sitting in the living room, watching the clock go from 1 to 2 to 4 AM. And of course the fact of not sleeping often makes me even more anxious, which doesn’t really help matters. Often, on these nights, when I do finally fall asleep, it’s not quality sleep. I wake up frequently with nightmares. Basically it just sucks.
But I’m not really writing about it to complain (although my mood is a bit off, given that last night I was up until I don’t even know how late, unable to fall asleep or relax at all). Sometimes it just happens. And I could have prepared better for bed last night – I exercised too late in the evening and didn’t turn my iPad off until far too close to bedtime. Neither of those things helped. Here’s what did help:
Sometimes a cup of tea just isn’t enough (even the Sleepytime Extra tea with Valerian Root). Sometimes you need a drink that just feels like a warm hug. And that’s what this drink feels like to me. The recipe below is approximate – I make it based on the ingredients I have on hand and what tastes right. Definitely a taste-and-adjust-as-you-go kind of a recipe. So last night, that meant using the “So Delicious” Coconut-milk based, no sugar added “ice cream” because I didn’t have any coconut milk. Coconut milk would have been better, and it’s what I recommend. The raw honey is important for the relaxation – be careful with other sweeteners that might cause a more significant spike in blood sugar, which might not be so relaxing.
Cassie’s Non-Dairy Sleep Beverage:
1 ½ cups unsweetened, non-dairy beverage of your choice – I use a mixture of almond milk and coconut milk. I find that almond milk by itself is a little thin for this drink – you want the thicker texture.
½-1 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp cashew butter (no sugar added, mine also doesn’t have salt – I’m sure almond butter would also work)
1-2 Tbsp raw honey (to taste – depends on how sweet you want it and also whether any of your other ingredients are sweetened or not)
Vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
1. Combine almond milk, coconut milk, cashew butter and honey in blender until the cashew butter and honey are totally combined.
2. Add vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and any other desired spices and blend until combined.
3. Carefully add hot water and combine until desired consistency is reached.
(Note: I use the hot water to make it warm, but for a thicker consistency or if you don’t want to boil water, you can also leave out the hot water and put it in the microwave after blending).
Do you have any tricks or tips for falling asleep? Non-alcoholic beverages that you find helpful?