It takes an awful lot of energy to be a teacher, especially during 2020. In order to get that energy, you also need lots of restful sleep each and every night. But that’s much easier said than done for many teachers. Fortunately, we’ve got some solutions. These ideas all come straight from real teachers in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook. Check them out and choose a few to try, so you can start getting better sleep tonight.
IMPORTANT: This information is not meant to replace medical advice. Talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, medications, or supplements.
1. Clear your mind with meditation.
“I do sleep meditation,” says Fae R. “Whole body relaxation for deep sleep. There are a bunch on Spotify. I would make up a playlist of them and keep it on all night.” Alicia B. likes Headspace’s sleep meditation to deal with pain at night. You’ll also find plenty of options on YouTube for free. Check out a suggested list here.
2. Focus on your breathing.
Breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 Technique can give you better sleep. “I do the breathing thing,” Terri B. shares. “In through nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, out through mouth for 8 seconds. I do that 4-5 times and fall right asleep.” Find more breathing exercises for sleep here.
Kal P. recommends The Art of Living’s SKY Breath Meditation. “It helps me release all fatigue and switch off the thoughts in my brain. It involves very effective breathing techniques and provides deep rest to the system in minutes. I rely on it every day to get deep rest and quality sleep.”
3. Listen to a podcast or audiobook.
“I like listening to an audiobook, one I know really well,” explains Cathy C. “The sound of someone reading to me puts me to sleep pretty quickly.” Erin E. counts on the Sleep With Me podcast: “It’s the only thing that works.” Here are some other podcasts designed to help you get better sleep.
4. Get some exercise or try yoga.
Debby R. points out that if you’re working from home, you might be getting less exercise than you’re used to. “Take a walk daily and see if that helps,” she suggests. Learn more about exercising for better sleep here.
Many teachers turn to yoga for their exercise. “There are certain poses that can help you relax and get out of your head,” Jerry S. notes. Paula E. likes Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. Harvard Medical School even has a list of recommended yoga poses for better sleep.
5. Use a sleep app.
There are a variety of apps designed to help you get better sleep. Kristen H. relies on the UCLA Mindful Body Scan for Sleep app. “It’s especially helpful when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep.” Here are more sleep apps worth looking into.
6. Shut out distractions.
Traffic noise, your neighbor’s motion-activated security lights, a puppy who needs some middle-of-the-night cuddles… all of these can disrupt sleep. Find ways to block them out. Kristen H. explains, ” I sleep with a satin eye mask because the room has to be very dark and I usually wear ear plugs.” Black-out curtains can make your room pitch-dark no matter what’s going on outside.
For Katie F., white noise was the answer. “I got a box fan. It actually helps calm me down and makes me sleep more soundly.” You can also purchase white noise machines that simulate the sound of fans, or provide other soothing background noise. Take a look at this list for ideas.
7. Make your bedroom your sanctuary.
Try to make your bedroom a single-purpose space dedicated to sleep. “Set yourself up for success by making bedroom and bed your sanctuary: a place you look forward to going each night,” urges Lisa K. “I had to change my mindset.”
Jeanne B. agrees: “I am redecorating my home to make it more peaceful.” Buy the best sheets and pillows you can afford and add your favorite soothing art and knick-knacks. Most important of all: don’t use your bedroom as your home office if you can possibly avoid it. See more ways to design your bedroom for better sleep.
8. Look into essential oils.
Lavender has long been recognized as an aid to a good night’s sleep. “While it may not solve all issues, it’s calming and relaxing to all the senses,” notes Tifiny B. Use an essential oil diffuser, like Jennifer L. recommends, or pillow spray. You can even try adding some to your bathwater before bed. Learn which essential oils promote better sleep here.
9. Limit your screen time.
“Screen time will mess up your sleep cycle big time,” explains Matthew B., “Specifically blue light from tv, phones, computers, tablets. Try to turn off a screen a few hours before bed. If you can’t, check settings for blue light filters (all newer phones have them) or wear blue light blocking glasses while watching evening TV or late computer work. Check your computer to see if it has a filter or night mode of sorts. I keep my blue light filter on my phone 24/7.” Explore the big benefits of blocking blue light.
10. Invest in a weighted blanket.
“A good friend suggested a weighted blanket to me recently and was telling me how in 30 seconds, she was out for the night!!!” raves Tania P. “She swears by it and really recommends anyone with trouble falling asleep and staying asleep to purchase one. She says it reduces the tossing and turning to practically none at all.” Find out if a weighted blanket is right for you.
11. Explore sleep supplements.
Note: Talk with your doctor before taking any new nutritional supplements.
A huge number of teachers recommend trying melatonin for better sleep. They mentioned products like Nature’s Bounty Sleep3, Celestial TeaWell Sleep Tea, and Natrol’s melatonin supplements. Learn more about melatonin for sleep here.
Magnesium is another popular supplement, though users stress the importance of distinguishing between magnesium supplements to support better sleep versus those used as a laxative. Mary-Anne R. explains, “I found taking a magnesium supplement works on my aches and pains. A friend swears by the magnesium gel which she rubs into her legs every morning.” Find out how magnesium may help you sleep.
CBD oil is another popular option. “A low dose helps calm my brain and wake up more rested when I am physically exhausted the night before,” says Amanda P. Explore the medical benefits of CBD here.
12. Consider medication.
Note: Talk with your doctor before trying any new medications.
“Sometimes medicine is necessary, especially if the underlying cause of the symptoms requires it,” Amanda B. points out. “Not everything can be fixed with breathing techniques.” You can start with over-the-counter meds like Tylenol PM or Unisom, but note that these are not meant for long-term use. Click here to understand more about over-the-counter sleep aids.
Still no relief? “Talk to your primary care physician!” suggests Leticia T. “They might have advice based on your overall health and pain management plan.” They can also prescribe stronger sleep medications if needed.
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