Here at Revolutionary Clinics, insomnia is one of the top conditions new patients come to us for help treating.  As proud as we are of the thousands of people we’ve helped fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer with Indica-strains of cannabis products, we also tell our patients that cannabis should always be part of your wellness plan, not the sole focus. When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, you can and should do many other things to prepare your mind and body.

As we celebrate National Sleep Month, here are a few of our favorite, 100% natural tactics for better sleep:

Rearrange, redecorate or upgrade your bedroom, so it’s a cozier, more comfortable place to be

Your journey to a restful night of sleep begins the moment you walk into your bedroom. If the color on the walls, window treatments, or bed covers makes you feel anything but calm and relaxed, consider replacing them with soothing earth tones. A quality mattress and sheets with a high thread count are expensive, but they deliver a nightly return on your investment in the form of a decadent sensory experience that speeds you off to sleep. If you live on a busy street or have a partner who snores, a sound machine can blur out jarring noises and help you calm your active mind. In extreme noise situations, earplugs work wonders, provided they’re not too strong to prevent you from hearing your baby monitor or morning alarm. Diffusing essential oils (try scents such as lavender, vanilla, or sandalwood) can bring on a sense of calm. Removing your TV will eliminate a major distraction so you can focus on sleep.

Make some changes to your diet

When you don’t sleep well at night, it’s easy to overcompensate with caffeine in the morning to get you going and sugar during the day to carry you through. Along with their empty calories, caffeine and sugar can leave you feeling wired at the end of the day. When you feel wired in the evening, it’s easier to give in to the temptation of a relaxing glass of wine to help you calm down. That means more empty calories in your diet and more lethargy in the morning.  You’ll also want to cut back on spicy meals that can cause indigestion and add more foods to your diet that are rich in magnesium, such as legumes and seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews, and whole grains. Snacking on these healthy options throughout the day will help you cut back on sugar, reduce inflammation, and soothe chronic pain that can keep you up at night or disrupt your sleep.

Eliminate screen time at least two hours before you go to bed

Whether it’s social media, catching up on the latest news, or texting friends, every minute you spend on your phone stimulates your brain and compromises your ability to relax. Sure, scrolling Instagram can be relaxing, but studies show it has the opposite effect. Give yourself a deadline to stop using your phone and stick to it by placing it in a drawer or storing it in another room. Share with your friends and followers your decision to set guidelines. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of support you receive and the number of people who have the same struggles with sleep.

If two hours away from your devices is impossible, heed the advice of Senior Wellness Consultant Barb Van Hoosen:  “I think good advice for patients to remember is that they don’t have to be perfect in their bedtime routines to still make a difference in preparing themselves for good sleep. While it’s ideal to shut off screens well before bed, not everyone is able to do that realistically. So as long as we make the effort to get into some consistent bedtime routine, our bodies will respond to that.”

Engage in a relaxing activity an hour before you go to bed

Reading a book, meditating, mild stretching, taking a warm bath – these are all solid ideas to get yourself in a calm, relaxed state so that you climb into bed ready for sleep. If you’re the type of person who gets sleepy after sex or self-love, that’s perfectly OK too. In addition to the physical release, having sex is a meaningful way to reconnect with your partner, putting you in an even better frame of mind as you prepare to sleep. Simply talking to your partner about your difficulties falling asleep can be relaxing and helpful as you try to develop solutions together.

Once you’re in bed, try guided imagery to calm your active mind

Guided imagery is a relaxation tactic recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Your brain is in charge of putting your body in a position to fall asleep. Guided imagery is a way to help your brain along by focusing on pleasant images or situations and exploring them in detail until you fall asleep. For example, let’s say one of your favorite activities is going to the beach. After you’ve pulled up the covers, imagine you’re lying on your favorite beach. Picture the gritty feel of the warm sand between your toes, listen for the sound of the waves gently lapping the shore (this is where a sound machine is a great tool) and a seagull or two in the distance. You may also hear children laughing or the rhythmic clatter of palm fronds rubbing against each other in the breeze. The idea is to occupy your mind with as many pleasant, calming thoughts as possible and push all anxious thoughts away until you fall asleep.

Still can’t sleep? Get out of bed and restart the relaxation process

Your brain is just like a computer; sometimes, the best thing you can do is reboot. If your mind is racing with thoughts of work or other stressful situations in your life, don’t waste time tossing in and turning. Get up, go to a different part of your home and go back to doing something relaxing. Instead of working, turning on the TV, or checking social media, try journaling. Journaling is a great way to work through your challenges and how they make you feel. As you write, you may find yourself putting together a plan that helps you feel better about the new day ahead and more amenable to sleep. Once you’ve emptied your mind on paper, you can close the book on your stress and go back to bed.

We hope you find some of these sleep ideas helpful. If not, please schedule a virtual consultation with one of our patient advocates for more advice and to learn if medical marijuana is a good option for you. If you’ve found relief from insomnia from some other tactic we didn’t mention, please share it in the comments!