Creating a Nighttime Routine for Sleep and Recovery
By Sarah Canney
My husband shot me a look, that “what the hell are you doing?” look. He was relaxing in bed reading an article and I was...I’m not sure what I was doing. I just couldn’t settle down. I wasn’t tired, but I’d been working all day on my computer and a screen was the last thing I wanted to look at. I’d just read a chapter of the book at my bedside table, but that hadn’t done anything to help me wind down. It was already an hour past my typical bedtime. Why couldn't I sleep? I’d significantly reduced my caffeine consumption in the past eight months and had been off a screen for at least the last two hours. But, I. Could. Not. Relax.
It’s nights like these when my drive to be productive at all hours gets super annoying. And to be honest, when it’s not me and my to-do list in overdrive, anxiety often kicks in. Like the night our three kids camped out in the backyard without us and I was up at 12:34 am, 2:17 am and then one final time at 3:55 am, checking on them. Add to that general stress from existing during a global pandemic and sleep can often be a challenge. I can tell when I’ve been off my meditation practice--I’ve been slacking for the past month or so. Probably why my brain is just hopping on the hamster wheel at 10 pm.
Who Needs Sleep, Anyway?
On top of feeling exhausted, the added problems with lack of sleep are that it elevates cortisol levels, which then leaves me with more anxiety and continues my poor sleep cycle. Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation elevates cortisol levels significantly the next day. Sleep is also a key factor to muscle recovery. As an athlete, I’m keenly aware of the major impact sleep has on my performance. The saying goes that you gain fitness in your sleep. It’s true! Without sleep, I won’t get recovery. Without recovery, my body can’t make the adaptations necessary for improvement. This is why sleep is a critical piece of any runner’s training plan.
Healist for Sleep
Back in March, as if by divine timing, Healist, creators of wellness products for all things hemp extract, sent me a package of their newest product. I gravitated towards the Sleep Drops, which I began using immediately. At that time, I was training for my DIY 50K and checking the news waaaaaaay too much. At night, I was physically tired, but just couldn’t get my brain to shut down.
Prior to this year, I had limited experience with hemp extract, but I knew of its benefits. A recent study showed that hemp extract is effective in lowering cortisol, improving sleep, and mitigating feelings of anxiety. Everything I needed help with, Healist was the answer. So, I started using Healist Double Strength Sleep Drops, which contains 40mg of hemp extract per 1ml dose each night. I noticed significant changes in my ability to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night (minus those times I have to get up to pee...hey, if you’re hydrated and you’ve had three kids it’s bound to happen, Healist or not LOL).
Once I started taking Healist, I began to adopt a nighttime routine. I’m pretty religious about my morning routine of coffee + journaling + meditation (ok, sometimes I fall off the meditation practice wagon), so it seemed natural to bring that same habit to my nights in order to improve sleep. I looked for other ways to improve my sleep environment.
- I took my phone charger out of the bedroom and it now charges each night in the kitchen.
- I significantly reduced the amount of caffeine I was consuming (I transitioned to just drinking decaf in November 2019, except for on workout and race days).
- I purchased a light alarm clock that slowly brightens to wake you up vs. using sound.
- I started taking Healist Sleep Drops about 15 minutes prior to bed.
Once I introduced this routine, by the time I’d taken Healist, brushed my teeth, washed my face and taken out my contacts, I was ready to fall asleep easily.
My sleep has dramatically improved with the changes I have made, and Healist Sleep Drops are an integral part of that nightly routine. I’m at the point now where instead of taking it every night, I really only take it when I need it--like the night after a hard workout, or long run, or race effort (usually this means a day where I’ve had caffeine), when sleep is really important for recovery.
When my mind is in overdrive with things to do, daily stress, or anxiety, I’ll support my sleep with the Sleep Drops. The benefit? A solid night’s sleep and waking the next day feeling rested and ready to focus. Not only do I feel better on my runs, but my workday is more productive and my mood is overall so much better.