Like many people, sleep evades me when I’m under high stress, the time I need it the most. But I have come to find that natural sleep remedies, whether they’re routines or supplements, have helped me a lot during times when self-doubt and worries creep in before I shut my eyes. These practices have become increasingly important during a global pandemic and a monumental human rights movement.
Shanelle McKenzie, co-founder of The Villij, an organization committed to making the wellness space more inclusive, reminds me that, “as a woman of color, it’s important to recognize sleep as a form of self-care. We are looked to as healers and nurturers, but without the proper rest and self-care, who are we to our community?” Her fellow co-founder Kim Knight adds that now, “more than ever, women of color need to be reminded that they have done enough. As nurturers, we must deliberately take care of ourselves. Prioritizing sleep is a form of radical self-care for us.”
Whether it’s soothing meditations, calming music, or teas and supplements that help you find dreamland, Knight emphasizes “your relationship with sleep is important. Like any other relationship, be open to exploring and once you find what works for you, stick to it.”
Here, a few ways to help you find your well-deserved rest.Journal
“Sleep deprivation is real and can be very harmful. As someone who has struggled with sleep, I’ve learned to make it a goal. I create a daily schedule that includes naps and bedtime,” Knight says. That schedule also includes making a worry list right before bed. “It’s been a great way to release and create room for rest in my brain.” Tia Clinic’s chief medical officer, Stephanie McClellan, M.D. suggests journaling before bed to “address your [anxieties] directly.”
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Meditation comes in different forms. You can do yoga to connect the breath to the body, or simply sit still and practice mindful breathing. “Some nights, I also do stretching and listen to guided meditations,” Knight says. McKenzie adds that the art of practicing breathing exercises has helped her doze off quickly at night. Great meditation apps include Headspace, Calm or, Knight’s favorite, Liberate Meditation app, made for Black, Indigenous and other people of color. “The app features a list of meditations specifically for sleep and brings me great comfort.”Listen to calming music
“During the days when I’m having trouble resting, I look to apps such as Spotify play slow and relaxing R&B music, which usually lulls me to sleep,” says Mckenzie. Dr. McClellan tells her patients: “If you wake up, don’t turn the lights on. Instead, turn some music on that speaks to you in a joyful way. Visualize the happiness that it brings up in you, and it can help you fall back asleep.”Aromatherapy
Knight recommends using a humidifier to improve air quality. “It helps with breathing and keeps your skin hydrated.” McKenzie loves essential oils to aid in relaxation before dozing off. One of her favorite scents is “Sleep Well,” by Saje Wellness. “I usually roll it on my neck and wrist for the ultimate calming aroma.” Dr. McClellan says that keeping the room at a cool temperature is key as well.
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Shop NowTinctures and supplements
Larisa Litvinova, M.D., recommends lemon balm and ashwaganda, both of which helping with calming the body, mind, and also building immunity. Natural Vitality’s Calm powder includes magnesium, which Dr. McClellan notes is "cortisol-reducing."
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Shop NowTake a warm bath or shower
Even in the warmer months, Dr. McClellan suggests a hot bath, which can reduce stress. Add a bath bomb, and top your skin off with CBD-infused lotions, such as Haoma’s Night Cream, to lock in the moisture and muscle relaxation.
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The perfect gift for her to incorporate into her nighttime bath routine. The lavender and epsom salt help to soothe sore muscles, and prevent insomnia, eczema, and psoriasis.
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Shop NowDrink Tea
Knight suggests drinking warm tea before sleeping. “Raised in a Caribbean household, tea has been part of my daily routine. I find drinking a cup of chamomile tea right before bed to be soothing and helps me fall asleep.”
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Make your bed comfortable
On a personal note, not sleeping next to my boyfriend has been difficult during this time. I’ve found that body pillows and weighted blankets have brought me a lot of comfort, making me feel secure with a sense of being cuddled.
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This multi-positional pillow is the perfect gift for those struggling to get restful sleep during pregnancy.