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I’m Jen Hansard, mom of two, ultra runner and lover of green smoothies, coffee & tacos. I took my family's health into my own hands while broke and without health insurance...and have helped 1 million+ other families along the way.

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PLANT BASED MEAL PLANNER

How I Get Great Sleep Night After Night



Getting enough good quality sleep is just as important to your health as fueling your body with lots of fruits + veggies.

Sleep supports healthy brain function which makes you more alert and focused during the day, is linked to emotional well-being, and boosts your immune system to keep any yucky germs at bay. Also, while you’re snoozin’, your body is in hardcore repair mode. Muscles get a chance to be replenished, and damaged cells and blood vessels are repaired.

All of that sounds great, right? Yes, but if you’re struggling to get good quality sleep at night, you may be wondering—how can I get in on all those awesome sleep benefits?

First of all, let me tell you, last year I was really struggling to get a decent night’s sleep. I would stay up late doing work, reading a new book, hanging out on Instagram, or binging on a new Netflix series. But, by tweaking some of my evening routine and investing in a few products that help me get good quality shut-eye, I’ve learned to set myself up for success as much as possible for a good night’s rest.

I want to share my sleep secrets with you! These are specific tips + products I use in my own life to help me sleep soundly night after night.

 

7 GAME CHANGERS FOR A GREAT NIGHT’S SLEEP


1) BEANS 72 ORGANIC BUCKWHEAT PILLOW

I didn’t always know this, but pillows actually play a specific role in how well you sleep. Your pillow is there to support your neck and upper back, which is important to help maintain proper alignment of your spine.

Finding a pillow I loved took some trial and error—but now I’m obsessed with my Beans 72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow (I even bought a separate travel-sized one for when I’m on the road!). If you haven’t heard of buckwheat pillows, they are a sleep game changer for sure. I love mine because it helps support my neck and molds to my head, but doesn’t collapse like foam pillows. It also doesn’t hold heat, so if you’re constantly chasing “the cool side of the pillow”, chase no more my friend. I also love that this brand uses 100% organic buckwheat hulls, and the case is made of 100% unbleached cotton (zero chemicals for the win!).

2) YOGI TEAS SOOTHING CARAMEL BEDTIME TEA

I can’t take credit for this Yogi Bedtime tea—Tim Ferris actually got me hooked on it. My husband and I drink it every single night in bed together (and have it on an Amazon subscription so we don’t run out). Having a hot cup of herbal tea is a great way to relax and calm the body before bed, and this one happens to be my personal favorite for a few reasons. First of all, all of the ingredients are non-GMO. Secondly, the mix of herbs in this particular blend is specifically designed to promote sleep. Chamomile, skullcap, and poppy all soothe the nervous system and may help reduce anxiety. As an added benefit, the mixture of vanilla and caramel tastes amazing!

3) GOOD QUALITY EARPLUGS

I got into using earplugs to sleep back when I was in college and my husband and I lived in a super noisy apartment. Even though we no longer have to deal with noisy neighbors and are happily settled on a quiet culdesac in the suburbs, I still use earplugs to guarantee a good night of sleep. My husband occasionally snores (even though he denies it) and the train whistles toots, so the earplugs drown that out.

4) NO CAFFEINE AFTER 2 PM

If you’re a coffee lover like me, you’ve probably found yourself in the situation when your heart is racing at bedtime thanks to that 4 PM latte. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system which can disrupt sleep patterns when consumed too late in the day. I’ve even read articles from sleep experts that recommend cutting out caffeine completely from your diet. These days, I’m definitely more conscious of how much caffeine I’m consuming, and if I do have a cup of coffee, I make sure it’s before 2 PM.

P.S. If you’re looking for an awesome afternoon coffee alternative, I’m a huge fan of Dandy Blend tea. It is the closest thing I’ve found to coffee and is gluten-free + caffeine free!

 

5) ALARM I LOVE WAKING UP TO

I love my alarm clock. It syncs to my iPhone so I get to wake up to music I enjoy instead of scrambling to silence some blaring BEEP BEEP BEEP. Knowing I get to wake up to some of my favorite tunes makes me go to bed looking forward to getting up in the morning! Currently, I wake up to “Needtobreathe: Difference Maker” which has an acoustic intro that is so lovely to start the day too.

 

6) LIMIT MYSELF TO 60 MIN OF TV AT NIGHT

I used to be all about binging on Netflix at the end of the day. I would stay up way past my bedtime trying to squeeze in one more episode of House of Cards, and next thing I knew I’d be tossing and turning in bed, worrying about facing the next day on 6 hours of sleep (my body functions best with 9 hours, so with only 6 I am seriously dragging). A lot of sleep experts recommend keeping electronics out of the bedroom and limiting their use past 8 or 9 PM, but for me personally, I’ve found that watching an episode of my favorite show with my husband before bed helps me unwind. (I do, however, keep my cell phone out of the bedroom.)

Nowadays, instead of going on a hardcore Netflix or Amazon Prime binge, I limit myself to one episode of a show each night. My husband and I just wrapped up Man in the High Castle and are currently loving Mozart in the Jungle. Even if we really want to know what happens next once the credits start rolling, we’ve made a pact to turn off the TV and opt for a good night’s sleep instead.

7) IN BED BY 10 PM

Did you know the most regenerative sleep occurs between 10 PM – 2 AM? Yep. This is prime sleep time. I know for me, if I’m not in bed by 10 PM one of two things happen—either I’ll wake up not feeling as rested because I didn’t get a big chunk of “deep sleep time”, or else I’ll get a second wind and it’s difficult for me to fall asleep at all. I try to make sure I am in bed by 9pm, which means my teeth are brushed and my face is washed. That gives me an hour to sip on my tea and watch a show with the hubby and shut my eyes around 10pm.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

If you have an evening routine or bedtime product that you love, leave a comment and let me know!

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Now, LET'S DISCUSS...
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  1. Lisa

    April 13th, 2017 at 6:03 am

    Amen to all of this! Some great tips, I didn’t know about the pillow and will definitely look into that. Finding a comfy foam one seems impossible. I would add that finding 10 minutes to stretch always helps me, it’s amazing how much tension it can release after a busy day. Sweet dreams x

  2. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Oh, I tried so many foam ones…. even a Japanese one from my chiropractor. Yet the buckwheat wins by far for me! Stretching before bed sounds wonderful and so smart too. Esp with all the computer work I do! Thanks Lisa.

  3. Rhonda B.

    April 13th, 2017 at 6:06 am

    I throughly enjoy a cup of Smooth Moves tea before bed. Knowing my body is cleansing while I sleep is a great feeling.

  4. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Haha! That tea is super effective! I’ve brought it while traveling to keep things “moving along” when I am eating out of whack.

  5. Marcia

    April 13th, 2017 at 6:16 am

    I love dandelion tea. I’ve told others that it’s very bold and the closest thing to coffee ….

  6. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Me too! We use that in our Fresh Start cleanse and I’ve gotten to be a huge fan. I recently got hooked on Dandy Blend (http://amzn.to/2oWwRrE) which is even more incredibly similar tasting to coffee and is so delicious in the morning or an after dinner treat.

  7. Rachel

    April 13th, 2017 at 6:25 am

    A mediatation before sleep gives me a better sleep, as little as 5 minutes, though 20 is ideal. Sitting up on a pillow in bed, not lying down.

  8. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Do you do this alone or do you have a guided meditation you follow? I’d love to hear more about it Rachel!

  9. Lori

    April 13th, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Incredibly timely, Jen…. Yesterday I was working on four hours sleep, and was talking about how something needed to change 🙂
    I will definitely be using these tips, thank you!

  10. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Oh yeah— 4 hours is not enough. But way to power through the day and decide to make a change. Hope these are helpful and that you have slept more lately!

  11. Margery

    April 13th, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Here are t o other tips that help me to get a solid 7-8 hours of restful sleep every night.

    (1) Avoid alcohol. Alcohol might make you fall asleep quicker, but it disrupts your rhythm of sleep, and you an often find yourself waking in the middle of the night.

    (2) Go toned and get up at about the same time everyday, even on the weekends. This helps your body keep its natural circadian rhythm. I get up at 5:30 weekdays, so I get up around 6 am on weekends. Since I’m the only one in my family who does this, I usually have a nice quiet hour or do to myself, which is a huge bonus.

  12. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Nice ones! I agree on both!

  13. de

    April 13th, 2017 at 7:07 am

    I might have misread what you said, but it said your teeth are brushed by 9pm, giving you an hour to drink tea and watch tv before bed at 10pm. Do you brush again? Does the tea not stain your teeth?

  14. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Yeah, I don’t brush my teeth again. Haha! I have a glass of water after I drink the tea to help rinse, but that’s it. I try not to get out of bed again since I am super relaxed at this point. Sometimes, I do pause the show and brush my teeth halfway through if I forgot to, but that on occasion. i guess I value sleep over bright white teeth? I don’t really know. I’ve never actually thought about it De.

  15. Mary

    April 13th, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Buckwheat pillow. 2 cups coffee only before 9am. All back-lit screen activity (phone, tv, computer, etc) absolutely off at 9pm. Take gentle, fun care of very nice dog. Set world’s best alarm clock: small Mr. Coffee machine on beside table. Prepare with coffee and filtered water and set for 6am. The sound and aroma of my beloved coffee, and my aversion to burnt bitter coffee, is the best alarm clock ever, for me. The few minutes it spends making coffee are the few minutes I need to stretch, wake up, remember what’s on my schedule, and look forward to my coffee being in my mug fresh, hot, and “right away.” I prefer French press method, but having my “coffee alarm clock” help me gently and effectively out of bed is worth the compromise.

  16. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    A fellow buckwheat lover! Yeah Mary!!! And your alarm clock is hilarious. I love it! So you keep it in your bedroom?

  17. Regine

    April 13th, 2017 at 7:20 am

    I started an evening routine or you can also call it wind-down after a busy day.
    Since it is scientifically proven that TV screens emit a light that
    actually mimics sunlight, I try not to watch TV or use any other electronic device for that matter at least one hour before I go to bed.
    I either read, meditate or write in my journal. And I drink what is called “Golden Milk”. It is kind of a tea (caffeine free of course), contains Turmeric, which fights inflammation in your body and helps you go to sleep. There are various recipes for Golden Milk I have found. Some with real milk, some with almond milk….
    My recipe goes something like this:
    1 cup milk (or almond milk)
    1/2 cup water
    I add approx. 1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric
    3 black pepper corns
    1 inch long cinnamon stick
    and a good amount of fresh ground ginger
    slowly heat over low heat and stir occasionally.
    When the mixture is warm, add a caffeine free green tea bag for a short while. Sometimes I forget the tea and like it anyway.
    Pour into a cup add a little honey to taste and enjoy.
    I learned about this recipe or at least one that is very similar from Aviva Romm, a herbalist, midwife and doctor thanks to the internet.
    Sweet dreams!

  18. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    What a great bedtime ritual! I love Turmeric teas and tonics— you can’t go wrong.

  19. Barbara

    April 13th, 2017 at 7:43 am

    I sleep like a baby! Taking an all plant based supplement combo that is non gmo, soy, gluten, nut, dairy and preservative free. I’ve even stopped taking my prescription sleeping pill. It’s made a night and day difference in how I feel each day (with a great clean energy, Dr decreased the dosage of my thyroid med for hypothyroidism, and that’s never happened before since I was diagnosed 28yrs ago….just to name a few of the great benefits) and how wonderful I sleep at night…..simply amazing and I’m so grateful ♥

  20. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Awwww— this is so wonderful Barbara! Love hearing stories of natural healing. Can you share the plant-based sleep supplement?

  21. Teri

    April 13th, 2017 at 7:51 am

    I am usually in bed by 9 following my sleepy time camomile tea, I give my Thanks and Gratitude every night before falling asleep. I also use Plexus Triplex, probiotics, clense and pink drink to flush out all the toxins.

  22. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    What a lovely way to end the day— with thanks and gratitude. I am going to try harder to add that in to mine. I try to end the day with a prayer, but usually I am out once I hit the pillow. I really do fall asleep fast. Thanks for sharing Teri.

  23. Sylvie

    April 13th, 2017 at 8:00 am

    I usually don’t have any caffeine after lunch time. I also take cal/mag supplements at bedtime, a trick a naturopath gave me over 20 years ago. The magnesium helps relax your muscle. If I don’t take it I do not sleep as well.
    I also try to read for 30 minutes. I usually get ready for bed almost at the same time as my kids and once their light is off, by 9 or 9:15 PM, I sit in bed and read for 30 minutes or so, then turn off the light. I know it’s an early bedtime for probably most of you but sleep is one of the most important thing you can give your body. You need to sleep so your body can restore itself so I rarely go pass 10pm or I suffer the next morning.

  24. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    I agree! Sleep is SO important, yet undervalued oftentimes. I forgot about Magnesium! We used to take a magnesium drink when achy from the flu: http://amzn.to/2oQ0hcJ

    I bet it would you sleep every night! I love your routine— as I looove early bedtimes!

  25. Alan

    April 13th, 2017 at 8:00 am

    No problem sleeping here..
    All you need is productive excersize
    You’ll steep like a log.
    Alan

  26. Jen :: Simple Green Smoothies

    April 14th, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Good point! Exercise is a great sleep aid. After a long run, I fall asleep sooooo fast!

  27. ellie

    April 13th, 2017 at 8:19 am

    The time you go to bed isn’t as important as having a consistent bed time and wake up schedule. Its best to stick to it, even on weekends. Also, no napping. Exercise during the day, but not too close to bed time. I don’t drink caffeine after 1200, and stick with a variety of herbal teas throughout the day. It’s best not to have screen time 2 hours before bed, but this one is too difficult for me. However for netflix, a trick setting I learned is to find the user preferences NOT to automatically play the next episode. This has significantly dropped the number of netflix episodes I “accidentally” binge watched, as you have to actually press play on the next one. Also, stopping episodes from middle- to – middle is a way to avoid the producers hook of “AHHH what happens next?!?!” as the middle tends to be slower paced.

  28. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    I didn’t even know there was a way to disable the auto play on Netflix. Thanks for the tip!

  29. Morgan

    April 13th, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Thanks for the tips! I will be trying the tea and earplugs.

  30. SGS Rawkstar Jen

    April 20th, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    You’re welcome Morgan! Let me know how it works for you.

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