5 Tips for a Better Night Sleep

so, yesterday, i talked about my overall sleep issues – from the little ones that plague me in my own bedroom to the bigger ones that hold me back when traveling – and today, i’m offering up 5 tried and true tips i use to help get me on my way to dreamland. these tips work best for me at home (of course), but they’re also easily adapted to travel. little things such as bringing a pillow spray that reminds you of home, toting your eye pillow from place to place (i’m that girl), and making sure you hunker down with a good book before bedtime can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep. so, without further adieu, sleep tips!

5 tips for a better night's sleep

number one: invest in nice sheets. my personal favorites are these from pottery barn (and i have this duvet). they’re soft as can be (and only get softer over time), they come in crisp white (my favorite for creating a calming space upon which to snooze), and bonus: they’re pretty darn cheap! which means you don’t have to feel guilty about replacing them when the sun yellows them or you accidentally spill food that stains in your bed (what? that’s just me?). if you invest in anything, make it your sheets. there’s nothing like getting into a bed with scratchy sheets (my legs are tingling just thinking about it). your bed should be your oasis, the place where you escape from the world. so make it nice. bonus points for a big fluffy comforter, lots and lots of pillows, and a good mattress (which can make all the difference).

number two: power down. this is probably one of the most important ones. i know we’re all glued to our iphones, and i personally am guilty of checking my instagram feed right before bed, but it’s best for all of us if we just SHUT THAT SHIT OFF. an hour before bedtime, power down. shut off your computer, your phone, your ipad, your nook, your kindle, your TV. anything with a glowing screen should go bye-bye. except the old school kindle, which doesn’t glow at all (!!). hop into bed, or your favorite armchair, or your couch, and grab a book. research shows that the artificial light exposure created by our devices suppresses the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhancing alertness and shifting our circadian rhythms to a later hour. AKA, making it way more difficult to fall asleep.

number three: make it smell good. i’m a huge fan of linen spray, and pretty much anything that makes my life/room/body smell good. so when i stumbled across this pillow spray during a trip to space.NK while in LA earlier this year, i pounced on it. and never turned back. scented with lavender and chamomile, this spray lulls you into dreamland with its calming aromatherapy.

number four: make it dark. really dark. natural light is great for waking up in the morning, but not so great for going to sleep. if you, like me, live in a city, you know that it never REALLY gets dark, what with all the lights of the concrete jungle glowing around you. i’ve been using an eye pillow since middle school, and i kid you not when i say i CANNOT sleep without it. something about the light pressure of the flaxseed, the calming scent of lavender, the cool silk…eye pillows are a godsend. they’re also great for headaches and stress, and can be popped in the microwave/fridge depending on how you’re feeling. i get mine here, in my hometown beauty shop (they’re locally made), but any silk/lavender/flaxseed version will do.

number five: embrace the cold. people sleep better in cold, dark rooms. we’ve already tackled the “dark” part above, so now, we’ve got to tackle the temperature. set your thermostat to 65 or lower, turn on your AC in the summer, open your windows in the winter, invest in a good fan – do whatever you have to do to cool it down. this is a really interesting read from the nytimes on how cooling down your bedroom won’t just help you sleep better, it might even help you lose weight! SCORE. personally, i love the feel of sleeping under a heavy comforter, so i ALWAYS keep it cold (this means i keep my windows open in the dead of winter). there is nothing i love more than the nip of chilly winter air coming through my window at night.

and there you have it: my five tips for falling asleep. other ideas include: exercising daily (this works wonders for me), no coffee after 3pm, and writing down tomorrow’s to-do list before you shut off the light (alleviating all the “omg i have to do this and this and this tomorrow” worries).

now, go on and get some shut eye!

 


happyweekend

{photo}

ah, weekend! i am so, so happy friday is here – mostly because it means that i’m officially on vacation. AHHHHH. that’s my big ass sigh of relief. tomorrow morning, i head to rhode island to spend five days on the beach with my family. a whole lot of ice cream eating, tanning and book-reading (i downloaded THREE new books on my kindle!) is about to begin. then it’s back to new york, where i’ll be hitting up central park summerstage for a gavin degraw concert weds night (haters, hush, i can’t wait), a single full day at work, and out to montauk for more beach time. a good august, indeed.

what do you have planned for this lovely weekend? and ps: where did summer go?!

fuck you. pay me. a great read on freelancing, and gettin’ those benjamins like you deserve.

imagine if the subway was a spa. too good, too funny, and too freaking ON POINT. this stunt was conducted by an improv group, but it’s actually a genius idea for a skincare company looking to make a splash with their out of home advertising.

i cannot get enough of this song lately. sam hunt, you do it so good. those drums in the background, that sweet like molasses voice. if you want me to have your babies, i will.

sometimes i think about where i’ll live when i’m a real grownup. you know, because i don’t think i could raise my kids in the city – i want them to have a real yard and i want a garden and maybe even a garage (gasp!). and because i can’t imagine living in connecticut (eek, so conservative!) or westchester (eek, too moneyed), i tend to imagine myself in the hudson valley. and why not? there’s so much good there.

this story, of two women playing a soccer game to choose which last name they’ll use post marriage is amazing, hilarious and heartwarming.

i’m OBSESSED with this video of the lion king cast surprising a crowded A train with the circle of life. so good, and such an ILOVENY moment. i would seriously shit my pants if this happened to me. that, or cry tears of musical geek happiness.

and, in case you missed it:

a story about anxiety, and trying to sleep + homemade almond vanilla granola 

4d52a1f8b5a66c4c49f6a773bae179e0
so, i’m going to let you in on a little secret: my name is sarah, and i’m a bit of a shitty sleeper. even though i need a LOT of sleep to function (we’re talking like 8 or 9 hours), my sleep in our fair city is disrupted at best, and positively terrible at worst. when i’m home at my parents’ house, i sleep like a baby. no waking up to pee, no sirens shaking me out of my dreams. i can easily spend 10 hours tangled in my sheets, with not a care in the world. now, part of that’s how damn quiet it is in the woods of western massachusetts, and i’m sure an even bigger part of it is the fact that i feel undeniably comfortable and safe in my parents’ home – feelings i’d have to admit i still don’t 100% feel here in new york, even though i’ve called the city home for six years now.

new york has also re-awakened in me an anxiety problem that’s bogged me down in the past. lest you think i’m a total crazy, rest assured: it’s nothing too bad – but because life here moves fast, and my life is a busy one, i inevitably spend nights tossing and turning, my mind like a broken record player, skipping from moment to moment, to-do to must-do. if i’m stressed even just a little bit, i won’t sleep well, or even worse, i’ll barely sleep at all. i find sunday nights particularly tough – something about the impending week ahead takes my anxiety up a notch.

i’m also a terrible sleeper when i travel – so much that my doctor kindly prescribed me ambien, something i take only in the worst of situations – i do much better in my own surroundings, or at least, in places i feel comfortable. see, i have a thing about sheets.

let’s back up. since i was a child, i’ve had sort of an issue with sensory stimulation. ask my parents about dressing me as a little girl, and they’ll tell you i refused to wear anything with buttons, anything too scratchy, anything that came too close to my neck (god forbid you try to put me in a turtleneck). i liked things that were soft, stretchy, and easy to pull on and off. i hated loud sounds (the vacuum cleaner was not my friend), too. and forget trying to get me to eat something with a strange texture (seafood was out). a weird child, right? apparently, this is a real thing. and yes, my doctor parents have “diagnosed” me with it.

as i grew up, i somewhat “grew out of it” – though what that really means is that i learned to adapt. to dress in things i could tolerate, to sleep in my own bed most of the time, to be careful what bedding i brought to camp each summer (shopping for a sleeping bag was NOT my cup of tea, and my grandma’s old army blankets were OUT), and to try new things, food-wise.

story time:

my family loves to tease me about a trip we took to france with my best friend K the summer before our freshman year of high school. during our 2 week of travel, we spent a few nights in a historic hotel built into the rock face of a small, picturesque village in the south of france. the hotel freaked me out. beyond freaked me out. everything was dark and scratchy. the building seemed to shift at night. there were spiders crawling on the walls. the bedding felt damp, dirty. it was quaint, and romantic, and beautiful – but all i could see was how the place was going to eat me alive.

i slept on bath towels for the entirety of our stay. i couldn’t bring myself to let my legs touch the sheets.

because my parents are saints and K loves me despite my quirks, everyone just let me do my thing (albeit with a bit of light teasing).

fast forward to the summer after i graduated college. i’d planned a 2 week eurotrip with my friend alex, who was studying abroad in paris. he was going to take the train down to barcelona; i was set to fly there and meet him. we had an entire itinerary planned out.

on my flight over, i sat in front of 2 tiny children who were totally out of control. they kicked my back the entire way to heathrow. i arrived in london bleary-eyed and ate a shitty airport croissant before hopping on a ryanair flight to barcelona. by the time i arrived in spain, i’d slept not a wink in 24 hours. i was totally crazed, beyond exhausted, and wanted nothing more than to pass out.

we spent the night in an adorable little hostel with the typical set up: our room included a series of bunk beds; alex and i grabbed a pair of bottoms. when night fell, alex promptly fell asleep. i climbed into bed and prayed that sleep would come.

but it didn’t. instead i listened to the man above me smack lips with the woman he’d met not an hour earlier. i listened to the streets of barca whirl by me. and i listened to the whirring of my overtired brain, as it scaled through all the reasons i wouldn’t be able to sleep. the sheets felt like paper against my skin. i felt bugs crawling up and down my legs (not real ones, of course – they were in my head). i listened to alex snoring slightly, his chest rising and falling with each breath. i counted sheep. i counted the tiles on the ceiling. i watched as the bunk above me sagged slightly with the weight of the couple above.

but i did not sleep. around 1am barcelona time, i took my international phone out of my pocket and went out into the street and called my mother.

she answered on the second ring.

“sarah? what’s wrong? what time is it there?”

“IT’S 1AM AND I CAN’T SLEEP AND EVERYONE ELSE IS SLEEPING AND I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING AND I’M SO TIRED AND ALL I WANT TO DO IS SLEEP BUT I CAN’T. ALEX IS SLEEPING, THE ENTIRE HOSTEL IS SLEEPING AND I’M AWAKE.”

i lasted about 10 seconds before bursting into tears. i was the crazy american girl sobbing into her cellphone on a random bench, legs curled beneath her under a streetlight that cast washed out yellow light onto the cobblestoned street.

my poor mother, my wonderful mother – she sat on the phone with me for an hour, as i breathed in and out into the phone while she coached me into relaxation.

“deep breath. in, and out. in, and out. in, and out.”

and then i went back inside.

sometime around 4am, i fell into a fitful sleep. i hadn’t slept in over a day.

the next morning, i awoke totally flipped out. i’d had my first ever panic attack, and my entire body was on edge. i felt like i had hives, like i was vibrating negative energy out onto the streets of barcelona. my body was a live wire. i felt certain i’d collapse or explode at any moment.

i made it three days before i booked a flight home to massachusetts. alex and i didn’t speak for two weeks.

i abandoned him on our journey, on a trip we’d been planning for months, because my anxiety (created by my inability to sleep) got the best of me. when i told alex over lunch that i needed to go home, that my mind was out of whack, he put his head down. and told me he understood. and then promptly told me he needed the afternoon to himself. i didn’t blame him, i couldn’t. i only blamed myself.

since then, i’ve been extremely careful about how i travel. i bring my own sheets, because i know if i sleep in bedding i know, i won’t feel spiders crawling up and down my legs. i know that if i bring my eye pillow, i’ll have a little bit of home with me. i know that if i book nice hotels, i’ll have less of a chance of finding a hair in the bed that’ll set my anxiety off like a firecracker.

did i mention that i LOVE to travel? that i wish, more than anything, that i could be that down ass chick who shacks up in a hostel on the beaches of bali without a care in the world? that i could pack everything i needed for a  2 week trip into a backpack and just head out into the sunshine with no worries at all?

my “sleep issues” – or whatever you want to call them – have held me back more than i’d like to admit. there’s places i haven’t been, trips i haven’t enjoyed, because i’ve been too goddamn anxious and tired to enjoy them.

it’s sad, isn’t it?

so you can imagine that even when i’m home, in my own bed, i still don’t sleep all that well. ever since my panic attack on the streets of barcelona, i’ve become a more anxious person. a person whose blood electrifies her veins just a bit more than the average human. that night was like flipping a switch. i’d never really had anxiety. i’d never had a panic attack. and all of a sudden, i was a person who did, who had.

now, if anything is out of whack, i won’t sleep well. i’ll spend the night ruminating over the things i could have done, should have done, wish i’d done.

which is why i’ve developed a serious system for sleeping. a series of 5 things i do, each and every night, to prepare myself for a good night’s sleep (or, as good of a night of sleep as i’m capable of). i’ll be sharing those here tomorrow, with the hopes that they’ll help some other bad sleepers get some shut eye.

if you’ve made it this far in my miniature novel, kudos to you. now, go get some sleep.

vanilla almond granola with cranberriesoh, granola. granola is one of those foods that makes you think of earthy crunchy healthy people who probably eat paleo and go to yoga at least 4 times a week. i mean, there’s a reason people can be referred to as “granola” people. or, wait. did i just make that up? regardless, you know the sorts of people i mean, don’t you? the folks who wouldn’t dare each a bowl of lucky charms (aka, not me).

anyway, people love granola. i’d go as far as to say that granola is really in right now. top it with berries, eat it with yogurt, eat it with milk, snack on it…no matter how you’re consuming, granola is having a moment. or rather, it has been having a moment for the past few years. i too jumped on the yogurt and granola train a year or so back, eating it regularly for breakfast at my desk. but recently, i happened to take a look at the ingredient breakdown on the back of my supposedly healthy granola, and guess what? that ish was FULL of sugar. and other ingredients i couldn’t pronounce. and that mystified me, because granola is basically just oats and nuts and maybe some oil/sweetener, right? and dried fruit if you’re feeling fancy? so what was up with ingredients i couldn’t pronounce?

NOT COOL, GRANOLA.

so recently on a weekend, when i was sitting at home being lame while others were out having fun and doing the things that so-called normal late twenty-somethings do, i made my own. after doing a bit of googling, it turned out i was right: granola is basically just oats + sweetener + nuts + a lil bit of oil + spices + dried fruit/chocolate. EASY PEASY.

i decided i wanted vanilla granola with dried cranberries and toasted almonds (i’d picked up the latter two ingredients at whole foods recently and needed to use them for something). so i tossed some oats into a bowl with the almonds, then melted down some coconut oil, and mixed it into the oats along with some vanilla extract, some maple sugar for sweetness, and some cinnamon for shits and giggles. and guess what? the results were DELISH.

let’s break it down, shall we?*

*here’s the thing about granola: so long as you coat your oats and add some sweetener, you’re pretty much guaranteed goodness. so don’t worry too much about measuring cups.

VANILLA ALMOND GRANOLA WITH DRIED CRANBERRIES

what you’ll need:

- approximately 2.5 -3 cups of oats

- pinch of salt

- 1/4 cup maple syrup

- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil

- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (pour liberally, folks)

- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- 1/2 cup dried cranberries

what you’ll do:

preheat your oven to 300, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or a silicon baking mat, if you’ve got one).

melt down your coconut oil, and pour it over your oats. toss to mix. add your maple syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon, and toss a bit more. toss in your almonds.

go ahead and do a little taste test if you want. ain’t no raw eggs in here. add some more sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon, etc, if you’d like.

once your granola has passed the taste test, spread them out on the baking sheets you’ve prepared. don’t overload your sheets – a thin layer is what’s going to ensure your granola is cooked evenly.

bake for about 45 minutes, tossing every 15. when done, let your granola cool completely. the air will help to create that crunchiness that granola is known for.

once cool, toss with your dried cranberries – or any dried fruit, really! or even chocolate chips if you’re feeling really crazy – and store in an airtight container. granola should stay fresh for about 3 weeks at room temperature.

HAPPY EATING! i like to eat mine with fresh fruit on top and honey greek yogurt on the bottom, as evidenced here.

 

 

 

happyweekendoh my god, you guys, we made it! it’s FINALLY friday, and amazingly, it’s also august 1st. when did THAT happen? i’m not exactly summer’s biggest fan, but i have to admit, june and july were pretty darn good this year. new york has been mercifully spared the sort of humid, sweaty days we’re usually doled out during the summer months, and instead, we’ve gotten lots of sunshine, plenty of low humidity, and some seriously incredible beach days. i’ve got a really wonderful august coming up, so i can’t really complain that we’re more than halfway through the sunshine season. next weekend, i head to the beautiful beaches of rhode island for a family vacation, and i’ll be gone through wednesday. a nice little break, with lots of ice cream eating and suntanning to be done. then i’m back at work for two days before heading out to montauk for the first time. back to work for another week, and then off to the dirty jerz, where friends and i have rented a gorgeous victorian for a long weekend of debauchery and relaxation in good ol’ asbury park.

and then, just like that, it’ll be labor day, and boom, summer’s basically over. time flies when you’re tan and happy!

on a less jubilant note, i’ve been dealing with some annoying things on the job front (freelance, not day job), and i’ve been trying my very best not to let that ish get me down, and to be the better person, but mostly, i’ve been feeling like this. i’m attempting to remember that money is just money, a job is just a job, and i don’t need either as much as i need respect.

so, now, back to the regularly scheduled programming. here’s some some stuff i liked on the interwebs this week:

on over-scheduling, and the invasion of busy.  louis ck said it best here.

this story of amazing customer service by warby parker made me smile. there are still good eggs out there, and good companies, too.

into the woods is going to be SO.FREAKING.GOOD. christmas day can’t come soon enough.

and, speaking of movies, how excited are we for gone girl?! one of my favorite reads over the past few years. (speaking of reading, check out my summer reading reccos here). the movie poster leaves a bit to be desired, no?

i want to live in this montauk beach house.

misty copeland’s underarmour ad is amazing. seriously, her bod. i can’t even deal! and also, this spot, in general – spots like this are the reason i wanted to work in advertising in the first place.

an interesting read on pushing yourself to the limit – does exercise have to hurt to work? i vote no, personally. or at least, not hurt hurt.

ps: fun things to shop for this week, including perfume that smells like a day at the beach.

what i want this week shopping list

ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE | TEN | ELEVEN | TWELVE | THIRTEEN | FOURTEEN

end of the season shopping, also known as SALE TIME, is my favorite kind of shopping. maybe this is my inner cheapskate coming out, but there’s really nothing like scoring a piece you’ve had your eye on for months at 60% off. the thrill of the hunt, i guess. men have hunting and gathering, we have shopping.

that might be the most superficial statement i’ve ever written. please forgive me.

this week’s shopping list is brought to you by three things: pieces i can bring to mexico, pieces i want in my apartment, and pieces to carry all the little pieces of my life (helllooo, tote bags). seriously, though, santa baby, can you shimmy that bar cart down the chimney to me? i’m sure hanukkah harry would be happy to help. i’ll leave you both some cookies, and some gelt for harry.

happy shopping, and happy august! holy moly, this summer is FLYING by.

summerreading_1

the circle | the vacationers | the fever | tiny beautiful things

up until a few years ago, i was one of those semi snooty people who deemed kindles irrelevant and unnecessary. i’d see people reading them on the beach, or toting them around on the train, and i’d feel like a bit of a literary savant as i lifted my giant 500-page hardcover library book out of my bag.

now, i look back at that girl, and i think, GIRL, WERE YOU SMOKING CRACK i scold myself for being a snot, and for thinking i was above an e-reader, because let me tell you, e-readers are the SHIT. there is something incredibly magical about being able to carry around HUNDREDS of books in the palm of your hand. i mean really, that’s some harry potter style stuff right there, is it not?

do i miss the scent of real books? of course. my kindle smells nothing like a library book (i’ve sniffed it). but the whole i don’t have to carry a heavy hardcover version of the goldfinch around each day thing? it’s kind of wonderful. as a girl who participates in not one but two book clubs, i’m constantly reading – i go through a  book or two a week, depending on length – so i love that my kindle allows me to tote my reads wherever i go, whether it’s sitting on a bench on west broadway while the sun sets or crammed into some guy’s smelly armpit on the 1 train.

as a somewhat unpopular child, i spent many an hour reading by myself in my room (it’s what all the cool kids do, trust), but these days, i’m lucky if i get an hour in bed before lights out to catch up on whatever i’m currently obsessed with. part of the reason i love beach vacations so much is because they’re the perfect excuse to do what my mother calls “gorking out” – aka, sitting on your butt while drinking a cocktail and reading ’til the cows come home. while in nicaragua last december, i made it through three whole novels that had been on my list for far too long. this summer, i’ve already made a hefty dent in my list, and i’ve happily got a beach getaway planned for every single weekend of august. you know what that means: kindle here i come!

above are four of my favorites from what i’ve read over the past 6 months. each book is different, but all have one thing in common: you won’t be able to put them down.

the circle is dave eggers latest, and it caused a whole lot of conflict in my book club. some of us loved it, others hated it, but all of us agreed on one thing: it hit just a little too close to home, especially for those of us who check our instagram feed more often than we’d like to admit. it’s the story of a girl who gets swallowed by social media. say no more.

the vacationers is the perfect beach read. it’s not too lofty, not too fancy, not even too literary – but it’s well-written, funny, and interesting; the story of a somewhat broken family who takes a two week trip to mallorca (you know, as families do when the shit’s hitting the fan). i loved it.

the fever is my latest book; i just finished it the other day. i read megan abbott’s dare me - a darker look at the world of high school cheerleading – a few years ago (WHEN is someone going to pounce on that ish and make it a movie? the PLL crowd would be all up in that grill) and loved it, and was psyched to see that she was the one who’d be taking on the challenge of fictionalizing the tale of the girls of le roy.

tiny beautiful things deserves a special spot on this list, because it’s not just one of my favorite recent reads. it’s one of my favorite things i’ve read, well, ever. cheryl strayed is an emotional genius, an advice giving machine, the sort of woman that every woman should strive to be. i’m kind of obsessed with her, if you can’t tell. this collection of columns, curated from her time spent as advice columnist “sugar” at the rumpus will make you laugh, cry, scream, and smile – maybe all at once.

and, just for fun, a few of my favorite books from last summer:

the love affairs of nathaniel p

where’d you go, bernadette?

gone girl (DUH)

the yonahlossee riding camp for girls

the fault in our stars (double duh)

beautiful ruins

wild (triple duh)

tell the wolves i’m home

the interestings

the paris wife

i could go on and on…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,029 other followers