When people come to me with problems getting quality sleep, I often suggest creating a bedtime routine as the first place to start. The reaction is usually, “what? I’m not a kid!” Hang on, hear me out! You’ve just spent 18+ hours working, playing, eating, solving problems, fiddling on your phone, and actively using your brain. Even if you’re just relaxing and watching Netflix or on your phone close to bedtime, your brain is being stimulated. Plus, if you’re tech-ing it up all the way until you go to bed, you’re exposing yourself to lots of blue light which lessens your body’s ability to produce melatonin - the hormone that helps you get to sleep.
Having a bedtime routine is an essential form of self care. You’re letting your body know it is allowed to slow down and prepare for rest. So what does an adult bedtime routine look like? Here’s the good news, it’s whatever YOU find relaxing.
A few ground-rules:
Set your phone down and put it in another room for an hour before bedtime. It’s too engaging and tempting. Whatever is on your phone can wait until tomorrow!
Plan to start your bedtime routine around the same time each night. This will help train your brain that it’s time to sleep.
Experiment! Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Step 1: Set up your sleep space
The best sleep comes in a cool and dark room, with clean linens and not a lot of noise. You can take your sleep game to a new level by diffusing essentials oils or using a room spray. My favorite sleep enhancing oil is lavender, but you can also give roman chamomile or ylang ylang a try. Keep the phone out of the bedroom! Get an old-school alarm clock instead of using your phone to wake you up in the morning.
Step 2: Prepare yourself for sleep
There are lots of things you can do to set yourself up for sleep. I recommend starting this process between 20-45 minutes before you actually want to fall asleep. Lower the lights in your surroundings to create a calm environment. A few ideas for your routine are below. Note that things that qualify as “screen time” aren’t included (late night TV watchers, sorry!)
drink a glass or warm tea or milk - just not too much so you have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom!
read a book
take a warm shower
listen to relaxing music
listen to an audio book or podcast
do a brain dump of all the things you want to do tomorrow
write in a journal
do a visualization - visualize your ideal day
Bedtime hygiene - wash your face/brush your teeth
Step 3: Go to sleep!
When you’re ready to fall asleep, it’s time to turn off the lights and get into bed. If you’re still struggling to fall asleep, I recommend doing a guided body scan meditation. You can find a good walkthrough on YouTube. It’s a great way to relax your muscles at the end of the day. Sweet dreams!
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