Some people love sleep. If they didn't have to get up for work they could probably sleep in until noon easily. One of my best friends is this person. She can hit the pillow, be asleep within ten minutes and sleep well past 10 am. I was always amazed at how quickly she fell asleep and how solid it was. I am not like that at all!
For a long time my sleep was all over the place. In my teens and into my early adulthood, I would have days where I would stay up in my room until three or four in the morning and not because I was at a party or anything but because of my mental health. I am a vivid dreamer which makes nightmares more intense and would get night terrors as well. So basically I would be awake, sitting on my bed until I felt like it was safe enough to go back to sleep. This soon became a habit for the majority of the week. I didn't notice how unhealthy it was to have this sleep pattern until I started dating someone who had a bedtime routine. It was amazing, easy, and gave me the best rest I felt in a long time. Now I have my own nightly routine that I am trying to create and get at least seven to eight full hours of sleep each night unless there is something else planned.
Since sleep is an essential for optimum brain function it comes as no surprise that it also improves our mental health. Here are some of the things I do before bed and if you're already on top of your pillow game there are some practices I want to add for a little mix up:
Time it out
Being mindful of time is a good first step. Setting a time that you have to be up the next day will help you decide when to go to sleep. It's best to aim for about 8 hours of sleep to keep you in a good space and avoid brain fog that comes with over or under-sleeping. I like to be up by about 7-7:30 am as I find it makes me feel the best but each person will have a different wake up time depending on what feels good to them. The bedtime feature on the IPhone is fantastic for this. It lets you set the time you want to wake up and calculates how many hours of sleep you'll get so you don't even have to do math (I'm an artist not a mathematician). It also let's you set a bedtime reminder. I have mine set up to notify me an hour before bedtime so that I have time to unplug and get myself ready.
Get fresh for beauty rest
You definitely do not need to have a whole spa treatment before bed to shed the dirt of the day physically and mentally. However it is really nice to wash your face and apply a nice moisturizer or take extra care when you brush your teeth. I also like the feeling of evening showers if I've been out and about all day, it can be exactly what I need to feel at peace. Some other suggestions could be a face mask, applying a natural lotion to your body or putting coconut oil on your whole self. That's what it's good for right?
Wind it down
This one looks different for a lot of folks. The idea is to find a calming activity that prepares your brain to sloooooow down for the night. It can even be something different every night if you want. I like to take the time to do some reading and write in my journal but I have also coloured, done bedtime yoga or stretching, meditation, and listened to podcasts. I feel like this is also a good time for reflection or any spiritual practices you may have.
Skip the caffeine and sugar
Leave these things for the day time or at the least a couple hours before trying to sleep. Both are known to disrupt a good sleep flow and increase how long it takes you to fall asleep. Drinking some water or a nice herbal tea is a good alternative here and as a bonus, drinking water before bed can help with under eye circles!
For the pro's out there:
Unplugging an hour before
Ok this is one that I am working at constantly. Turning off electronics and screens an hour before bed signals the brain that it is time to shut off and relax. Our world is so full of screens that emit blue light. This light keeps our brains awake and wired which is not useful if you want to maximize your resting hours. When my reminder goes off an hour before bedtime I turn off my computer and try to go screen free for the rest of the night. I have done this completely a couple times and it really does work. I pick up my quiet activity (see Wind it down above) which is most often a book and journal and use that to help keep me from checking my phone. This is not always perfect but it's awesome.
I am not crazy into smells like some people are but I won't lie that there is something soothing about certain essential oils. For myself I like to stick to pure and simple like 100% peppermint but if you are a scent master there are so many blends you can use! I've heard of people putting some lavender essential oil in a diffuser or on their pillow before bed and being calmed by it. There are lots of sleep specific blends you can get from your local natural health food store that you can try out as well. It might be nice to put some in your bath or on a cotton ball in your shower for a relaxing way to wash off the day.
Massage your roots
I know people don't have roots. What I mean is massage your feet! There was a period of time when I practiced this every day for a month or two and man was it ever amazing. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just warm them up and release the tension that has accumulated over the day. If you get really into it maybe look up a reflexology chart and see what parts of your body are connected to certain points in the feet. Bonus points if you have someone you can take turns with. Don't sweat it if you don't, solo is just as good!
I have loved sharing a bit of my nightly routine with you all! What are you adding to get the best sleep yet?
Love and Light,