On Tuesday I shared my personal experience with approaching sleep as a valuable resource, and how prioritizing that resource has ushered in massive changes in how I feel. Today I want to share some specifics of my sleep-centered practices. Tomorrow I will share some of the specific products I use in my nighttime routine.
Nighttime routines are not one-size-fits all, and the most important aspect of any routine is to make sure it works for you. I always like to hear what other people are doing or discover new ideas, but at the end of the day, if an idea isn’t for me, it’s never going to work. With that in mind, I hope some of these ideas inspire you in your sleep journey.
Here are some of my favorite bedtime rituals…
GET READY FOR BED EARLY.
You do not have to wait until bedtime to get ready for bed. I find it very relaxing (when my schedule allows it) to shower and get in pajamas early.
I know, I know. We all love to sit in bed and scroll through Instagram right before we nod off, but the research is undeniable on this topic. Screens mess with your body’s sleep signals. I don’t always follow this guideline, but when I do, I can tell a difference. Save the scrolling for earlier in the day, and make it a point to go screen free at least an hour before you want to fall asleep. Two hours is even better.
Read a book. Write in your journal. Fold laundry. Needlepoint. Find something non-digital to enjoy, and incorporate it into your nightly routine. The act of reading or stitching is like a lullaby for my mind, and it is rare that I am able to stay fully awake after fifteen minutes of either. I like to save it for the last thing I do before I turn out the light, and it lulls me right toward slumber every time.
COLD, DARK, AND QUIET.
Your body is going to get its best sleep when your environment is as cool as possible. The same is true for eliminating sensory distractions such as light and sound. Specifically, I make sure I am wearing pajamas that are loose and light, and I have our ceiling fan at high. I also sleep with earplugs and a sleep mask. If you don’t want to sleep with earplugs, a white noise machine can have the same effect. Using dimmable light bulbs is another wonderful tool in the bedroom for creating an environment of peace and rest for your senses.
REDUCE ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE
I have stopped drinking coffee after noon, and I can tell I feel sleepier faster. Caffeine is an obvious enemy of good sleep, but alcohol messes with your sleep in massive ways as well. If you are serious about making high quality sleep a reality, eliminating or reducing alcohol is a must. I still enjoy a cocktail or a glass of champagne, but not very often. My sleep has improved as a result.
TAKE MAGNESIUM AT NIGHT
I am not a doctor and this is not healthcare, but adding magnesium at night has helped me feel calm and ready for sleep. Specifically, I take a powder that combines three different kinds of magnesium. I swirl it into some water and quickly chug it two hours before bedtime. Magnesium does not dissolve in water, so don’t be alarmed when it sinks to the bottom of your glass. The brand and flavor I use tastes like tart lemonade.
GET NATURAL LIGHT FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
The science behind this is fascinating, but basically, our naked eyes need to be exposed to at least ten minutes of natural light in the morning, preferably before 9:00. No windows. No sunglasses. Just your eyes and the natural morning light. Doing so has many benefits, but most importantly for sleep, it sets your circadian rhythms and actually helps your body feel ready for sleep at the end of the day.
CREATE A WIND-DOWN ROUTINE
The idea here is to choose a pattern of events that you do every night in the same order at roughly the same time. Your brain is going to take notes, creating neural pathways that signal to your body, “When we do these things, it is time for sleep.” My wind-down routine starts by lighting a candle. Then I take my earrings off, and get ready for a shower. After a shower, I do my skincare routine and get in pajamas. Then I get in bed to stitch or read. It’s not complicated, but it is very powerful. When I travel, I can do the same steps in the same order, and just like pavlov’s dog, my body knows what to do.
I hope these ideas are helpful as you develop your own nighttime routine! Tomorrow I will share my favorite sleep-related products!