Many of us have heard about the importance of establishing a morning routine in order to boost productivity and kick-start creativity. We know that it is good to find those things that help us best launch into the day ahead, but once we’re off and going, it’s easy zoom through the entire day at lightning speed until our heads hit the pillow at night.
We’ve flown through the day and feel utterly exhausted. So, why do we have so much trouble falling or staying asleep?
Unless you have a medical condition such as insomnia or sleep apnea (in which case you should consult a medical professional), your sleeping troubles may be easily preventable. By simply formulating a nighttime routine, you can help yourself achieve better, deeper sleep so that you can have more energy and an alert mind for the day ahead.
Here are a few good habits to try when it’s time to turn out the lights:
Set a Healthy Work/Life Balance
According to the CDC, “Sleep insufficiency may be caused by broad scale societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules…”
If you are finding it hard to detach yourself from your work calls or emails, give yourself a daily deadline. For example, let your colleagues or clients know that you turn your email notifications off at 8pm and will respond to any late emails first thing in the morning. While this isn’t always possible in every season of life, do the best you can to respect your time for life outside of work.
Spend evenings hanging out with your family, talking with friends around the table, calling your college roommates, or taking time for yourself. When you’re not constantly bound to your phone and the *ping* of every email, your mind will feel more calm and ready for rest.
Determine Priorities For Tomorrow
Before you wind down, think of the three most important things you need to accomplish or take part in tomorrow. Write them down in your planner or make a note on your calendar app. This practice will enable your brain to relax knowing what it needs to be ready for tomorrow, and will help you wake with a clear sense of the day’s plan.
…think through your day and find the good. Your mind will quiet and you will rest content.
Write a Gratitude List
It is far too easy to crawl into bed in a mental state of worry and chaos. Racing thoughts, anxieties, fears, and unsolved problems can prevent us from quickly slipping into slumber. Keep a journal or notepad by your bed and write down a few things you are thankful for at the end of the day — a cozy bed to sleep in, a roof over your head, a nice date, a smile from a stranger — think through your day and find the good. Your mind will quiet and you will rest content.
Prep Your Body
Find a few things you can do nightly that will calm and relax your body. Turn off your electronics at least a half hour before bed. Do some gentle stretching or yoga. Take a hot bath. Read. Write in a journal. Drink some herbal tea. Whatever works for you, do it habitually. Your body will embrace the rhythm, taking the cues that it’s time to calm down and go to sleep.
Prep Your Space
Your bedroom should be your personal oasis used only for sleeping and intimate activities. There are enough screens everywhere else; designate your bedroom as tech-free. Studies have shown that the blue light emitted from screens can disrupt our ability to have restful sleep. In addition, the blinking colored lights coming from your “sleeping” electronics can also cause problems. Make sure your room is as dark as possible. The small investment in some window curtains will be well worth it! And, if possible, keep your bedroom on the cooler side.
This is just a basic list of suggestions. It’s important to find what works for YOU. Experiment with different rhythms and habits until your sleeping has noticeably improved – and then hold onto those habits for life!
What nighttime routines have helped you achieve more restful sleep?
Image via Stephanie Dimiskovski