Nighttime Routine for Better Sleep
My sleep habits have changed significantly over the years. When I was a teenager, my anxiety caused the worst insomnia; I remember one school night when I went to bed at 9pm, worried I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep, and tossed and turned restlessly until 3am. On weekends, I would fight my mom about waking up before noon. That somehow changed in undergrad, where I was the oddball who registered for morning courses on purpose and caught the early train on weekends to commute to my part-time job.
Being a teacher certainly keeps you on the early-to-bed, early-to-rise schedule, so I’ve remained the type of person who falls asleep as soon as her head touches the pillow (or the car seat headrest, or any other somewhat soft surface really). Still, there are times when I lay and count sheep and struggle to get a good night’s rest or a full eight hours. Developing a loose routine has helped condition my mind and body to wind down and ready myself for bed. Here are some of the steps that help!
Drinking a warm (non-caffeinated) beverage before bed settles my stomach and puts me at ease. You could steep a few mint leaves in hot water or pick up peppermint teabags. I'm not a fan of chamomile, but it's a good one for promoting sleep.
I used to swear by morning showers, but with 8pm yoga classes, and especially with this frigid winter we've been having, I've found myself showering at night, and my body has responded well to the change. I also recently came across this article on how night showering regulates your body temperature for sleep.
There are few things better than a fresh set of tightly fitted bedsheets. I'm a bit 'Princess and the Pea' in this way—in between washes, I pull our sheet tightly across our mattress to smooth out any wrinkles and fake that fresh feel. A and I each have a couple pillows, and I love layering soft bedding and blankets. I like to have a few good pajama sets on rotation and don't mind investing as I spend so much time in them. The ones I'm wearing in the photo above aren't an investment, though, and are super cute (they say 'bonjour' and 'bonne nuit' on the collar). You can find them here, here, and here.
appeal to the senses
Olfactory, that is. Pillow sprays are a sort of ridiculous luxury, but I enjoy the ritual of it, and, for me, appealing to my sense of smell is highly effective. My favorite smell is this essential oil by aromatica. Scented body lotions are triply appealing as they have the smell, can be used to massage the body, and care for the skin which is often neglected.
On nights when I'm tossing and turning, I'll pop on my noise-cancelling headphones and listen to relaxing or meditative music and sounds, anything that doesn't get me to think too much, or sometimes nothing at all (just switch on the noise-cancelling feature).
Whether you consciously realize it or not, your physical surroundings do impact your ability to fall and stay asleep. It could be the kitchen light that's still on, the cars passing by outside the window, or the vibrations from each notification on your phone. Switching the light off, closing the blinds or curtains, and silencing your phone and switching on its night mode before getting into bed are little actions that make a big impact.
How do you wind down before bed?
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