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Ah, sleep. One of the most basic needs, like eating and breathing. We can’t live without it. But it’s also a sneaky little bastard! Always hiding when you need it most.
I’ve never been a good sleeper. I remember lying in bed for hours as a child; tired, but wide awake. As a teen, I would stay up late because it was easier than trying to fall asleep. In college and working several jobs, my sleep schedule was…random at best. And every morning, I would wake up tired, cranky, and ready to just go back to bed. Only to start the whole cycle over later that night. Sound familiar? If you can relate, keep reading because I’m going to throw some ideas your way!
If you’re not getting good quality sleep on a regular basis, you’ve probably noticed the effects in your life. That fuzzy feeling in your head? Crankiness? Trouble learning new things or lack of concentration? Yep, you’re probably not getting enough good sleep. I’m all too familiar with that feeling of functioning through the fog…and I don’t like it!
Not getting enough sleep can take a toll on every single part of your life. Your health, your mental state, even your relationships, and your job.
So these days, I’m doing things a little differently. Instead of waiting for sleep to find me, I’m using ways to signal to my body that it’s bedtime. And it’s helping…I still don’t ALWAYS get enough sleep, but I’m learning and training my body how to fall asleep quickly (and STAY asleep until morning).
How? Two ways: By creating the right environment for sleep. And by creating cozy night routines. Systems that tell my body “Hey, it’s time to wind down now. Settle in. We’re going to bed!” It takes a little while, but your body WILL start to respond to a routine that signals sleepy-time.
Let’s talk about some basic sleep tips real quick, because I think that creating the right environment is a BIG factor.
You’ve heard this before, I’m sure, but it makes a HUGE difference. Phones, tablets, TV…put ‘em away when you’re getting ready for bed. Blue lights send a signal to your brain that it’s daylight and you should be alert! And active! Try using a phone blocking app – you can schedule them to block those activities you find yourself drawn to when you need to be winding down, like social media…(and…um…reading blog posts…but don’t leave just yet if you need to hear this). If putting the phone away completely before bed isn’t possible in your life, try using a blue-light filter to minimize your exposure.
Bright lights do not equal sleepiness (and they do not feel cozy.) Try turning the lights down or off. Maybe light some candles (real or battery operated, doesn’t matter as long as they’re not bright) or try colored lightbulbs. Dim lighting will signal that it’s night-time and time to wind down. I particularly like my salt lamps at night. Such a nice, warm glow!
There are a few simple things that will make it easier for you to sleep. The scent of lavender encourages sleep, so try using a lavender lotion or diffusing some essential oil. Temperature also helps – a cooler room can help, because our body temperatures naturally fall when we sleep. Cooling down the room where you’ll be sleeping is a GREAT signal to your body that it’s time to turn in. And make sure those sheets are comfy and clean! Trying to settle into scratchy sheets is just maddening.
A steady quiet sound in the background is a fantastic way to block out the rest of the world. It’s doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a fan will work, but there are also multiple white noise generating apps available. I usually pick a good thunderstorm and rain sound, along with this speaker.
Since we all have different lives, here are a few tailored ideas for bedtime routines that I personally use. Try them out, see what fits your life and your schedule. Listen to your body and make adjustments as needed!
This one is self-care goals for me! (Except for the bath part. I DO NOT like baths! But a shower will works for me.) It takes the most time, so don’t feel like you need to make this one happen every single night. If you can, GREAT! But try scheduling in one evening this week to give it a go.
This routine is a little easier to fit in. There’s not too much of a time commitment involved, so this is my personal go-to evening routine.
We all have those crazy days (or long days or just plain exhausting days) when all we want to do is fall into bed at night. But by taking the time to do this quick routine, you’ll fall asleep SO much faster and feel better in the morning knowing you took care of yourself.
Will these routines solve all of your sleep problems? Of course not. There will always be days when sleep just doesn’t want to come for a visit. But having a routine can definitely help train your body to fall asleep faster more often than not.