Sleep is my love language. Honestly, my favorite parts of the day are getting into my bed at night and waking up in it the next morning. But don’t let that fool you — I’ve spent so much of my life struggling to fall asleep. Anxiety, an overactive imagination and just general restlessness are not a good sleep combo.
I used to spend my life chronically tired, taking hours to fall asleep at night and waking up at least once during my sleep. I also used to be a total night owl, and doing so much activity right before bed undoubtedly contributed to my nighttime restlessness. So I figured I might as well try upgrading my bedtime routine. I honestly didn’t expect it to be of much help, but let me tell you, it did wonders. Here are the steps I take to get a good sleep literally every night. Spoiler alert/fair warning: my bedtime routine takes 2-3 hours, and though that may be a little over the top, it is 100% worth it.
Normalize Your Sleep Schedule
Yes, this isn’t technically part of a bedtime routine, so I’ll get it out of the way quickly. I can’t overstate the importance of waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. Even on my days off, I’m still usually awake by 8am, and only on rare occasions am I out of bed past 10:30. The only exception to this is if I’m sick or if I’ve been going exceptionally hard and can feel that my body needs that extra rest. Also, I never take naps — if I need a midday rest, I opt for a bath or some yin yoga instead.
Soak It Out
Baths. We talk about baths all the time at She’s a Full on Monet, and that’s because we’re all obsessed with them. Bath time really marks the end of my day — the bathtub is where I soak off all the day’s worries. I’ll usually fill up a bath with hot water (I like mine pretty hot, which is bad for your skin but it helps me seriously relax. Pick your battles), epsom salt and/or bubble bath, and I hop in with a big glass of water, a glass of wine, and either the latest book I’m reading or my laptop with whatever Netflix show I’m bingeing. I’ll spend anywhere between 30-60 minutes in the bath, and I get out whenever I feel properly relaxed.
Get My Bedroom Ready
Something crucial I discovered on my journey to finding a better bedtime routine was that I absolutely cannot go from a daytime bedroom to sleep-time bedroom. I need a smoother transition between the two.
My bedroom has to have the right vibes before I can relax in it. For me, this means:
Mood lighting! At night, I turn off my room’s ceiling light and use color-changing LED light strips in my room. They’re super soft and very calming.
Scents. I’ve recently grown to loooove incense, and I have tons of boxes of incense sticks in my room. I’ll usually light a calming scent, or even just a calming scented candle, to get myself in the sleep mood.
Sounds. I always sleep with a ton of white noise — I have a white noise machine and I turn my fan on. I’ll either turn those on right away, or if I want to wait a little longer, I turn on some calming instrumental music.
Clean! My room has to be clean and my bed has to be made every time I get into it. I cannot fall asleep in a messy room or a messy bed!
Yes, we talk about yoga all the time as well, and yes, we’re obsessed with it. And, yes, I do yoga after I take a bath. I’ll usually turn on a yin practice on YouTube, or I’ll just go through some sleep yoga poses. Doing yoga after the bath helps me get the most out of my session — since my muscles are already relaxed, I can get deeper into the poses and stretches. I find hip-opening poses to be the most helpful in my bedtime routine. We hold a lot of emotions and tension in our hips, and I can feel that melt off of me when I do hip stretches.
Remember how I mentioned having anxiety and an overactive imagination? I discovered that in order to process some of what is buzzing around in my brain, I need to give it a break for a bit and let it do some passive healing/recuperating. This means letting my attention focus on something that doesn’t require brainpower. There are so many options here — Netflix, a good, easy-to-read book, even a (quiet, calm) video game, playing easy, calm songs on my piano, or maybe watching ASMR YouTube videos. Whatever you pick, the requirements are these:
Your brain is doing as little work as possible (no writing, no thinking about stressful things, nada!)
If you indulge in written/visual media, it must have a lighthearted or neutral sentiment. This means no horror movies and no crime drama (as much as I love a good true crime doc!). Instead, opt for an episode of The Great British Baking Show or The Office, or watch cool science experiments on YouTube (sounds lame but it really isn’t). I even go so far as to read multiple books at a time — one for during the day and one specifically for before I go to bed.
No blue light! We all know blue light is a big no-no before bedtime. Luckily, most phones nowadays have an option to switch to yellow light at night — utilize that! Many laptops have this option as well, so turn it on for whatever you’re watching.
After my brain has had that break from the day, I find it’s actually way easier to reflect objectively on my day and my emotions. I like journaling because the act of writing my stream of consciousness on a page helps me slow my thoughts down and really, actually process them. What was a buzzing of bees in my head becomes tangible on paper, and is way more easily reflected on then! Most importantly, when I put everything in my journal, I leave it in my journal. That’s my letting-go; once it’s in the journal, it’s not in me, and I can rest easier.
Usually, once I’ve gone through all these steps, my body and mind feel so ready for bed and I can be asleep in a matter of minutes! My quality of life has changed drastically since starting this bedtime routine. I finally start every day feeling genuinely rested, and I no longer have anxiety about getting enough sleep at night.
What does your bedtime routine look like? Let us know in the comments below!
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