When I was about eleven years old I started finding myself laying in bed staring at the ceiling for half the night, dreading that I wasn’t getting enough sleep.
My mom, and my grandmother before her, both struggled with insomnia and I thought, well, this is my lot, better get used to it.
I continued to struggle with not getting enough sleep at night throughout my life, and finally one day, I decided that there were probably things I should try before completely giving into this generational curse. Staying up to draw and listen to music just energized me more, so I had to turn to other methods.
Balance between sleeping habits and not having electronics in the bedroom, I realized one day that I was falling asleep faster and staying asleep. What changed?
Over time I accumulated different habits that have completely changed my sleep life. It’s more of a rarity when I am up at night counting sheep, although it can still happen with periods of stress or anxiety, but overall the new habits have been a game changer.
Things I practice for better sleep:
Stick to a bedtime routine.
This helps my body know it’s time to relax and start getting ready for bed. Your body’s natural clock performs best and most reliably when it has a routine to stick to, according to plenty of studies and test groups.
Keeping a beauty routine has proven to be a big part of my relaxation as well. Washing my face and pampering myself just a little bit every night helps me to start feeling relaxed for bed, reserving a little me-time at the end of each day gives me a moment to look forward to. Sometimes this includes a face mask, a bath, and putting socks on over clean and moisturized feet—whatever you do, keep it consistent and enjoyable, don’t make more work for yourself before bed.
Set a cut-off time.
No thought-provoking interaction with electronic devices 30 minutes to an hour before bed. This includes texting, email, house hunting, etc. Unwinding before going to sleep is important, bringing all the stress and to-dos from the day into your bed creates an environment that doesn’t give your brain an opportunity for a break.
Dim the lights.
Adjust the lighting in your home in the late evening. I turn off all the major, overhead lights and turn on only accent lights. It’s well-documented that exposure to light is what keeps our internal clocks on the right rhythm, lowering your home’s lighting in the evenings helps prepare your body for better sleep.
This goes for devices, too. When using a device for reading, adjust the lighting to a low-light setting. Some devices have this built in to help your brain adjust to the lower light, and newer phones even have a night-shift option so the light goes from cold blue to warm amber, preventing you from losing sleep due to late-night browsing.
In my bedroom, I have an AC unit and air purifier that have annoying little indicator lights. I was finding that they were also keeping me up, so I’ve covered them with stickers to eliminate the colorful distractions. If you do this, keep in mind when your filters need changed, or set a reminder so you don’t forget!
I don’t have a computer or television in my bedroom, so when it’s time to sleep, there isn’t a distraction in terms of light, noise, or association to work. According to a recent study by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard, getting better sleep is heavily tied to breaking the habit of working from your bedroom. Separating your spaces helps you set healthy boundaries and mentally unwind.
Once I’m in bed, I don’t check my phone again. The phone light at night could really ruin everything I’ve just worked so hard for, as well as potentially cause me to inadvertently browse social media. It can be a hard habit to break, but your sleep will benefit greatly from putting in the work.
Set the mood
I like to make sure my sheets are just right on the bed. Having sheets that are tucked in and folded nicely makes me feel like I’m able to enjoy a little luxury before drifting off. I also turn on my essential oil diffuser with a blend of lavender, grapefruit, sage, and a drop of patchouli. Creating the most relaxing, almost spa-like environment as possible is a way to treat myself any night and drift off easily.
Practicing a routine and limiting electronics before bed have really improved my sleep life. Outside of these practical things I’ve picked up along the way, I’ve also learned to become more accepting of each and every day. When the day is coming to an end, I have to know I’ve done all I can do that day and accept where it’s left off. If something is still meant to be done, tomorrow will remind me.
Bedtime is not a time to solve anything.
It’s a time to become refreshed so that you can do a better job tomorrow. So let it go, just for those few hours, and yeah, instagram can wait till tomorrow, too.