Things You Can Do If You Have Trouble Getting To Sleep
By Piotr Golinski
An evening routine activates your senses letting your body and brain know that it’s time to go to sleep soon. The reason this is important is because the body is the brain’s tool for experiencing the outside world so when you can signal to it that it’s time for sleep, it’ll start to release relaxing chemicals to make falling asleep and staying asleep much better. With enough consistency, it becomes automatic for you to sleep and get up around the same time daily (making getting up easier too if that’s also a problem area in your life).
Plan It (if that’s your thing)
I know the idea of planning is not exactly the most relaxing thing, but I personally found it helpful to make a small list of things I’d like to do before going to bed. Whether it’s in your head, on your phone or in your notebook, write out a list. Think about the various things that you need to do to make your life easier both before bed and after waking up.
You’ve probably heard it before, but I promise that getting your lunch or breakfast ready and choosing your outfit the night before saves SO MUCH valuable morning time. This is helpful if you find time to be an issue but these kinds of chores also have a domino effect in reducing stress as well as it’s two more little things you don’t need to worry about. Aside from morning activities, keep in mind any evening chores which may include cleaning up messy areas such as a cluttered table or dishes in the sink. If you put on some music, it almost doesn’t even feel like a chore.
If you prefer to shower in the morning, consider changing your routine to just before bed? Get that done as well as other possible hygiene routines like shaving and brushing. If you prefer to keep this as part of your morning ritual then keep it that way. I find that the act of flossing and brushing my teeth first thing in the morning help me to wake up and get past that first 5-10 minutes where it’s oh so tempting to crawl back under the covers. For the evening, a must for me is to have my favourite book ready to go! A little imagining right before sleep sometimes even makes for interesting dreams. These repetitive actions that you do every night signal to your brain that it’s almost time to sleep.
The right beverage elevates any moment (in my opinion) and activates your taste sense. Choose your favourite tea or wine, maybe just water with lemon. Why not a shot of whiskey or lemon vodka? Whatever makes the evening feel special and relaxing. Have this alongside your preferred reading material to make the perfect pairing. If you feel like you’re too awake at this point and don’t find yourself getting tired, you can also try adding things like melatonin or magnesium to your drink which help promote better sleep quality.
Getting ready for bed is all about getting your brain to decrease its activity levels. Stimulate multiple senses to help deactivate your thinking brain. You already have the taste sense covered with the tea. For the others, Light a candle, dim the lights, turn on a diffuser, ask Alexa/Google to play dream sounds and place a hot towel on your face for 15 minutes. If you find your muscles feel a little achy, try some foam rolling. As you actually lay and prepare to fall asleep, you may wish to put a sleeping eye mask over your lids for complete darkness and/or earplugs for a more complete silence.
Stick To It
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. You must repeat the process daily for it to work. The brain is also more likely to be relaxed when it knows exactly what’s going to happen; thus the comfort of a routine. There’s no danger in a well known pattern. You are basically conditioning yourself to fall asleep and conditioning requires time and repetition. Eventually you will fall asleep much more easily and rest more deeply.
If you have trouble sleeping or waking then a bedtime routine may be the answer you need for better sleep quality. If there was one negative side, it would be that once you have your routine set, it becomes hard to stray from that and stay up (if you want to) so beware of becoming an old lady and never being able to pull all nighters again. If that doesn’t deter you, then welcome to the old lady club! Where laying in bed tossing and turning becomes a thing of the past.