My Bedtime Rituals: Sleep better time
I'm a firm believer that somethings in life are best when you're not talking about them - relationships, health, diet and sleepy time. That being said, most of my friends seem to have struggled with getting a full 8 hours at one time or another. Personally, I'd always been a really deep and easy sleeper until I went on my gap year. I think the combination of a change of scenery, anxiety and depression screwed me over. So, when I started university I made a concerted effort to get back into a night routine to ensure I was well rested.
I'll start with my bedtime ritual then I'll go through five things that could be messing up your circadian rhythm. Full disclosure: I don't necessarily do ALL of these things EVERY night and I even went through a period where I stressed myself out for not doing these perfectly - that really defeats the point. I've written my non-negotiables with the code (nn). So, go easy on yourself and maybe start by incorporating one or two.
10:00 = Hot Shower time: ideally with a good scrub from my Lush Rub Rub Rub.
10:15 = Moisturising: I like to use a my Body Shop body butter and take my time to massage my legs and back thoroughly.
10:30 = Skincare: I keep it pretty simple nowadays, starting with my chamomile makeup remover then Body Shop youth recharge serum, orange flower oil and aloe eye cream. (nn)
10:40 = Essential Oils: Lavender is mine of my choice, I pop a couple drops on my wrists and rub it into my arms and neck making sure to inhale plenty. (nn)
10:45 = Dry my hair
11:00 = Colouring: I light some candles then I have my Undersea colouring book which I like to fill in sitting my legs in a Cobbler's pose (soles of the feet together, legs bent out to the side)
11:15 = Gratitude Journal: I write a few lines about what I'm grateful for, at the moment I've got a French one so it's helping me practice languages as well!
11:20 = Reading: Something positive and light, I'm working through Paulo Coehlo's The Pilgrimage and Gary Chapman's Love languages at the moment.
Right before bed = Blow out the candles, pillow mist, eye-mask on and guided meditation playing across the room. I like to lay on my back with a pillow underneath the back of my knees - one hand on my heart and the other on my belly. Deep breaths are the major key. Dreamy. (nn)
Things to consider if you're struggling to get some shut-eye:
If you aren't familiar with hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world and they also burn the most amount of candles per capita. To set the mood in your own hyggelit (think comfy, cosy, homely) space lighting is key. Invest in some candles they really are so cheap and light them anytime of day, but especially before bed they make any room instantly more relaxing.
Also, I have a routine of shutting down lights. Plenty of lamps are key to pull this off, but I start turning off the mains lights right before bed and then gradually work down to only having my bedside lamp before bed. Give it a go - it lets your body know it's sleepy time.
Another option is buying an eye mask which has really helped me sleep even if there's light from outside or the sun's already risen in the morning.
My bed is my sleep destination - this might sound obvious - but I have so many friends who eat, study and generally chill in their bed all day. I used to whinge at my mom when she told me to make my bed/ not eat chips in it. As I've gotten older I've realised the psychological impact of consecrating one space in your room only for sleep. I try to always make my bed and only pull the covers back right before bed. All these subtle techniques can make the transition into sleep easier for your over-stimulated mind.
The nuclear option here is to give up caffeine altogether, which I've done before. The alternative is to be conscious about routines and when you're drinking. Coffee, in particular, screws up your sleep pattern by disrupting your natural rhythmn. Think back to the original homo sapiens where we would wake up with the sun, have a nap in the afternoon and sleep when it was dark. We humans like to think we're beyond nature by altering these patterns through caffeine, but in reality our bodies can't really handle it.
A simple rule of thumb is trying not to drink caffeine after 2pm (if you start to settle down around 10) because it takes approx. 8 hours for the caffeine to leave your system. Also, by consistently drinking your hot beverages at the same time your body can adapt. So, for example always have your cup of tea when you wake up and not at random intervals throughout the day. At the very least, it's worth seeing if you can cut down on your consumption a little bit because in my experience it's normally the most effective for sleeping better.
Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly sleep better. This is probably for a variety of reasons from decreasing cortisol (stress hormone), physical exhaustion etc. Regardless, the odds are you will sleep deeper and for longer if you throw on some workout clothes and move your body. If you're not ready to throw yourself in head first for whatever reason, try some light stretching before bed. Here's the video I use, which you can do from the comfort of your own bed...
I know, I know you've heard this one before - but it's really important. Blue light from your mobile phone or laptop tricks your brain into thinking it's the day even when it's 2am. Our brains can't handle this overload and it disrupts are ability to sleep properly. If you're not willing to sacrifice your Netflix or Instagram scrolling completely try leaving at least 15 minutes before you sleep for reading, meditating, stretching etc. Anything to give your eyes a bit of a break.
One thing I would definitely recommend is choosing only one electronic. I chose my phone because I can set the light settings to sleep mode and it limits how easy it is to watch videos.
I'm sure incorporating some of these tips into your bedtime routine will help you out and hopefully you'll give some of them a try. As ever I love to hear from you guys, so leave me a comment or drop me an Instagram dm if these have worked for you, if you want some more tips or you have any requests for future posts!
Ps don't forget to join our mailing list to get free PDF guides and a monthly positivity newsletter.
All my love, Sam