After what feels like decades of praise for those who were seemingly able to accomplish everything on their to-do list on 4-5 hours of sleep, it seems the tide is turning in favor of getting a full 8 hours or more! Buoyed by recent reports of highly successful people who prioritize sleep, it’s becoming more acceptable for others to eschew long nights working, bingeing Netflix or flipping mindlessly through social media in favor of a restful and rejuvenating rest.
It’s one thing to decide that sleep is important. But if you’ve been in the habit of a shortened sleep schedule for some time, you’re going to need some tips in your arsenal to help you disconnect from the activity of the day so you can transition to bedtime more easily.
Setting the Stage – Though it’s not universal, most would agree that there’s just something about sliding into the sheets of a bed that’s been made. Even if the bed was only made five minutes earlier, consider taking the time to straighten your sheets and plump your pillows. Another cue you can give yourself is to dress in bedclothes that are only designated for sleep. Using an eye mask may also improve sleep as it will block any ambient light in the room. The temperature of the room also plays a part in how restful sleep may be, so consider setting your thermostat for anywhere between 60 and 66 degrees.
Disconnect – Honestly, this will probably be the toughest step on the list to tackle so we may as well address it first. Chances are, you likely have some level of addiction to your phone. No judgment here – we’re all trying to strike the balance between using our devices for good and being ruled by them.
But when it comes to sleep, the available research is conclusive. Light emitted from our devices is keeping us up at night. An easy tweak to your nightly routine is to set an alarm for 30 minutes before bed, charging it in a different room and going old school by using an actual alarm clock to wake you in the morning.
Give Yourself a Bedtime – I know, you’re an adult; you don’t need a pre-determined bedtime. I felt the same sense of resistance and rebellion when I first considered this tip. As a lifelong night owl, I feel the strongest sense of inspiration and energy in the hours after 9PM. However, I also have a child who has to be at school in the morning so… I’ve come to accept that a bedtime is a necessity in this season of my life. Give it a try! Count backwards 8 hours from the time you absolutely have to wake up and there you have it, your new bedtime.
Treat Yourself Like a Toddler – As long as you’re giving yourself a bedtime, you might consider embracing some of the rituals parents practice when putting their children to bed. Going back to the first tip of setting an alarm to signal bedtime, in the half hour after putting away your phone, you might take a warm bath or shower. Many find that feeling warm and clean before bed puts them in the mood for sleep. Just remember to dim the lights in your bedroom so when you emerge from the bathroom, you send yourself a signal that it’s now time for sleep.
The Final Countdown – Once you’re in bed, resist the urge to retrieve your phone. If you’re still restless, spend a few minutes reading, journaling or meditating until you feel yourself starting to wind down. If worries or concerns are keeping you awake, some find it helpful to create brain dump lists, where you can write down the things that are on your mind. Getting the words onto paper is cathartic and creates a sort of to-do list for the next day. Others have found peace in practicing gratitude, either in a journal or to themselves.
With the addition of some of these suggestions to your nightly routine, you should be snoozing soundly in no time. Sweet dreams!