Getting the best night’s sleep is something that I’m always working on. I wish I could say that my head hits the pillow, I fall into a deep sleep and wake up rested. The truth is, more often than not I struggle with my sleep routine. Some of this is from “human error” (e.g., me staring at my phone right before bed) and some is just not getting on top of the thoughts running through my head.
This is the year that I’ve gotten the closest to a perfect sleep routine.
ONE // Start Early
You know how people are either early birds or night owls? I’m kind of both. (I’m not a mid-afternoon person, that’s when I’m the most exhausted!) The minute my feet hit the ground in the morning, I’m ready to go! And I do most of my heavy lifting work after dinner. Because of this, though, I can work straight through midnight and into the early morning. Sometimes this comes in handy, but it mostly just disrupts my sleep. When I work too late, I don’t give myself enough time to “separate” myself from work. I go to bed feeling wound up and (unfortunately) stressed. Of course, this is a terrible way to fall asleep!
I try to set deadlines for myself on when I need to be wrapped up with work completely. Right now, the goal is 9 pm, although it looks more like 9:30/9:45 most nights. By setting this deadline, I’m able to give myself plenty of time to decompress, unwind, and gear up for a good night’s sleep.
TWO // Have a Routine
The brain is pretty crazy. It can sense routine. If you get a great routine in place, your brain will pick up on what you’re doing and use those cues to set you up for sleep. I try to do the same thing every single night. While I’m in the last hour of work, I’ll make a cup of tea. I’m obsessed with putting the kettle on and just holding a warm cup of steaming tea; I think I like the ritual of it more than the actual tea, ha. After I finish working, and my cup of tea, I give the dogs their final walk of the day. Once back inside, it’s time for pajamas. I wash my face, put on moisturizer, and brush my teeth. Then I crawl into bed with the dogs, a cup of water, and a book. I swear, when I put the kettle on now, I immediately start to relax… my body just knows we’re almost to the end of the night.
Figure out what’s going to work for you and commit to doing the same thing every night! (Also, I’m not perfect about this. I pretty much only do it Sunday through Thursday night, and it does get messed up if I travel.)
THREE // No screen, read instead!
Reading (a real paper book) is so much better than scrolling through my phone. Even with a book that I love, I can only read for a max of 45 minutes before I start getting really exhausted. So screens are known to be terrible for your eyes/brain, especially at night because of your circadian rhythm (*I think that’s what it is, haha). I also think that scrolling through your phone is bad for sleep because it can stir up a lot of emotion. Maybe you get sucked into videos on Youtube or find yourself feeling FOMO after seeing a friend’s Insta story! I think because I’m tired, but if I’m on social at night, I am way more inclined to feel badly about myself from seeing someone’s awesome IG feed.
Reading is a simple way to escape from everyday thoughts and worries!
FOUR // Meditate
Speaking of thoughts and worries… meditation is something that I’ve been doing DAILY for the better part of the year. (Here’s a post about why I love meditating!) Mediating is way simpler than it seems, yet has huge benefits. Even if you aren’t ready to commit to meditating during the day, I can’t recommend using Headspace to help you fall asleep. The “Sleeping” single is unbelievably good. Almost every time I do it, I fall asleep before the pack ends. I fall into a great sleep right away. And if you wake up in the middle of the night, I also like the “Falling Back to Sleep” single.
The best part of meditating is that it gives you something to focus on. If I don’t meditate, I start to do the to-do listing and stressing instead of sleeping! It’s just nice to put the app on and really tune into your body while you’re shutting everything down and off.
FIVE // Get Into Position
So I have, for my entire life, slept on my stomach without a pillow. I don’t know if it’s getting older (hello 28!) or being sore from working out every day, but sleeping on my stomach isn’t working for me anymore. Well, don’t get me wrong, I feel the best while I’m sleeping that way, but I wake up in the morning with back pain. My trainer encouraged me to sleep in a better position, and it definitely helps. While it’s harder to fall asleep for me because I’m so used to be a stomach-sleeper, I do sleep better and move around less when I’m in the right position. Using three big pillows, I sleep on my side with one under my head, one between my legs, and one folded between my arms like a hug.
I’m always trying to be better about sleep… so I’d love to hear your best tips!