When I wake up in the morning after a really good night’s sleep, I know my day will be great! I feel fully rested and the thought of a cup of coffee seems more optional rather than necessary. I feel like I can accomplish anything.
How can we wake up this way every morning? I have tried different approaches towards getting deep sleep without needing a prescription of course. My secret, or what works for me, is taking the time each night to wind down. It is simple really. And even though I know what works for me, I am sometimes so tired that I just want to climb in bed, or I decide to watch a movie while falling asleep. Then, halfway into the night I am tossing and turning, regretting that I didn’t follow my nighttime ritual.
When my kids were small it was easy to follow a bedtime routine. After dinner, my kids would play until a certain time. Then it was time to pick up their toys and get ready for the next day. After that they had their baths, put pj’s on, and brushed their teeth. We would pick up their rooms and choose some books to read together. Every night it was the same, so every night they knew what to expect. When it was time to turn out the light, they were ready to sleep.
This routine worked well for our family for many years and it got me thinking. Why not do the same thing for me? We have our morning routines to help us get ready for our day but few of us create a nighttime routine to help us get ready for sleep. After a busy day it is sometimes hard to shut our thoughts off, but by creating this sort of nighttime routine, we can help our minds prepare for sleep.
There are three parts to my evening wind down ritual that are very similar to the routine I did with my kids. The first part is what I call - Next Day Prep. Think about what is on your mind at night. Most people are thinking about the next day demands such as meals, what to wear, what appointments are scheduled. For this reason, I like to do “next day prep” as the first part of my nighttime routine.
- Meal prep for breakfast, lunch, dinner for tomorrow. Chop and prepare as much as you can for tomorrow’s meals. Thirty minutes of effort tonight will greatly reduce the stress of food prep the next day. You can prepare lunches and take food out of the freezer.
- Layout your clothes. Choose your outfits at night so getting ready in the morning is easy. If you go to the gym in the morning, set your workout clothes out or maybe you need to pack a gym bag. I like to put my clothes in the bathroom so I can get in the shower and everything is there for me to get dressed.
- Write down tomorrow’s to-do list. Having your day planned out in advance will save you so much time in the morning. You will already be prepared to hit the day running.
The second part is Get Ready for Bed. These are the things you know you will do with or without any sort of routine like brushing your teeth, washing your face, and putting on pj’s. Relaxing in a warm, bubble bath may sometimes be part of this time.
The third part is Quiet Time. Allow yourself at least thirty minutes of quiet before going to sleep. This means no cell phone, or ipad, or tv. It does take some restraint to unplug before hitting the pillow, but you will notice a big difference in your sleep. During your quiet time, you can choose what you like to do to wind down. Some nights I journal. Other nights I might do ten minutes of yoga stretching and then meditate. Some nights I read. When I am ready to turn out the light, I play a meditative app which lulls me to sleep.
You owe it to yourself to enjoy a deep sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. It is simple, just three parts to a winding down nighttime routine -- next day prep, get ready for bed, and quiet time. Get ready for a really deep sleep!
Featured photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash.