I used to be a major night owl. I stayed up late every night, which usually meant difficulty waking up the next day. I developed this habit when I was a kid. I think it had to do with the fact that my mom worked the middle shift, which meant she didn’t get home until after midnight. So during the summer, I would convince my dad to let me stay up so I could see her when she got home.
When I was in high school, I worked full-time at Ponderosa. As a result, I had more late nights between work and homework, and I became the kind of person who stayed up late every night. It was who I was.
My late-night habit continued into my early 40s when I started running in the morning. Then, I realized that it was much easier to get up and run if I got a good night’s sleep, so I started hitting the sack much earlier.
But it wasn’t until the last few years when I really discovered the importance of having a solid bedtime routine. It helps me shift gears from whatever happened in my day so that my body and mind know that it’s time to get some quality rest.
Now, I usually head upstairs between 30 and 60 minutes before bed. This might sound like a lot of time, and you may find that you only want to devote 15 or 20 minutes to your bedtime routine.
I’ve found that I sleep better if I limit my time in front of the TV, phone, or tablet. All that blue light can mess with your circadian rhythm and keep you from getting to sleep. So, I like to shut off all my devices at least an hour before bed, if not more.
I do the basics that most people do, such as brush and floss my teeth.
I also like to take a few minutes to sit on the side of the tub to give myself a foot massage. I’ll start at the top of my head and give myself a full-body massage if I have time. Starting at your head and going toward your feet can help ground your energy, perfect for getting ready to sleep.
I use oil for my self-massage most nights. I usually use sesame oil, although coconut oil can be nice and cooling during the summer (or if you’re prone to hot flashes). If you want, you can add a couple of drops of the essential oil of your choice. For example, I like to use sandalwood or lavender. When I use oil, I put on socks and older pj’s, so my sheets don’t get too oily.
I also put a light layer of jojoba oil on my face instead of using a moisturizer. I’ve gotten away from using lotions and creams because they tend to have additives that I don’t want to put in or on my body.
Next, I sit in bed and get ready to write in my gratitude journal. I write about at least three things that I’m grateful for in my day. I write about the big stuff, but mostly I write about the little things we sometimes take for granted.
Then I read. I have a big stack of books next to my bed. I used to read a lot of fiction, but now I mostly read books that inspire me. For example, I like to read about running, yoga, and mindset.
I used to have a habit of reading news or email before bed, but I’ve found that both of those can stress me out. So, I limit those two things to earlier in the day. Instead, I prefer to read something motivating and uplifting before bed. It puts those higher thoughts in my subconscious, making for a better night’s sleep than reading about negativity.
Finally, I meditate. I may listen to a guided meditation, but lately, I prefer focusing on my breath and the sounds around me. This last step almost always ensures a good night’s sleep for me. But if I find myself having a rough time, I might do a body scan. I start at the top of my body and slowly work my way down to my feet. I pay attention to any sensations in my body and invite a sense of relaxation to each body part.
This is how I wrap up most of my days. Even if it’s a busy day, I make sure to get most of this done. Of course, I might read for less time or shorten my foot massage, but having this evening routine has become pretty much non-negotiable for me.
You might find that some other combination works better for you. Pick and choose and add your options:
- Shut off your devices one to three hours before bed. Better yet, put your phone to bed in another room, so you don’t get tempted to reach for it if you have difficulty sleeping.
- Go for a short walk.
- Practice yoga (pick a pose such as legs up the wall or do a few restorative poses).
- Take a shower or bath.
- Give yourself a massage with or without oils.
- Read something inspirational.
- Practice gratitude either by writing it down or silently giving thanks.
- Journal – Write down what went well in your day. Also, write the things you need to do tomorrow. Writing down these tasks is helpful by getting them out of your mind and on paper. This reminds you of your successes today and sets an intention for tomorrow.
- Focus on your breathing. Use practices such as equal ratio or alternate nostril breathing.
- Meditate, listen to a guided meditation or sit in silence.
It doesn’t matter what you choose. Start small and layer on, but only if it feels nourishing to you.
The important thing is finding a routine that feels soothing, and it tells your body and mind that it’s time to transition to rest mode. Sweet dreams!
PS Whenever you’re ready… Here are 4 ways I can help you make the shift from settling for the results you’re currently getting to thriving in life.
- Get my free Start the Day Right Tip Sheet. It contains 5 of my favorite tips to start your day with intention.
- Join other like-minded people who are taking control of their health in my Peace Run Yoga Facebook Group! Allow us to be a place to share ideas, get advice, and meet others who are on a health journey.
- Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the holidays on the way? Then, join me for Finding Balance at the Holidays – November 17th.
- Work with me ONE-ON-ONE to step off the health rollercoaster. Send me an email and drop the word “COACHING” in the subject line… tell me a little about your current health and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details!