7 Secrets to Your Best Sleep Ever
As the wedding date approaches, all of the odds and ends of planning are starting to pile up on my plate. What song will we dance to? What shoes will I wear? Who will organize the shuttle buses? When I lay my head down for rest, I mull over all of these questions. On top of that, I remember that I have to send back a package to Bloomingdales, that the dishes need a rinse, that the floor is begging for a taste of the bristles on my broom. I envision my weekend plans, what my future might look like; my job, this blog, my family.
Does this thread of never-ending thoughts seem familiar to you? The whole day you're tired and craving a little cat nap. And then, when you do finally lay down, it's too late. Your brain is buzzing and you suddenly have all of the stale energy in the world collectively gathered for a monthly board meeting in your head.
For me, this is all too common and lately, it's really affected how I function during the day. It takes me a long time to fall asleep, and when I do, it's not a deep sleep that rejuvenates me. It feels like I closed my eyes sitting on the bus, and my body is subconsciously awaiting my stop to arrive so I can jolt up. Then I wake up and look at my phone almost immediately. And therein lies the problem.
As a person who is constantly on my phone for one reason or another (sharing blog updates, texting a friend, calling my mom, answering an e-mail, taking a photo) I understand the desire (and often, the fun) of being on your phone. You're a busy person! I know. But when it comes to rest, the best thing you can do for your mind is let it get sleepy naturally, and reap in those benefits.
I've recently revamped my nighttime routine, and I felt the difference within just 2 days. There are 7 steps listed below, but #1 is the most important. Don’t feel overwhelmed, as these are all suggestions. Feel free to start off with 1, or 2, and then optimize your routine as you get more comfortable with it.
1. Disconnect. I moved my phone charger into the living room, and stopped using my phone 30 minutes before bed. I've read some articles that talk about not using your phone for 2 hours before bed, but that seems a bit unrealistic for my life. So when I'm clearing up the plates from dinner, and deciding which pajamas to wear, that's when I rid myself of the device. I check everything I want to check one last time (hi, Instagram) and then turn the phone to night-mode, plug it in to charge, and walk away.
2. Drink tea. I bought this bedtime Yogi tea that I swear makes me drowsy. It's all natural, and has wonderfully relaxing herbs such as passionflower, chamomile and cinnamon that help me fall asleep. The taste of this tea is very sweet, and a bit spicy.
4. Turn the AC down so the room is colder than comfortable. This trick signals bedtime for your brain, because when you fall asleep, your body temperature will decrease. So turning the AC down 1-2 degrees speeds up that process!
5. Read. Preferably a fiction book. I won't yell at you for reading on a kindle, because I've been there, but paperback is preferable. In any case, a fiction book that will help your mind turn off and wander away from the events of day is best. I've just started Crazy Rich Asians.
6. Meditate. For nights when I can't turn my mind off, I listen to the "sleep" meditation available on the headspace app. If you're a member, I highly recommend as Andy's voice is pure, silky, golden magic. If not, here is the gist of the mediation: lay on your back and close your eyes. Go over every part of your day in your head, slowly, recapping each important event. This should take 30-60 seconds. Then, starting from the crown of the head, "shut off" each part of your body. Pretend to turn a switch off on your eyes, your neck, your shoulders, your fingers, and do this until you reach your toes. Hopefully by that time, you'll be sound asleep.
7. Practice. Our mind responds well to habit, so set a routine for yourself, and stick with it. For me, I plug away my phone, make my cup of tea, put on my pajamas, brush my teeth, wash my face, apply my evening beauty products, read my book, sip my tea, pee (lol truth) and then finally, go to sleep. After a week of this routine, by the time I am changing, my body recognizes the pattern, and starts to feel drowsy.