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Sleep and I have a love/hate relationship, which is the main reason I chose to establish a regular sleep schedule as a habit. Because if I don't get my sleep, I'm a grumpy girl — and that doesn't make for a happy marriage, let alone a happy life!
The main problem is, I cannot turn my brain off. It runs constantly, and even though I'm focused on specific projects throughout the day, the minute my head hits the pillow, it's instant go-time thinking about all the things I forgot to get done that day and what I need to add to my list for the next.
In the meantime, I was barely functioning, and so I knew I needed to make a change. I made it my mission to find proven sleep methods that work, and if you struggle falling asleep (and staying asleep) at night too, these 11 tips are ones I've been using over and over again with huge success.
Now that I'm finally finding my nighttime bliss, I can't wait to share how you can too!
1. Start with a Pitch Black Room
I didn't realize light would make such a difference, but even just a sliver coming through the door is enough to make me turn like a rotisserie chicken in my bed.
For those of you that live in a city with streetlights pouring through your windows, I would recommend investing in a pair of black-out curtains to help make the room even darker. And if all else fails, you can always wear a cute eye mask!
2. Limit Screen Time
My sleep improved significantly when I finally put a limit on my screen time. You would think mindless surfing will help relax your brain before bed, but the bright lights of your phone, tablet, and TV, do just the opposite.
Decide on a time for when all devices get turned off or put away, and try to do this at least an hour before you actually go to bed. I shut down my computer and phone fairly consistently at 9:3o pm every night, and it makes a huge difference!
3. Create a Nightly Routine
After that 9:30 pm mark (when I turn all my screens off), is when I start my nightly routine. Here's what it looks like right now:
- Practice Evening Pickup (if I didn't do it earlier in the day)
- Make my to-do list for the next day, and look at iCalendar to see if I have any appointments or activities I need to work around
- Wash my face, brush my teeth, and put on PJ's
- Snuggle in with a good book until it's time for lights out (10:30pm)
Doing the same exact thing every evening before bed, signals to your body that it's time to prepare for sleep, and will start your day on the right foot come morning.
4. Read Before Bed
Speaking of reading before bed, this is an excellent way to help your brain relax and slow down before turning out the lights. Just don't grab anything too exciting or thought provoking! And if you have a hard time putting books away, set a timer so you're not up until 2am.
For those that love to read but never seem to get the chance, take this opportunity to sneak in a few extra chapters every day. You'll work your way through books in no time!
5. Take a Warm Shower or Bath
I mostly take my showers in the morning, but when I'm feeling particularly restless, I'll turn on the hot water and lather on my favorite smelling soap to help me relax and get ready to sleep. It forces me to slow down and just enjoy the moment, rather than think about all the things that still need to be done.
You could also sprinkle some good-smelling bath salts into a hot tub of water, and let the stresses of the day melt away. Don't forget to light a candle!
6. Keep a Notepad Nearby
For nights when I have too many ideas swirling around in my head, I have a handy notepad on my nightstand to help capture those thoughts. It doesn't have to be anything fancy (sometimes I've even been too lazy to turn the light on), however, I would try to avoid using your phone's note taking app for the sake of Point #3.
At first glance, this might seem a little silly, but when my ideas and to-do's are out of my mind and on paper, I don't have to use precious brainpower to try and remember them. And that alone helps me sleep so much better at night!
7. Turn Down the Temperature
I'm cold by nature and love to snuggle under piles of blankets to fall asleep, but if it's too warm in the house, I'm absolutely miserable. We try to keep the AC somewhere between 75-76 degrees, which I know probably sounds too warm for you Northern folks, but is the perfect temp for us Floridians!
Another option is to pop open a window depending on the time of year, or use a fan. Bonus: the extra droning noise might actually help you sleep.
8. Exercise Earlier in the Day
Although I can't say I love to exercise, I do love the mood-boosting benefits I feel afterwards, and I'm sleeping a whole lot better too. A brisk walk around the neighborhood or my favorite Jillian Michael's DVD is enough to get my heart pumping, without the cost of a gym membership.
If you decide to start exercising every day, try to avoid a sweat-inducing workout right before bed, as you might be wired for the next couple hours, and that totally defeats the purpose of sleep. A little yoga is okay.
9. Drink a Warm Glass of Tea
I'm not a huge tea drinker, but a warm mug is sometimes just what I need to wind down from a stressful day. Pick a tea that doesn't have caffeine (chamomile is best), and try to drink it a little bit before you go to bed so you're not up all night in the bathroom.
A classic work-around to tea is a warm glass of milk, but I have yet to try this one since I am adamant that milk only be allowed on my cereal!
10. Listen to Soothing Music or a Podcast
If nothing else works, I'll grab my set of headphones and listen to a specific sleep playlist I have on my phone. The key is to play it super soft so it's just background noise lulling you to sleep. Think soft, classical music, or light contemporary hits. I like to put on soothing worship music because it seems to have just the right tempo.
I'll also put on a podcast if I'm just wanting to listen to people talk for a while.
11. Go to Bed and Wake Up at the Same Time (Even on Weekends!)
You knew this one was coming, right? Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is something I've worked really hard on, and whenever I'm consistent, I see a huge difference in the quality of my sleep.
Your internal body clock (also known as your circadian rhythm) needs to be on a set schedule as much as possible. By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you'll experience a much deeper and restful sleep, which is essential to waking up the next day with renewed energy.
Do you bullet journal? Make improving your sleep habits fun with this sleep tracker, available now from the Brainbook Library!
These 11 tips are (thankfully!) what has finally worked for me after months of restless nights, but now it's time for you to work your way through through this list and try them for yourself. It might be a combination of one of these tips or many, but don't give up! Sleep is absolutely critical for a properly functioning body. Be diligent in giving it the rest and care it needs!
What are your best tips and tricks for a good night's rest?
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