When I was a young twenty-something living in a city, I could eat/drink/do pretty much anything and stay up as late as I wanted and still wake up looking and feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to conquer the day.
Now that I am nearing thirty, that is no longer the case. I can still stay up (kind of) late (does 10 P.M. count?), and I can still (kind of) eat and drink what I please (except anything spicy, acidic, or with alcohol in it), and wake up, put myself together, and still kick butt. That being said, I’ve come to realize doing certain things at night help me sleep better and wake up feeling almost 20 again.
Here are some of the things I do at night that help my mind and body recharge overnight, so that I wake up feeling 100% rested (or as close to it as possible)!
Stop eating/drinking at least 3 hours before bedtime. I read this on an NPR article awhile back and, honestly, I did not believe that eating or drinking (other than water) had any effect on my sleep. Well, I was wrong. Eating dinner earlier and letting my food digest has helped me fall asleep faster and, even better, stay asleep. It also prevents any unexpected heart burn or indigestion keeping me up/waking me up! I try to stick to this rule as much as I can, which sometimes necessitates a little later bed time (for instance, if I don’t get home until 7 P.M., I might not eat until 8 P.M., which means I try to stay up until about 11 P.M.), but it does work!
Shower/bathe before bed. I know some of you are thinking, But, I take a shower in the morning to wake up!? Don’t worry, I’m the same way. I take a shower in the morning to help me start my day, and then I take a shower at night to essentially soothe my body to sleep. While I would not suggest shampooing or doing a full-body scrub both night and day, I do suggest the two-a-day showers. For me, I use my morning shower to essentially just wake myself up – it’s quick, doesn’t involve shampooing, lathering, or repeating, and really just requires some quick soap and a face wash. But, at night, I take my time and do the full shower routine. Then, I take a good 10 minutes to just stand in the hot water and let the day’s stress/worries wash off of me – literally and figuratively – before getting out. This will make you feel 100% ready to cozy up in your bed and relax the rest of the night. *Even better if you have time for a soak in the tub, preferably with some bath salts, body oils, and some candlelight!
Turn off all electronics at least 1 hour before bed. This was probably the hardest thing for me to do. Like any millennial, my iPhone and my iPad are, admittedly, an extension of my body. I try to be mindful about this, by making sure not to bring my phone to the dinner table and not checking it constantly when spending time with friends and family, but as soon as I’m alone in the house my phone is generally attached to my body – or at least within 6 inches of it. I used to bring my phone into bed with me and stay up way later than planned on Instagram, Facebook, Fruit Ninja, Wikipedia, which in turn caused me to actually become more awake the longer I stared at my screen. Now, I actually charge my phone across the room – and leave it there!! – and I turn it on “Do Not Disturb” mode before getting into bed. This has helped me fall asleep so much faster, AND I don’t get woken up by friends who can still stay up past 10 P.M. And, in a drastic move, a few months ago I removed my TV from my bedroom and put it in the guest room, where it will stay forever. Julie-1, electronics-0.
Don’t get into your bed until you are actually ready to wind down. I used to be that person who would come home, eat dinner, do a few things around the house, maybe pay some bills, shower, and then get in bed to watch TV. I would then proceed to watch about 1.5-2 hours of TV each night before bed. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was seriously screwing up my bedtime routine and making it very difficult for me to fall asleep. Not only was the stimulation from the TV waking my brain up, but physically I could not get comfortable in bed once I turned the TV off. As a result, it often took me 2 hours to fall asleep, which is frankly just bonkers! Laying in that horizontal, supine position for too long while craning my neck made my body stiff, cramped, or worse… restless! I find it better to stay on the couch or a comfortable chair until I’m really ready to fall asleep. At most, I might prop myself upright and read a couple chapters of a book in bed before laying down to close my eyes. Ever since I have started doing this, I have no trouble falling right to sleep!
So there you have it. If you have trouble getting/staying to sleep, try one/all of these tips and maybe it/they will work for you, too!