What’s a good bedtime routine? If you’re a mom that might be a question, you think about for your children, but having a good bedtime routine as an adult is essential to wake-up feeling well rested and energized.
It might surprise you (unless you read my previous blog post on How to Have More Energy in the Morning?) that I had the best sleep of my LIFE when I was in Marine Corps Boot Camp.
It might surprise you (unless you read my previous blog post on How to Have More Energy in the Morning?) that I had the BEST sleep when I was in the Marine Corps.
I guarantee you it wasn’t for the lack of stress. I can promise you that I had PLENTY of that. What I also had was a pretty consistent bedtime routine:
(Well, that was before the yelling and shouting began reminding me that I was definitely in boot camp and NOT summer camp.)
Whether you’ve been in the military, or not we all know that we can benefit from a consistent bedtime routine. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, the nightly routine we had during boot camp was critical for not only our sleep but our ability to perform the next day.
If we were “wired and tired” every day during those three months of boot camp, we’d be pretty dang useless to our Drill Instructors and the Marine Corps.
Guess what? The same applies to you!
If you’re not prioritizing your bedtime routine, you’re going to find yourself always feeling tired and fatigued. Which means you’re not going to be as much use to yourself, your job, OR your family.
That’s why, in this blog post, I’m sharing seven simple tips that will help you improve your bedtime routine to help you sleep and wake up feeling more well rested!
Tip #1: Create a Sleep Sanctuary
I never realized the importance of creating a “sleep sanctuary” until I read Shawn Stevenson’s, Sleep Smarter. That book helped transform the way I think about my bedroom, and I promise it will do the same for you. As I don’t expect you to run to Amazon right now to get the book, let me share the “CliffsNotes” version. You want to create an environment in your bedroom that helps you achieve maximum sleep. That might mean investing in blackout curtains (especially if you work overnight shifts), keeping your work outside of your bedroom, moving your television out of your bedroom, or keeping your room clean. The point is that creating a sleep sanctuary is about creating an environment where you can feel as relaxed as possible before bed. While what is relaxing will look different for everyone, the more distractions you can remove from your room, the better.
Take Action: If you’re struggling with where to start with creating your sleep sanctuary, begin with removing the electronics from your room (unless they’re currently mounted). If you do have mounted electronics set an “electronics curfew” of at least an hour prior to bed all electronics (with the exception of alarm clocks) are not allowed in the bedroom. It’s a tough rule, but it’s one you can keep. I believe in you!
Tip #2: Use Your Bed for Sleep (and Sex)
We're all adults here (and if you aren't this is not the blog for you). Your bed needs to be for two things - sleep and sex. I know that might seem impossible if you're renting a room in someone else's apartment or you're just limited on space. Whatever you're living situation it is vital for your bed not to be the place you watch tv, eat your dinner, and/or do your homework. Instead, designate a space that is not your bed to do these things. That can be an armchair, the floor, or preferably another room. As a past violator of this rule, I know it isn't easy to make the shift. I promise that for the love of all things sleep, you will thank me later when you do.
Take Action: Find a new home for your non-sleep related activities immediately. This is non-negotiable!
Tip #3: Turn Down the Heat
As a relatively new transplant to Boston, I'm still getting used to the Winters and Springs, which is why I tend to keep the thermostat above 68 degrees even in the Spring. However, studies have shown that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, if you like to keep your home toasty, a rule of thumb is to turn down your heat right before. This will not only help you keep the heating bill down (yes for savings), but the color air will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Take Action: About 30-minutes to an hour before bed turn down the thermostat. This way by the time the house cools, you’ll be tucked into bed and (hopefully) fast asleep!
Tip #4: Unplug From Instant Gratification
Unplugging from the world is one of the most challenging things to do, which is why this tip is not something I take lightly. However, the problem with being “plugged in” all day is that we’re constantly receiving a constant stream of instant gratification. From someone liking the meme we shared on Facebook to getting recognized for delivering the ultimate “Clap Back” on Twitter, the gratification we receive when we are awake can keep us from the sleep we need. That’s why, unplugging from all electronics (and yes that includes your Kindle and iPad), at least an hour before bed can help shift our minds to appreciating the now and not just the gratification.
Take Action: Find other ways to entertain yourself by reading a bedtime story to the kids, catching up with your spouse, or even getting in a self-guided yoga session before bed, The possibilities are endless!
Tip #5: Prep For Tomorrow
While you’re taking that time to unplug, you might as well get yourself ready for tomorrow. One of the habits that I developed during the Marine Corps was ironing my uniform and getting my workout clothes (unless I slept in them) ready for the morning. For you, this might be an excellent opportunity to pull out your planner to see what meetings you have scheduled, look at your to-do list to see what needs to get done, or even pack your lunch for tomorrow. Prepping the night before might seem like another thing you have to do at first, but as you build these habits, you'll start waking up feeling more rested knowing you're already a step ahead.
Take Action: If you don’t have much time in the morning, something I like to prep the night before is breakfast. Whether that’s cutting all the ingredients I need for an omelet or creating a smoothie pack I can throw in the blender, a little prep goes a long way!
Tip #6: Meditation and/or Prayer
I’ll be honest, and say that I didn’t appreciate the power of meditation until I started working full-time as an executive assistant. As my brain is always in “problem-solving” mode, I was finding it incredibly difficult to turn my brain off. That’s why I started using the Headspace App, Headspace App, which I highly recommend for anyone needing a little guided approach to meditation. Plus, for extra brownie points, I look to prayer for the days when I just need to "talk it out" with God.
Take Action: If you need a simple way to get started, I like using the “Sleep Timer” function on the iPhone, so I get a gentle reminder that its time to start meditating, praying and getting my butt into bed.
Tip #7: Journal and/or Brain Dump
Last, but certainly not least the most important habit that you can implement before bed is “brain dumping.” Brain dumping is a strategy I learned from my business mentor and coach, Tiffany Lee Bymaster (Coach Glitter). While she talks about it from a business standpoint, it is incredibly applicable to sleep. The idea is to take all the things that are in your head and put them down on paper. Whether that’s the vet appointment you need to schedule, the car insurance that needs to be renewed, or the vacation you need to make time to plan, writing this stuff down gets it out of your head. Plus, when it’s written down, you’re more likely to take action on it. Winning!
Take Action: Head to your local store and grab yourself a notebook (any will do) and start making brain dumping a part of your nightly routine!
There you have it, seven simple tips that will help you sleep better! I know seven might seem like a lot, but the key is NOT to try to apply all of this at once. Just choose ONE tip to implement this week for the next month.
If it’s a habit you want to keep, then move onto implementing another one. If it’s a habit that isn’t serving you, ditch it AND move onto implementing another one. Of course, let us know in the comments which one you’re trying!
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