Sleep loves consistency. Having a set bedtime and waking time is one of the quickest tickets to a better night’s sleep. But if your schedule is erratic, you can try to create some regularity with a simple pre-sleep routine.
The more you relax all of your senses, the more you’ll convince your reptilian brain that you’re in a protective bubble—and get yourself in the state of mind for deep, stress-free sleep.
Sense of sight
When winding down for the night, bright light interrupts the production of melatonin, the hormone in charge of the regular sleep-wake cycle. Use lights with low wattage or on a dimmer in your bedroom, and use heavy curtains to block any outside light.
Also, try getting off the computer at least an hour before bedtime. But if you simply must answer emails, at least lower your screen’s brightness level. Even if you’re winding down with readings by the Dalai Lama, that goes for backlit e-readers as well.
Sense of touch
Before getting into bed, stretch out any tight muscles, or ask your partner to massage out any tight spots. Once you’re under the covers, find a comfortable position. Use pillows where needed. Take slow, even breaths. Melt into the mattress.
Sense of taste
Even if you drink green or black tea throughout the day, at night it’s time to get herbal. And if you don’t feel like brewing a tea, keep some herbal tinctures bedside. Fill a shot glass with water, add your herbs, and slam it back.
Look for herbs like:
• Holy basil
• Catnip (aerials, tips, or leaf)
• Oatstraw leaf
• Linden flower
• Hawthorn berry
If you’d prefer to go the supplement route, try natural sleep aids GABA, l-tryptophan, or melatonin.
Sense of smell
Drizzle a cotton ball with essential oils and place it near your pillow. Lavender, clary sage, chamomile, and ylang ylang are well-known standbys, but really, just use whatever scent makes you feel happy and relaxed.
Sense of sound
Ambient sounds can be distracting, from pets to street noise to deafening silence. Download a white noise mp3, put it on repeat, and slip off into a sound-masked sleep.
Sense of dread
If after all this, your mind still decides to play a nice game of Worry or Brainstorm, stash a pen and paper next to your bed for any issues or ideas—they’ll be there in the morning for your well-rested brain to tackle. (And keep the note-taking analog, even if you have the world’s best note-taking app.)
If you’re still having issues sleeping, there may be additional life changes needed, like increasing exercise, getting more exposure to sunlight, or adjusting your eating schedule. Consider seeing a wellness specialist if problems persist.
When satisfying your senses, don’t be afraid to get creative. Do whatever you can to reclaim your bed as your peaceful sanctuary and enjoy more well-rested, productive days.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.