We live in a time where we are constantly on the go—from work to school, relationships, and kids, etc. A harsh reality is that most of us tend to sacrifice our sleep to maximize our day; we usually don’t get quality sleep or not enough at all (I am personally guilty of the latter).
No matter which of these you identify with, how you fall asleep is almost as important as getting enough of it.
Now, I am not here to tell you to get your 8 hours of sleep in because we are all different. Some may need 6 hours, some may need 10 hours.
Instead, let’s talk about how to slow down before you jump in bed, only to toss and turn for hours.
You’ve probably heard that it’s important to step away from the screens an hour before bed. TV, tablet, phone – all of it. But if you’re anything like me, you have a terrible time accomplishing this for more than 20 minutes.
If you stimulate yourself in other ways, however, leaving your devices alone before you slumber might not be as hard as it sounds. Here are my favorite ways to wind down before bed:
I *love* reading; there’s nothing like losing yourself in a good book. I know not everyone is the biggest fan of physical copies, so getting away from the screen may not be the easiest to accomplish here, but there are apps for your computer to lower your screen’s brightness as the night progresses (to emit less blue light.)
If you’re not a fan of reading, try something like a puzzle or an adult coloring book to help cut down on your screen time.
I hope this one isn’t too much of a stretch, but yoga is a great way to wind down before bed (corny pun intended).
I used to do yoga twice a week at work, but I recently stumbled across the YouTube channel “Yoga With Adriene” and she has yoga for literally everything. (She has a 7 minute routine for bedtime that has helped knock me out a few times.)
Don’t worry if you’re not flexible—there’s nothing strenuous about the routine at all (you don’t need a yoga mat or Lululemon gear to do it, either). If you wind down with a relaxing shower and get in some comfortable pajamas, this video will help put you in a perfect, relaxed state for sleep.
Another source of breathing and clearing your mind is meditation; you can make it a separate session, or meditate into sleep. There are tons of meditation playlists (guided with words, music, and more) also on YouTube, apps you can download, or you can simply recite affirmations or list all the things you’re grateful for. Think of this as the new-age version of counting sheep.
This is very open-ended for a reason. It can be in addition to the steps above, or by itself.
When I think of “easing” to bed, it’s the ultimate form of winding down. It’s the relaxing shower I mentioned before, lighting my favorite scented candle, putting on calming music.
To me, all of these things make for the perfect way to head to bed.
If this is the only one you get around to, that’s ok! If you need to watch tv before bed, make sure it’s not a crime or scary show, etc. (#SayNoToNightmares).
Another thing I’ve tried is setting a time to stop being on my phone altogether—no texts, no social media.
This one is super hard to achieve, so you can start with one then graduate to both. If you just start with “no texts” and need to do some mindless scrolling on your phone, don’t pick an app with toxicity that may get your mind riled up and racing (looking at you, @Twitter).
We may not think aimlessly scrolling past these things has an effect on us, but it does. Do your best to disconnect from the negativity in any form you can before you take your rest.
If you aren’t satisfied with your current routine, we urge to to try these suggestions, and see how your quality of rest improves. No matter how much of it we get, our sleep is important and necessary; let’s try to make the best of the hours we get.