How is your 'Sleep Hygiene'?
Our Morning Routine actually begins the night before. How we start the day, sets us up for the rest of the day, right? This all actually begins the night before the morning after. Right? Confused? Read on…
A good night’s sleep is essential to a great morning. I’m sure you have experienced a day when you had a terrible night’s sleep and felt like you had candyfloss for a brain, nothing went right, drove through a red light and all you thought of was getting back into your bed at the end of the day!! Been there; got the T-shirt!
So, did you know to get a good night’s sleep you need good 'sleep hygiene'? A strange phrase but it means getting a consistent, helpful, unwinding routine before you go to bed, and doing it every day. Personally, I find this much harder to do than my morning routine, but I know that when I am disciplined with my evenings, it is so much easier to get out of bed the next morning.
Firstly, decide how much sleep feels right for you (most adults need about seven hours of sleep every night). By working out at what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule, considering that it will take 15-30 minutes to actually fall asleep.
Then, consider how long it will take you to ‘wind down’ before bed. Shift your awareness and activity from busy mode to cosy mode, make a milky drink, have a shower or bath, candles and bubbles, or with Epsom Salts, and get into your pjs (my favourite part of the evening!). Which of these wind-down activities appeal to you?
Then, what else is important to you? I like to tidy the kitchen so I come down to an uncluttered space in the morning. You may want to prep your breakfast or packed lunch for the next day. Would it help you to plan out your outfit for the next day? And get everything you’ll need for work / errands ready by the door?
Devoting at least 15 minutes to unwinding before going to bed will help you to fall asleep faster. In addition, it will improve the quality of your sleep. Some things you can try include a quick, sleepy yoga routine, a recorded Yoga Nidra or deep relaxation or some breathing exercises. Lighting a candle and doing a short meditation really helps me, and lying on the floor with feet up on the bed. This posture helps the de-oxygenated blood to get back to the heart and helps tired legs to settle; it also prevents restless-leg syndrome, so a game-changer if you suffer with that at all. (You can also do this if you get restless legs in the night. Get out of bed, wrap up, legs up and over the bed or straight up a wall for 10 minutes, then roll over and back into bed. Magic!)
How about keeping a gratitude journal next to your bed and writing down three things you are grateful for as you think back over the day that’s closing?
Or write down your To-Do list for the next day so that your busy mind can switch off, knowing that you can check it in the morning. I have had nights when my mind is so busy thinking about all the things I mustn’t forget to do, that I have got up, written down the whole list and then been able to get to sleep, exhausted but happy, like I’ve just emptied out my brain onto a piece of paper!
Reading a chapter of a book also helps to switch the brain into a different gear from the busyness of the day.
Ask yourself what do you do that prevents you from getting to sleep or getting a good night’s sleep? Look back at your evening from 6pm onwards and see where you could
make some small changes; think of it as an unwinding process, a
spiralling in ready for a delicious night’s sleep. Remember that
screen-time before bed messes with your circadian rhythms and release of
melatonin - research says we should switch electronic devices off TWO
hours before bed. (Read the science behind that by clicking the link
I have my phone in my bedroom with headphones plugged in so I can
listen to soft music if I can't sleep, but I always set it to airplane
mode, as the EMFs that radiate from mobile phones are thought to be
damaging to your health. (Learn more about EMFs in the link below). And
let's face it, if your phone is on, a part of your brain is also still
on, listening out for the e-mail / text pings.
What you do in the morning after you wake up, and what you do at night before going to bed, are the magical bookends of your day. Build sleep hygiene into your evenings to get ready for a beautiful morning to help you to have the best day, every day. OM Shanti to that!
Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.Mahatma Gandhi
Photo credit: Banner image - Kinga Cichewic