Have you ever woken up feeling more tired than you were going to bed?
Your mind racing about emails, projects, and demands that need attending to.
Waking up in the middle of the night, tossing and turning for hours before falling asleep. And within what feels like minutes the alarm goes off and it’s time to start all over again.
When did sleep become such a chore?
This used to be me. Falling asleep was my enemy. Every time I went to bed, it was like playing Russian roulette where the bullet was a good night sleep!
I began to identify as someone who didn’t need much sleep, which put my well-being under duress and had a negative impact on my focus, mood and even relationships.
Although technology has facilitated physical work in many ways, we’re working mentally harder now than ever. Increasing levels of stress and anxiety, making it difficult to power off.
But there is a way to get better sleep, and it starts with an evening routine.
The importance of a good night sleep
Sleep is essential, but you already knew that. The challenge is getting a good night sleep on a regular basis.
But in case you were too tired the last time you heard here’s is a quick refresh on the importance of a good night sleep.
- Wake up feeling refreshed
- Increase in productivity and focus
- Improved mood, leading to better interpersonal relationships
- Can be detrimental to your health
A race to sleep
It wasn’t that long ago that my evening routine consisted of checking e-mails, watching TV and playing games on my I-pad while sitting in bed.
Although none of these things were helping me get a good night sleep. I decided to invest in a good night sleep, by creating an evening routine.
Most of us have some form of evening routine but does it contribute or hinder your ability to sleep?
Anything that encourages thinking, especially overthinking, is an enemy of sleep.
Have you ever tried sleeping when your mind is racing? Something happened during the day, and now you’re replaying all the possibilities in your head.
If you’re falling into this trap, check out last week’s post on exercising your ANTs.
But even positive events can create challenges in falling asleep. Achieving a goal, getting a promotion or going on a date can get your mind churning.
Falling asleep is not a race – it’s actually quite the opposite. If you want to win at sleeping, it’s better to be the tortoise than the hare.
Developing an evening routine
In my experience reserving 30 minutes or more for an evening routine, allows enough time to power down for a good night sleep.
If that’s too much, to begin with, start with 10 or even 5 minutes. Like with any habit, the key is to start.
When creating a routine, your first action will serve as the primer to everything else that follows. Therefore, always start with the same thing.
What makes up your evening routine is less critical than executing it consistently. Each time you complete your routine and end with falling asleep will condition your mind to associate this routine with sleeping.
However, there are some tactics which help generate a good night sleep;
- Avoid blue light emitted from screens
- Meditate or focused breathing
- Design a sleeping environment
- Avoid alcohol, sugar and hard to process foods late at night
Whatever you choose to do, the point is to bring you into a state of relaxation. If reading an exciting thriller keeps you up at night then maybe try a different book.
Apply your routine each night before bed, to begin developing a habit.
The power nap
I couldn’t write about sleeping without mentioning the power nap.
I am a champion for the power nap. There are those that swear by it and others who can’t nap for less than an hour (which is no longer a nap, that is called sleeping).
The key is not to sleep but rather rest for a short period, anywhere from 6-12 minutes can help you feel rejuvenated.
Try it out for yourself. Find a place to close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
For this weeks habit challenge, design a proactive evening routine for a good night sleep.
1. Reserve at least 10 minutes before going to bed.
You can even set an alarm, like me 🙂
2. Choose a specific sequence of actions before bed.
Brush teeth, wash face, journal, read, stretch, meditate, etc.
3. Put the pattern into action for the next 2 weeks.
The more regularly you do it, the more your mind will associate this routine with falling asleep.
Let me know what your evening routine is in the comments!!
And for those who are interested, here’s a quick look at my evening routine:
- No screens 1hr before bed
- Wash face
- Brush teeth
- Put clothes out for the next day
- Read for 30m
- 2-3m focused breathing to power down
It’s simple, easy and it works for me. Although I’ll be working on incorporating some form of journaling before bed over the next few weeks.
Developing an optimal evening routine is your key to a good night sleep.