I’ll admit, one of my favorite moments of the day is when I get to crawl into bed at night!
At the end of the day, when I curl up under my warm comforter and rest my tired body and turn off my overworked mind, it’s a moment of bliss. Well, it is if I can get my body and mind to be calm. I used to (and occasionally still do) have nights when I would climb into bed and my body was still tight and tense and my brain was still spinning in a million different directions. I realized that I was going to have to do a few things before pulling that comforter over my head if I was actually going to be able to fall asleep… and sleep well.
Through trial and error and adjusting and trying again, I’ve come up with a few things that lighten up my bedtime routine and help to make those last moments of the day blissful ones.
- House Walk Through – Hopefully, at this point in the day, all the other routines I have in place have made it so that there’s not too much out of place. If the boys put all their toys in their homes before dinner and the kitchen was cleaned after dinner, there shouldn’t be too much of a disaster. Still, I’ll take a leisurely walk through the house and pick up anything that’s not in it’s home and put it away. This is when I’ll check the doors and windows and just make sure everything is tucked away for the night.
- Calendar Check – Next I take a look at what’s on the calendar for the next day. I’ll look to see what I’ve planned for dinner and take anything out of the freezer that needs to thaw. I’ll look at the appointments we have and put out any items that need to go with us. Prepping the night before helps makes for less rushing around the next morning.
- Mind Unloading – Remember this post? About how I clear all the clutter out of my mind? I find that if I do this at night, it helps my brain stop spinning more easily, so I can actually fall asleep. I’ll grab my notebook or my phone app and write down any items that are still bouncing around inside my head. I can calendar things that need to be done. I can rest, knowing that all the ideas in my brain are tucked in with paper and pen and I don’t need to think about them again until morning. Or whenever they’re scheduled.
- Body Stretch – With my mind more at rest, it’s time to focus on my body! Sometimes I’ll get on my yoga mat and go through a complete session. Other times I’ll just sit cross-legged on the floor and gently stretch my neck. Depending on what I put my body through that day, I’ll take a few minutes and listen to what it needs to stretch and move. Right now, I’m making sure that every night I am gently stretching my neck and shoulders (because that’s where I tend to hold a lot… or all… of my tension) and I’m doing pelvic tilts to stretch my back and strengthen my core (which still hasn’t gone back together after the twins!) When I take the time to stretch my muscles and let the tension release, it’s much easier to relax into my bed that night. And did I mention breathing? Oh yeah. Deep, calm breathing is my friend.
- Body Temperature – After clearing my mind and relaxing my body, I’ll check in with my temperature. Too hot? Too cold? For me, 9 times out of 10, I’m cold. That’s just how I run. And if I’m cold (particularly my hands or my feet) when I climb in bed, it takes me much longer to fall asleep. So I have warm socks and even (go ahead, laugh if you feel the need) down boots, that I will wear in the evenings to keep the heat in! Sweaters, blankets, etc. are my friends. However you run, take note of bringing your temperature to a comfortable place before you head to bed. On of my favorite ways to help my temperature is…
- A Bath – For me, a hot detox bath is a once a week routine. Usually right smack in the middle of my week on Wednesday night. I run a blissfully hot bath, add 1/2 cup of Epsom salts, and sprinkle in a few drops of whatever essential oil I’m in the mood for that night. I bring a good book and read for a half an hour. For me, it’s the perfect combination of relaxing the body and the mind.
- Water & Food – For sure, after my hot bath, I’ll drink a big glass of water to help re-hydrate. But most nights around 8:00pm I call a halt on eating any more food and I drink a big glass of water. Eating anything after that time tends to just sit in my stomach and keep my body working when I want it to be taking a break for the night. And drinking water that early gives it a chance to work through my system before I go to sleep.
- Electronic Screens – Well, I told you this was still a work in progress… Ideally, it’s best to stop looking at screens (TV, computer, phone, etc.) at least an hour before you go to bed. I’m not there yet, but I’m trying some ideas to help change my habits. My phone has a “night shift” setting on it, where it will change the typical blue light of the phone which is so disruptive to natural sleep patterns, to a dimmer light. I’m using that now, but it’s still my goal to get my phone and computer off by 9:00pm every night. Movie night will be the one screen-time exception!
- Prayer – Last, but absolutely not least, I have an end-of-the-day conversation with God. There is always lots to be grateful for. And lots of things to talk about. What went well and what didn’t. And what I learned. And what we’ll do with tomorrow.
It might look like a lot all written out like this, but really, with the exception of Hot Bath Night, it doesn’t take me that long to go through the routine and really get myself ready for bed. I didn’t mention washing my face and brushing my teeth… but I figure that goes without saying.
And of course it isn’t a perfect fix and there are days when it works much better than others, but it’s definitely better than the opposite! When I take the time to put my space in order, and I’m prepared for the next day, and I’ve calmed down my mind and body, I’m in a much better place when I climb under that comforter.
And it’s a marvelous feeling to climb into that cozy comforter and drift off into a much needed sleep.
What do you do to lighten up your bedtime routine?