Anyone else a fan of sleep like I am? Despite really enjoying sleep and rest, for years it has been difficult to get to sleep at an early and reasonable time. Growing up, in school, I would stay up studying for exams into the early morning thinking that was my most productive time. The house was quiet and there were minimal distractions. Then, as an adult working in the corporate world, there were always work deadlines to meet, or sometimes I would just feel like I didn’t have enough hours in the day, so night time would be the only time I could fit in “catching up”. Night time seemed like the best time to get everything done in life. Except night time is when our bodies and minds should be resting.
It wasn’t until last year when I started to really implement getting the appropriate number of hours of sleep as one of my top priorities. I used to average around 5-6 hours of sleep each night. However, after a few nights of minimal sleep, it all starts to catch up to your body. Sleep doesn’t just make us feel rested. Sleep is when our bodies heal and repair; and being sleep deficient affects our weight, metabolism, organ function and brain activity. With the lack of sleep, I was developing more stomach pains and chronic blurred vision. Not to mention, late last year I was diagnosed with cancer. With all of these health issues, it was time to really take control of my body and my future. Lack of sleep didn’t necessarily cause my health to deteriorate but it didn’t really help my health thrive.
As someone who regularly went to sleep at 1-2am and wakes up at around 7am, I knew I needed to make some changes. Now my normal bed time is between 10-10:30pm and I wake up on my own around 6-6:30am. That’s a full 8 hours of sleep each night! I really wanted to share some of the ways I have adopted a new sleep schedule so we can all start to get our 8 hours of healthy sleep! We have one life. We want it to be as happy and healthy as possible. I know it’s hard when you’re a parent or work nighttime hours but when you can, maybe some of these tips can help you shut down even just a few minutes earlier.
Give yourself do not disturb hours.
This starts by setting your phone to silent or Do not Disturb for a set number of hours. Mine is set for 10pm-8am (to leave time in the morning for my morning routine sans phone). This way you won’t receive any notifications, will be less tempted to scroll or check your text messages. If you don’t hear your phone, you will be less likely to check it.
The more you also let others know that you typically are unreachable during the set hours, you will also know that you will receive fewer communications during this time.
Remove technology from your bedroom
The bedroom should be a peaceful, calm space. Remove your laptop and phone from your room so that you can focus on sleep as opposed to the blue light distractions of your Instagram feed and latest Netflix addiction.
Avoid working out at night
As a former spin teacher, I used to teach classes at 7 or 8 at night. I loved it because it is a good time with a room full of people just ready to sweat it out; however, it was tough because after class I would have so much energy! It would be hard to wind down with the loud music still in my ear and with the endorphins rushing. I wouldn’t be able to really start to feel tired until around 11 or later.
If you can help it, try movement earlier in your day. This can help tire you out as the day goes on and can get you to bed at a more reasonable hour.
Minimize caffeine after lunch
I am a huge matcha/green tea drinker but I make sure that that is a part of my morning routine and I don’t have caffeine in the middle of the day. If you are a coffee drinker, make sure to have your last cup when it is still a.m.
Turn on a Himalayan salt lamp
There are claims that a Himalayan salt lamp will cleanse the air and promote better sleep. It’s hard to scientifically say if that is an accurate claim or not but I do know that when I turn my Himalayan salt lamp on at night, the soft, ambient pink glow of the room does make my bedroom feel like a warmer environment which I think helps me sleep.
Set realistic expectations and make gradual changes
As someone who slept at 2am regularly, I knew I couldn’t get to sleep at 10pm right away. So I started off slowly – making sure I slept by midnight each night, and then once that was possible, I was able to sleep by 11:30, 11, and so on. I didn’t expect to be someone who slept early and woke up early all of a sudden. Lasting change takes time so give yourself patience to formulate better bed time habits.
Adjust your schedule around your sleep hours
If you know your bedtime is in an hour, it might not be the best time to catch up with a friend where the conversation can likely go for longer than that. Or perhaps your bedtime is coming up so your dinner should be planned accordingly so that you aren’t having to cook and clean right before you sleep. Of course our schedules are ever-changing but if you can adhere to completing all tasks for the evening at least an hour before your bed time, that will definitely help keep you on track!
Find an accountability friend
If you have a friend that knows your goals to sleeping earlier, this person can make sure to text you or check up on you to remind you of your goals! The more people I told of my desire to sleep earlier and wake up not feeling exhausted, the more check ups I received. It’s nice to feel supported by people who want you to succeed and meet your goals!
Have some night time tea
To wind down, reach for an herbal, caffeine free tea that can promote sleep. Teas that have ingredients such as lavender, valerian root, and chamomile can all help get your mind and body relaxed.
I hope these tips help you in getting to bed a little earlier! Let me know how it goes if you happen to try any of these out!