We all have bad nights of sleep, and we all go to work tired on occasion; but there was a time in my life when every morning was an epic struggle to get out of my bed and face another work day fueled by nothing but coffee and hope.
At some point, my mornings became so difficult that I started to lash out at my coworkers, human beings I genuinely enjoy being around and would never want to offend. So I said enough is enough, and with the help of a great bedtime routine, I’ve been able to have excellent nights of sleep and regain a piece of who I am — a well-rested individual!
Would you like to know how I did it?
1. I LIGHT CANDLES
I know — this sounds so “spa at home” but I swear by it.
The flickering, soft light from candles — as opposed to the light from lamps or, heaven forbid, overhead lighting — naturally gives you a sense of calm, of winding down, of sleep. I’m a firm believer in turning off my electronics before bedtime, but I’m also a big believer in saving electricity. Using candle light instead of electric lights will also save you some cash on your electric bill. Plus, reading by candlelight is the most romantic and cozy thing in the world, so there’s that.
I especially love scented candles, but it‘s important to not use those that give off too strong or severe of a scent, as that can also disrupt your getting-to-sleep process. Some of my favorites are made right here in sunny Brooklyn by Ali-Marie, a Soul Care Company, but any scented candle which sits well with your olfactory system will work!
2. I READ IN BED
And I do not mean on an iPad.
Many of us, myself included, were read to as children for our bedtimes. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my father reading The Lord of the Rings for extensive hours by my bedside, until I would finally conk out. Something about that time has stuck with me in my psyche for all these years, and reading in bed at night is still a ritual which lulls me into a deeply relaxed state. Reading helps me detach from my hectic day and ready my brain for the wonderful turn-off.
Try it! You might be shocked to find how easily reading in bed puts you to sleep, and how quickly those peepers start getting heavy just a couple pages into your book.
3. I REMAIN COGNIZANT OF THE TEMPERATURE
I run hot — as in, I naturally feel warm most of my time on this planet. Although it may feel great to get all nice and cozy underneath a heavy, warm comforter, I will eventually get hot during the night and wake up, thus sabotaging my own sleep cycle.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a room temperature of between 60 and 67 degrees for optimal sleep, as our bodies are naturally more inclined for slumber when our core temperatures are lower. If you have an advanced A/C system in your home, then you should have no problems getting your room to these temperatures. If you are like me, living in an old building with less than modern amenities, cracking a window, using all-cotton sheets or simply sleeping naked are great ways to make sure you don’t overheat during the night. I try to be aware of how my body is feeling before I crawl into bed: a little cold? Warmer than usual? Very hot? Depending on how I feel, I always try my best to make sure my body will reach that equilibrium so great for sleep.
These simple, small rituals help me sleep and thrive. What does that for you?
Originally published at medium.com