If you're finding it hard to fall asleep at night, or you're waking up feeling groggy and unrested, it's time to try out a new sleep routine. We often reference a good sleep routine here on the blog, but here is a simple example of a 15 minute purposeful sleep routine.
Many of these examples are things we do already. The key is to work through our 'pre-bed to do list' mindfully, without rushing and just becoming aware of your actions as you do them. For example, enjoy putting on your face cream while taking some deep breaths.
Just 15 minutes before bed, do these things to relax your mind and body so you can drift off into a restful sleep.
Put away all electronics. This means your phone, your laptop, your tablet, anything with a screen. The blue light emitted by screens inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. So if you're looking at a screen right up until bedtime, you're making it harder for yourself to fall asleep. Set your alarm, put your phone on sleep mode and leave it there!
Light a candle, turn lights off or down. If you like to listen to calming music then do. Set the scene for a relaxing calm and cosy build up to bed time. This sounds 'extra' but the dark room and scents of a candle can help prepare your body and mind for relaxation. Your 15 minute routine can be a multi-sensory experience.
Drink some herbal tea. Chamomile and lavender are two herbs known for their calming properties. Make yourself a cup of tea using one of these herbs, or try a blend that contains both. Avoid adding any sugar or honey to your tea as this can actually make it harder to fall asleep.
Spend 5 minutes in the shower (or have a bath if you have one and have time but let's face it we often don't). Feel the hot water on your shoulders and take a few deep breaths. Use it as a moment to pause and rinse away the day. This will help relax your muscles and release any tension you may be holding in your body. The drop in temperature after getting out of the shower or bath will also signal to your body that it's time to start winding down for the night.
Spend 2-3 minutes on some simple self care. Apply body lotion and massage any body parts that feel tense as you apply it. You could even give your face a gentle massage focusing on your jaw and forehead. Press the pressure points and be mindful of your breathing. Even something as simple as brushing your hair slowly and for a little longer than you would if you were in a mad rush before trying to leave for work can be really relaxing.
When you are ready for bed climb in with finality. You can make sure everything is set for the morning, tuck yourself in and exhale. Practice some deep breathing exercises. Taking slow, deep breaths helps to relax the body and calm the mind. Close your eyes and focus on taking long inhales through your nose and slow exhales through your mouth. Repeat this 10 times or until you feel yourself start to relax.
Options if you have a little more time:
1. Reading. Reading even just for 10 minutes will often send most of us to sleep after a busy day!
2. Write down any thoughts or worries that are on your mind. Getting them out of your head and onto paper can help ease your anxiety and allow you to forget about them until morning. If you can't fall asleep because you're worrying about something, this is a helpful way to get those thoughts out so they're not running through your head all night long.
If you follow these steps for just 15 minutes before bedtime, you'll notice a difference in how quickly you fall asleep and how well you sleep throughout the night. Give it a try for yourself and see how much better you feel after getting a good night's rest!