I love sleep. When I was working in film full time, I treasured it. But now, even on the most exhausting days, I can find myself struggling to fall asleep as quickly as I’d like. My mind takes over and before you know it, I’ve been tossing and turning for a few hours. Who else can relate?
Over the years, I’ve developed a bit of a routine. Some of it I do before bed to help me relax and other pieces I do when I just can’t seem to get there. Today, I wanted to share a few ideas to add into your routine if you’re in need of a relaxing nighttime change up.
The 2pm Slump
Truthfully, this routine starts in the afternoon. You know that 2pm slump where you drink a cup of coffee as a pick me up? Yep. This is where it begins. Part of the reason that slumps happens, at least for me, is when I have too much sugar in my diet or have a carb filled lunch. When your body comes down from that burst of energy, you face the effects of suddenly being tired. Eating a balanced lunch that’s filled with good fats and veggies can help combat the problem. And if you’re still tired, maybe try for a lower dose of caffeine as your pick me up like an apple rather than a pumped up espresso drink.
I’m painfully aware that the amount I eat at dinner is a delicate balance. Eat too much and your body is still trying to digest and breakdown everything when you’re trying to sleep. Eat too little and you’re hungry as you lie in bed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been awake because of the latter. Try opting for a lighter meal at dinner but it rich with veggies. Your body won’t be slugging through the process of heavy foods but the fiber will help keep you fuller. Win win!
The other thing to consider is how close to sleep time you’re eating. Ideally, you should have at least two hours between your meal and bed time. Give your body a chance to do the work so that it can focus on helping you relax rather than doing everything at once. And if you find you’re still hungry, try for a glass of decaf tea or nut milk. I find it fills me up without making me so full I can’t sleep.
Bed Time Routine
But even if you have caffeine later than you wanted and eat too much for dinner, it happens, I’ve found that the simple act of having a routine can help prepare my body and mind to relax for bed. For me that starts with when I choose to wash my face & do my skincare routine.
There are certain things I’ve found over the years in my bed time routine that I have to be more strict about than others. When I wash my face is one of those things. I can be really tired but when I wash my face I’ve found it wakes me up more. If you struggle with this too, I’ve found that washing my face about an hour before I want to lay down helps me calm back down before sleeping.
Now, depending on if I’m traveling or not, I can adapt this part of the evening. But I like to use lavender essential oil in my diffuser. I love the smell and find that if I keep it as part of my nightly routine it trains my brain to start unwinding. If I’m traveling, I like to take along my ThisWorks Deep Sleep Pillow Spray. A few mists onto my pillow and I start to unwind within minutes. I’ll also brew a cup of tea if I need that extra relaxing incentive.
The other effective thing I’ve found is I wait to go to bed until I’m ready to go to bed. By this I mean I don’t take my laptop. I don’t have a tv. I lay down with the intentions of going to sleep. My body knows that when I lay down it’s time to sleep.
When Routine Doesn’t Work
Even though you have an awesome routine, it doesn’t always mean that you’re going to fall asleep immediately every time. It’s a battle I face every Sunday before I play keys. So this section is dedicated to the what to do when you can’t sleep question. I typically end up using 1 if not all 4 of the m’s:
Mask: This was my saving grace when I was on night shoots and still is when I have trouble sleeping. Blocking the light out helps my melatonin kick in and puts me to sleep quicker. Make note that if you do this you won’t have natural sunlight to assist in waking you up. So if you rely on that, this might not be for you.
Music: A few years ago, I nannied for a short time between shows. We were fighting a coast to coast transition in getting bed time regular so I went exploring on spotify for a soothing kid’s playlist. Every time I would put her down, I would start with the same song on the list. Like Palvo’s dogs, she was trained by the song. Her mind knew it was time to sleep.
I do the same just with a different playlist. And I reserve it for only then. When there’s too much going on in my brain, I bust out the Peaceful Piano playlist and soon I’m drifting to sleep.
Meditation: Another favorite of mine is a guided sleep meditation. When your brain is swirling, some times you need someone to guide you so you don’t have room to wander. I love using the OMG I Can Meditate app*. They have a free sleep meditation you can use to help get some much needed rest.
Melatonin: When everything else fails, I’ll take melatonin. It’s not my go to and I reserve it for only the extreme situations. But it’s effective and more natural than sleeping medicines.
I know that all this info can be a lot to take in but I hope that it helps. Sleep is something we need as much as food & water but don’t often get enough of. So however much you get, I hope that these tips will help you create a relaxing night time routine.
Do you have any tricks for helping you to fall asleep? Leave me a comment below and let me know.
Until next time