When the word “routine” comes to mind I think of marching bands or dancers, activities that can not survive unless they are mapped out or performed with some kind of thought and precision. Even a mosh pit has an undulating routine to it. Routines allow great big groups of people to do one thing together nicely, or they allow one person to stay focused and balanced in life. That last one is the one I want to explore with you today; how to have a healthy bedtime routine.
We all have some unhealthy habits. No one is perfect and no one expects us to be perfect, but planning and vowing to commit to healthier routines is something all of us can benefit from. A routine can encompass any part and any time-frame of your day. Whatever moments of your day you decide need to be cleaned up and organized so you can live a better, or maybe your BEST, life are easily honed to fit your lifestyle.
Let’s start planning your healthy future by planning your new bedtime routine.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Pfffft! Who needs to organize that?!” You’d be surprised by how disorganized and chaotic your bedtime thoughts and rituals are at the moment. Just saying you’ll hit the hay when you’re tired is kind of naive and not very healthy at all.
What you do preparing to go to bed at night will set the tone for your entire day tomorrow!
There are several things I like to do before going to bed and not all of them are conducive to sleep. Watching television, especially binge-watching my favorite shows, is not something I should probably do before trying to sleep, but I do it. In order to allow myself this indulgence I plan a cut off time which is usually 10PM, That way I can finish my other bedtime routines and start winding down before drifting off to Dreamland.
- Screentime, which includes phones, tablets, laptops, game consoles and televisions, ends at 10PM. If you’re in the middle of a show you can always hit pause and watch it the next day.
I plan my bedtime to be 11PM. Bedtime is when I am scooching under the sheets and plumping my pillow so I can stretch out and let the day go by closing my eyes to sleep. I am usually gonzo within ten minutes and that’s not because I’m a professional sleeper, it’s because I am used to my routine and my body knows it has my full cooperation to cut loose, so it does.
- Pick a time you are most likely to want to hunker down to sleep and stick to it. It might take a few days or weeks but eventually your body will look forward to that bedtime.
There are routines I like to do before crawling under the covers that prepare my body and mind for the night ahead. Practicing these routines let me know that I am ready for bed. I am ready to catch 7 to 8 hours of good, healthy Zzzzzzzz’s. I wash my face and brush out my hair. I brush my teeth. I tone and moisturize my skin. Sometimes I powder my neck and shoulders with a nicely scented body powder. I wear comfortable pajamas and in the wintertime I wear wool socks to sleep in. Once I get to bed I like to read. There are nights I fall asleep with the book in my hand, but most often I put it away by 11PM and turn the light off.
All of these small actions are part of my bedtime routine and I feel this self-care is the beginning of the night ahead. This is what prepares me to sleep well, to sleep deeply if my body needs to in order to recover from the day before. I want to indulge myself a little every night before bed because I spent my day well and I deserve it.
- If you don’t already have a bedtime ritual you enjoy sit down and plan one. What are some ways you can tell yourself how much you love yourself? For me it’s taking care of my skin before I go to sleep but it can be just about anything that you find soothing and relaxing. Keep in mind you are on your way to sleep so jamming to Metallica on your earbuds and slam dancing might not be the best idea but if that makes you sleepy enough to honor your bedtime then go for it.
How do you pick a bedtime? Well it depends on how many hours of sleep you realistically need to function in a healthy way. Picking a 4AM bedtime so you can sleep until 4Pm the next day only to wake up groggy, out of sorts and totally useless for the rest of daylight is not my idea of a healthy bedtime. Unless you’re working graveyard shifts, playing music in a club or just prefer to be a nightowl because you have no daytime life left in you, going to bed at odd hours close to dawn is not that healthy. Our bodies need a break and at night is typically when they like to take that break. Seriously…since caveman days it’s been this way. That’s why we can not naturally see in the dark.
I tend to sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. It’s rare but I do suffer from insomnia sometimes but having a bedtime routine helps keep it under control. Getting this amount of sleep means I can wake up in the morning and have coffee with my husband before he goes to work. It gives me energy to plan a full day doing activities I love to do instead of dreading the hours ahead because I have a sleep-deprived headache or my body hurts because it’s still tired from abusive sleep neglect. I can take pride and comfort in accomplishing an ambitious To-do list or I can spend the day lounging in a chair on the beach reading a book and improving my Vitamin D supply.
I know it’s shocking but while you were convinced that sleeping is a big waste of your time I’ve been over here making that drool-inducing investment every night and I have time to spare on my hands to spoil myself on a regular basis. Meanwhile I see bags under your eyes and a few fresh wrinkles on your face from worrying because you can’t remember where you put stuff or what day it is. Not getting enough sleep will eventually kill you.
So let’s all sit down today and map out a new and interesting bedtime routine. I’d love to hear about yours too! Please leave me some new ideas I can try in the comments.