Wouldn’t it would be convenient for our brains to be able to turn off and go into sleep instantaneously just like our smartphones? Believe it or not, even a well-rested person takes a bit of time to ease into sleep.
Indeed, sleep is a process. The best way to prepare the brain and body for sleep is with a relaxing pre-bedtime routine. Consciously use the time before bed to transition from your day to your night and prepare for the sleep that will fuel your success, however you define it, tomorrow.
Start by turning off your phone, or using ‘airplane mode,’ so you will not receive messages. Our phones are wonderful devices, but can be a source of tremendous stimulation. Research shows that use of social media and other information and visually stimulating platforms can reduce the quality of our sleep and increase the time it takes to fall asleep. Phones are also a source of blue light, which, like the sun, actually sends a physiological cue to your brain to become alert.
Make it about you
Instead of receiving more information, completing one more work task, start to view bedtime as time for you. Time to let go of the stress and stimulation from the day and slip into sleep. Remember, the quality of your sleep is what will enable you to wake up refreshed, recharged, and ready for a new day.
Find what relaxes you
Optimal activities before bed are those which are relaxing, and everyone is different. What are the behaviors that relax you the most? If you enjoy taking a warm shower or journaling, make sure to leave time for these activities before bed.
Another part of a soothing bedtime routine can be reading in a book or practicing meditation, which could include sitting for a few moments in a quiet place and focusing on the breath or heartbeat. Meditation can also include focusing on soothing thoughts about people or places you love. Close your eyes and focus on how these individuals, memories, or places make you feel. What senses are involved? Whatever is relaxing to you, start tonight by powering down your phone and indulging in one relaxing activity before bed.
Turn it in to a habit
The most important part of a bedtime routine is that it is practiced regularly. Find the bedtime routine that suits you, however short or long, and commit to practicing this night in and night out. You may find yourself slip into sleep faster than ever before.