How to develop a mindful bedtime routine

Best Laid Plans

As a followup to the blogpost on Morning Habits, I thought I would share my nighttime routine that makes the morning routine doable. These 7 habits are the key to truly changing your life for the better. A great day is always preceded by a great night’s sleep. 

  1. Wash your face EARLY.  Gone are the days when we could spread Noxema over our face, wipe it off (and feel that cool tingle of cleanliness) and follow it up with a bit of our mom’s Oil of Olay.  These products are still around but my (and perhaps yours) skin as become drier with age and I need a few more layers to my nightly skin care routine. I realized a few years ago that the thing that was benefitting most from my semi-expensive products was my pillowcase. Slathering my face with my expensive and purposeful products was doing me no good if I put them on right before bed. Now I make it a habit to wash my face and apply products before I make dinner. This way the products have time to do their magic without being consumed by my pillowcase. Then I reapply a light layer before bed. Washing my face early also has the benefit of reminding me that I am prioritizing my health by going to bed early.
  2. Right after washing my face I make one last round through social media sites, answer any unanswered text messages, do a few more Duolingo exercises and then put my phone on airplane mode for the night. Trying to go to sleep after several hours indulging in Instagram posts, FB posts, and all other social media apps is like trying to park a car going 70 mph. Our brains need time to unwind along with our bodies. So, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, set aside your laptop and let your car slow down.
  3. Take some time to reflect on your day. Answer these three questions: what happened for which I am grateful, what actions moved me toward my goals, and are there any changes I can make? Being grateful is the key to happiness and ridding ourselves of anxiety. 
  4. Plan for tomorrow. I always put out my exercise clothes along with my tennis shoes so that I am not digging in drawers at 4:30 am trying to find something to wear. I also make sure that whatever I need to wear for the day is clean,  ironed (I know….there are crazy people like me who still iron!) and ready to go with the shoes and jewelry as well. Knowing my clothes are ready to go makes it so much quicker to leave the house on time. I also plan at least three tasks I know I want to accomplish for the following day. This creates a massive amount of momentum. I don’t waste time in the morning thinking about what I want to accomplish, instead I am ready to begin right away. 
  5. Read- books, the kind written on paper and bound together, you know-the old-fashioned kind. Reading from your phone is not good for your eyes just before wanting to go to sleep. The blue light messes with our eyes and causes us to be more alert than we want to be at that hour. But reading is a great way to slow down our minds and relax when we want to get a good night’s sleep. Try to read something positive.  Just before bed is not the time for a Stephen King novel. Trust me on this. I tried reading Salem’s Lot once before going to bed and had nightmares all night long totally defeating my purpose of unwinding. 
  6. Breathe. Do some deep breathing exercises. The box breathing method of inhaling for 4 counts, holding that breath for 7 counts and then exhaling slowly for 8 counts is a wonderful way of calming our bodies and mind and preparing for sleep. Body scans are also good for relaxing. Imagine each part of your body beginning with your head. How is it feeling, any aches, pains? Work your way down limb by limb, imagining your body falling into deep and true relaxation. 
  7. Finally, don’t forget your supplements that help with sleep and relaxation. Magnesium is very helpful for relaxing your muscles and is best taken on an empty stomach. Other supplements such a melatonin and valerian root are also helpful for restful sleep. Try different ones until your find just the right combination. I will regularly take a bath in magnesium salts as part of my night time routine and it is truly one of the most relaxing things you can do to prepare for a great night’s sleep. 

I hope you find these suggestions helpful and that you too start to look forward with eager anticipation to a great night’s sleep!

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