We all live busy lives. There are times when days just go by in a blur, leaving us wondering what the heck happened. What we’ve done. What we’re doing with our lives.
Then there are those moments when we feel as if the weight of the world were on our shoulders. Days when all we look forward to is going to bed and sleeping it all away – only to find difficulty falling asleep or having a restless night, which in turn results in another draining day full of tasks to complete.
It’s probably because you’re trapped in a similar pattern and you just can’t seem to get out of it.
Here’s a confession: those first paragraphs perfectly describe(d) my life. Things are better now, but there are still times when bedtime isn’t what I want it to be.
I’ve found some effective tricks – things to do before bed, though, and that’s what I’d like to share today.
Things to do before bed
1. Plan the next day before getting ready for bed.
One of the main factors that keep me from falling asleep is my “monkey brain”. It’s when my mind jumps from thought to thought – ranging from tasks at work (they seem endless!) that I have to finish the next day to bills I have to pay to house chores to making sure there is enough cash to get me through the rest of the month. And everything in between.
Mostly, though, it’s what I have to do the next day that keeps me from falling asleep; so I’ve taught myself to plan my day even before I go up to the bedroom.
I enter work tasks in my calendar. I list down chores and errands to be completed.
By doing so, I can rest easy knowing that next day is planned. Whenever my mind starts monkeying around while I am in bed, I remind myself that everything is planned and that I can deal with them in the morning.
It reminds me that I am in control and that I am not merely surviving, trying to catch up with life all the time.
2. Allocate enough time between eating and bedtime.
Our busy lives make it easy to jump into the fast lane without realizing the toll it is taking on us.
Eat dinner (maybe while watching TV).
Go straight to bed.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Is that the way you want to live your life? You don’t get to relax in between activities. You just rush from one thing to another.
I used to be that way. I’ll be honest and admit that I still usually watch TV while eating dinner, but instead of jumping to bed after so I can get more sleep (at least that’s the intention), I stay up a little longer. I try to give it an hour or two between eating and getting ready for bed.
I’ve found this habit to have the following benefits:
- That period gives me more winding down time, mentally.
- That period gives my body time to digest dinner. Sleeping on a full stomach is just as bad as sleeping on an empty one.
3. Create a pampering routine.
Once I am ready for bed, I don’t just lie down immediately. Instead, I’ve created a routine that makes me feel pampered.
Light a scented candle and turn the AC on.
Take a shower or do a quick clean up.
Put on my favorite soothing lotion.
Play some music – whatever I feel like listening to at the moment.
Read a little.
One exception is when I do yoga, although I can consider that as pampering because I love doing it, and I feel more relaxed after. I’ve found that when I do yoga before bed, I fall asleep more easily and sleep deeply.
Your routine may be totally different, but the idea is the same. Do things that will make you feel good before you lie down.
4. Consciously relax your body as you lie in bed.
This is the critical part.
Sometimes, even though I’ve done all of the above, I still can’t sleep! I still find myself tossing and turning, forcing myself to sleep. As you probably know, this only results in the opposite: you get more stressed and stay awake longer.
The cure: make a conscious effort to relax your body.
Tell yourself to relax your muscles, one body part at a time. I start from my toes, then my calves, thighs, abdomen, chest, arms, fingers, neck, jaw, cheeks, and end with the muscles around my eyes. AND actually relax your muscles consciously.
It may sound silly, but it does work! And when you find yourself tensing up again, start from the beginning.
Getting enough sleep is critical to having a great day. Sleeping deeply more so.
If you’re having trouble at night, try doing these things before bed. You’ll be better off for it – mentally and physically.