Updated: Dec 12, 2019
My entire life, I have been a night owl. I'm not kidding. Literally since birth. My mom has told me that when I was a baby I would lay awake all night in my crib, but sleep all day. Now I wouldn't cry at night, I would just lay there. Quiet. With my eyes open. Awake.
That pattern continued my entire life. But over the past few months, I've been working harder at improving my overall mental and physical health, which means I needed to get better quality sleep at better times. I found myself not being able to get things done in my day because I was exhausted and didn't give myself enough time since I was waking up so late.
I came up with a mindful nighttime routined designed to calm down my body and mind so I could easily doze off. I'm not someone who can just lay down and go to bed, I needed that routine in order to keep my mind off anxious thoughts that kept me from falling asleep. Now I'm able to be in bed by 10:30 and asleep by 11 (this may still seem late but it works for my schedule and is earlier than I've ever gone to bed lol).
So here's what I've been doing:
My nighttime skincare routine: This doesn't really get me too sleepy, but the act of going through the steps signals the end of my night and massaging my face and neck helps my body unwind and relax.
I drop some Lavender essential oil into my essential oil diffuser: This baby is a godsend. There are inexpensive diffusers on Amazon that I highly recommend looking into. The lavender helps set the mood for sleep and the scent is just exactly what pampering smells like.
Put my phone on Do Not Disturb: This step might be the most important one. Actually putting your phone down and deciding not to look at it until the morning is so critical for getting a good night's sleep. So often, I would get notifications from friends, social apps, emails, etc and my phone would just be buzzing all night. And every time, I would wake up and check, usually falling into a social media rabbit hole that would keep me up for sometimes hours. DND is your friend. Literally everything can wait until morning.
Reading a book: It is so hard to find time to read a good book, but I've been giving myself time to grab at least half an hour to read at night to make myself tired. This is so much better than being on my phone before bed and reading is such a lovely thing in general — we should all do more of it!
Calming sounds: I have this app called Calm that I use every night to help me fall asleep. It’s got some guided meditations, stories, and even scenes designed to help you relax. In order to clear my mind enough to fall asleep, I play a thunderstorm scene and it really helps me fall asleep. When I find my mind wandering, I just refocus on paying attention to each raindrop until I eventually fall asleep. This app is great, I highly recommend downloading it!
Lights out and go to sleep: This is pretty self-explanatory. By this time, I'm getting drowsy and it's time for sleep.
Now here's the hard part: waking up. Even if I give myself plenty of hours of sleep, it's hard to actually get up and out of bed in the morning, especially if it's early. I don't know why. I just have never been a morning person. But I've gotten a lot better. Having more time in the morning has helped me get a lot more accomplished in the day than I was doing before.
Here's my typical 7:30am wake-up routine:
Sit up: This sounds simple but it's the HARDEST thing to do when you're comfortable and want to snooze for a few extra minutes. I find this is the best way to actually make sure I don't fall back asleep. I sit up for a minute, do a lil stretch, check my notifications on my phone, then I get out of bed. I also make sure I keep my blinds open so natural light wakes me up.
Drink water: I have my water bottle on my nightstand and first thing I do is take a few big gulps. This wakes me up even more and it helps me start the day on a hydrated note.
Eat breakfast: Breakfast is extremely important to me. I love cooking breakfast and having a wholesome start to my day. Typically I'll eat some avocado toast (because what kind of millennial would I be without it?) with some scrambled eggs and Cholula on top. On the side I'll have some fruit, but my favorite is grapefruit. Half a grapefruit in the morning adds that zing I need to fully wake up.
Work out: This one is TOUGH. But I've found that working out in the morning, before work, sets an amazing tone for the day. Sometimes I miss a workout but when I'm able to get it done, I feel so much better throughout the day. I have some equipment in my basement so I'm able to lift in the comfort of my own home, but getting to the gym is another great option. It's usually not as crowded as it is after work, too!
Get ready for work and go!
These routines have helped me so much in gaining some mindful direction for my days and nights. It got me from just floating around mindlessly throughout the day to being productive and task-driven. Accomplishing little tasks gives me the confidence-boost and sense of accomplishment I need in order to keep going. Positive habits can be hard to form, but once you do they are so worth it. These routines work for me, but other routines might work better for you depending on your needs and schedules.
Let us know your healthy routines and how you best take care of yourselves!