It’s been, well, months since I first blogged about finding joy through healthy habits. And then months more since my update about establishing good sleeping habits. This has definitely not been an easy habit to develop. Like I said before, I like going to bed late. Of course, I also like to snack at night (something about the sun going down must bring out something in me).
However, I think I broke through a barrier. One day I went to bed at 10 p.m.—way before my usual time of after midnight) because I’d gotten little sleep the two nights before, and I woke up early the next morning refreshed. It was fantastic. So I started to think that there was something to this “to bed early” thing. Have I perfectly observed getting to bed early and arising early ever since? Pshaw, no. I’m a work in progress, but I am making progress, and that’s really the key.
I’ve also picked up a few tricks throughout the last couple of months, things that work for me…and maybe for you two:
My bedtime routine used to be pretty complicated, and when you know you have an ordeal to go through, you usually delay it as long as possible (or at least I do). I’ve learned that if I cut out some things that aren’t actually that important, then I can look forward to going to bed without navigating the minefield of routine.
Plus, some things we do—check the door locks 20 times, get three drinks of water, and go to the bathroom twice—are just habits that once might have had a purpose, but just bog us down. Check the locks once (I know this can be difficult: I have OCD so re-checking stuff is second nature to me). Get one glass of water, and then you only have to go to the bathroom that once. And I’m not even getting into women and their face-cleaning regimens. I will say, however, to consider if what you do is necessary to your face care or if you’re following some ancient, out-dated method a Mary Kay woman once conned you into buying (kidding) a decade ago.
Similarly, some of those things that you do at night that get in the way of you getting to sleep at a decent time might be easily done earlier. For instance, I used to read the scriptures at night. I now read them in the morning (usually).
When I used to work at THAT job, I’d put my clothes out for the next day and prepare my lunch after I got home from work. That way I didn’t have to stress about it at night and I could sleep a little longer in the morning.
There are still some things I do at night, like journal (you can’t really journal about the day before the day ends) and cuddle with my hedgehog (they need regular human contact or they get super-huffy and grouchy; plus, they’re night animals so getting them out to play in the middle of the day all the time isn’t kind). But the list of what I do now is shorter than what I used to do.
It’s hard to want to go to sleep when you’re keyed up for whatever reason. If you can, do something relaxing. Maybe meditation or yoga. Stretch and do a few deep-breathing exercises to knock that heart’s pace down a few notches. Everybody has little things that do if they want to chill such as drinking a hot beverage or enjoying a piece of chocolate (no judgements). I like to put on my pajamas and think about the day and read. And cuddle Lizzy, my hedgehog. It’s the simple pleasures.
4. Resist Electronics
I laugh as I type this because it’s something I’ve yet to do. I know I should do it. I know that putting the phone or computer or iPad aside will help me get into a good sleeping place sooner, but I find it hard to do that. And I should. You should. There are some interesting studies about the effect of technology use at night and your sleeping patterns. Basically, it’s not a good idea. But then you knew that. It’s like how I know that drinking diet soda is bad. Making the leap to not drinking it anymore, though, is a different matter.
For some reason, the sleep you get before midnight seems to be better than the sleep you get after it. I feel much better after sleeping from 10 to 6 than I do sleeping from 2 to 10 or even 12 to 8 (my personal goal is 11 to 7—10 to 6 is just so ridiculously early).
Let me know what you do to get to sleep earlier. I need all the help I can get. After all, sleeping is pretty important to our emotional health and our ability to…