Nighttime rituals for better sleep

Early bird gets the worm. Every single successful person I know, look up to or I’ve studied (and keep in mind that “success” can be defined in many ways and it doesn’t always involve work or career) have one thing in common: they’re early risers.

If there’s one thing that had a big impact on me when changing my lifestyle into a more productive an healthy one, it’s taking control of my mornings. Mornings have fewer distractions and on most days, it’s the only time I get some quiet time, or time just for myself. I can set my intentions for the day to come, I don’t have to rush, I get some work done and it all happens before my day “officially” starts. Actually, I’m writing this at 5.30 am.

The thing is, it’s difficult to wake up early in the morning, right? When you hear your alarm go off, the first you want to do is hit snooze. Or throw it out the window.

So, how do you take control of your mornings? By having a smarter bedtime routine.

UNWIND

Let your body know when it’s time to go to sleep. Chances are you’re probably busy during the day- constantly running around. Your body is in that go-go-go mode, which is why it’s difficult to just wind down. You get to bed and start analyzing your day, you remember something you didn’t get to do and start feeling anxious.

Give yourself some time to unwind before trying to fall asleep. Your bedroom should be used only for sleep (and intimacy)- that way when you get into your bed, your body knows that it’s time to fall asleep. Don’t bring things like your laptop or other electronics to bed. Use this time to shut your brain down: take a warm bath, read a book, apply a face mask- whatever it is that calms and relaxes you. I love indulging in my nighttime skincare routine. I do some deep-cleaning my using a cream/oil cleanser like MUN Akwi cleanser (use a code “MUN13T” to save some $$); I massage it into my skin and then put a washcloth under hot water and gently press it into my skin. I usually followup up with a gel cleanser, have a little facial massage and go in with my serums, eye cream, do some dry-brushing. This helps me unwind, relax and prep for bedtime.

If you do this routinely, your brain will make the connection that reading or taking a bath means that you’re ready to go sleep.

AROMATHERAPY

This is another thing that can help you unwind. I just talked about my love for essential oils in this post and my nights wouldn’t be the same without Lavender oil. Using essential oils before going to bed can be calming and relaxing, they will help you not only fall asleep, but also stay asleep. You can try Lavender oil  which has calming and very slightly sedative properties. Add a few drops of one of the oils to a cotton ball and place it by your pillow/nightstand at night, use a diffuser, you can also use a bed linen spray, or apply the oil directly on your wrists and ankles.

STAY COOL

If the weather permits, leave your windows opened for about an hour before you go to bed and let that fresh, crisp air in. The ideal sleep temperature is between 60 and 68 degrees- scientists confirm that cooler bedroom equals better sleep. Core body temperature dips during sleep and a cooler bedroom facilities that temperature decline, making it easier for you to fall asleep. If you’re afraid you’ll be too cold when you wake up, keep a pair of socks on your nightstand. Sounds weird, I know, but I swear it’s something that helps me get up early every single day- first thing I do as I wake up, is grab my socks.

TIDY UP 

People who make their bed in the morning are more likely to get a restful sleep that those who don’t. So make your bed, every single morning. The ideal sleep environment should be clean, free of any clutter (like clothes, electronics, remotes, magazines), cool and quiet. Take it from me- someone who used to fall asleep with a laptop and paperwork scattered all over the bed; mess causes stress and there’s nothing restful about sleeping in a pile of clutter.

TRY MAGNESIUM 

I started taking magnesium back in college when suffering from awful migraines. My migraine would usually hit at night and I noticed that taking magnesium facilitated the unwind and relax bedtime ritual. Magnesium is known as natural muscle relaxant. It was also found to help decrease cortisol- the “stress hormone” which often keeps us up at night. I always have a bottle of Magnesium on my nightstand and reach for it especially after those long, stressful days. It helps my muscles relax, calms me down- it does this by moving calcium out of the muscles and back into the bloodstream. You can take Magnesium Supplement, use Magnesium bath flakes or use a Magnesium oil. I find that a magnesium supplement is SO much better than any other sleep aids- you don’t wake up groggy and it won’t give you weirdass dreams.

It’s also hard to go sleep when your mind is racing, so make sure that you’re not going to bed stressed-try an app like Calm if you find it really difficult to unwind. If you really struggle with falling asleep, remember that it’s not something that will change overnight. It  can take a while to readjust (took me almost 2 years!), but once your body adjusts and recognizes that new routine, your sleep (and in turn, your mornings) will improve.