On the importance of a bedtime routine
I am, much to my own chagrin, an adult. And this means that a lot of my life is spent doing things I would rather not do, such as waking up early to get to a job so I can earn enough money to pay for my own rent and groceries and cell phone bill. Honestly, it sucks. There are no more daytime naps and I only have two days a week where I can read all day. Truly I do not recommend.
So this post is going to be a plug for how to make the gruelling horror of a work day better, and it is what the kids and the wellbeing gurus call 'self-care'. It is on the importance of a bedtime routine, which for me has massively helped with my insomnia and fitful sleep and occasional middle-of-the-night panic attacks, and means that I am less grumpy and have more energy when my alarm does inevitably go off in the mornings.
My bedtime routine is what helps me unwind at the end of the day and get into the headspace of 'day is over, problems are shelved for tomorrow, this can just be about me and relaxing into the evening'. I also find that sticking to a routine, developing a pattern, that I can follow tricks my body and my muscle memory into being tired and that makes it easier for me to sleep - since the muscle memory of this step followed by this step followed by this step is that it's time to go to sleep. It's the adage of '1000 hours of practice to perfect a skill', but for making yourself feel ready for bed and sleeping.
So that's why I think ultimately it's important to have a bedtime routine - just like you have a routine for getting ready to go into the office, you have the reverse for ramping down at the end of a day. I've really enjoyed mine, and I find that any interruptions to the routine - like if I go to bed later than usual, or if I've had a night out - then my sleep is interrupted and I'm stressed and my sleep isn't as good. There's something quite peaceful and sacred about that hour I dedicate to winding down and getting into bed, and I would like everyone to have that little bit of carved-out peace for themselves.
So here's my bedtime routine:
Turn off all screens; phone notifications get silenced; sleep playlist gets started on Spotify; and phone gets plugged in to charge in the work space of my bedroom, which is on the other side of the room from my bedside table so I'm not tempted to check my phone or play with it once my screen time is done.
Light some scented candles - I've got them spread out all over my room, including a lavender-scented one on my nightstand (lavender is my sleep scent, I find it so soothing and relaxing), and I like the lower light when it's time for bed.
Do my evening skincare routine (moisturise, moisturise, moisturise).
Lavender essential oil in the oil diffuser.
Cup of herbal tea (I use verbena because I love the smell, but honestly any soothing green teas would work for me).
Sundown function turned on on my alarm clock (I have a Lumie alarm clock which I cannot recommend highly enough; I use the sundown function at night and the sun-up function instead of an alarm in the morning, since the light patterns are psychologically more healthy than noise alarms and the mimicking of the natural sun patterns help with the whole tricking-your-body-into-sleep-muscle-memory thing) and set to half an hour.
Get into bed with my tea, my book and my stuffed lambie, and I read for the half-hour that it will take my alarm clock to go completely dark. It also usually takes me a half-hour to drink the tea I've made, and by the time that half hour has passed I'm sleepy and ready to curl up under the blanket and drift off.
So there you have it, folks - now I'm off to bed.