One of the biggest reasons people experience stress at bedtime is because they fail to plan for a good night of sleep. Like most things, failure to plan is a plan to fail. It seems simple enough for sure. All you need to do is get in bed, turn off the lights, close our eyes, and fall asleep. If only it were that simple. Just like with our kids, the key to getting to sleep is to prepare for sleep ahead of time.
Having a bedtime routine can help combat stress and prep our minds and bodies for rest. The hour before you go to sleep is as important as the moment your head hits the pillow. Here’s why this time is so important:
The activities you engage in leading up to bed affect your sleep
What you do prior to going to bed can make or break your ability to fall asleep. Engaging in screen time, drinking caffeine, watching emotionally intense content, discussing sensitive topics, and other activities can trigger you to be more active when you should be winding down.
Prior to bed, it’s best to do activities that promote and trigger your natural sleep rhythm. Drinking decaffeinated hot tea, taking a hot bath or shower, reading. Listen to a meditation or sleep story and wear comfortable clothing. All of these things prepare our minds for sleep and promote restful sleep that allows us to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.
Your circadian rhythm affects your sleep cycle
Our bodies are designed with an internal sleep cycle. The circadian rhythm is a natural biological process in our bodies that helps us tell the difference between night and day. We have an innate wind-down window where our bodies shift towards sleepiness and ready themselves to go to bed. Disrupting this cycle with staying up late on the weekends or overstimulation can cause significant stress and make it much harder to fall asleep and wake refreshed. Sunday night is often my worse night of sleep for exactly these reasons. I disrupt my regular sleep schedule because I don’t have to get up and go to work the next day. I stay up late and often overstimulate my senses right before bed with lots of activity. Sleeping in later on Saturdays disrupts this schedule even more.
You can help keep your rhythm in sync by setting a routine bedtime and sticking to it. Sleep training your body to sleep and wake at specific times can help manage and override stressful thoughts at bedtime because your body will be used to going to sleep on a schedule. Once your body is accustomed to falling asleep and waking at specific times you likely won’t need an alarm clock nor have trouble falling asleep…even when you have stress. Racing thoughts and a mind that just won’t quit will be a thing of the past.
Create a routine that works for you
Creating a bedtime routine that works for you will help you consistently get ready for bed and fall asleep with very little effort. Everyone is different, what one person needs to wind down may look different than someone else. Develop bedtime habits that help calm, relax, and destress prior to bed and you’ll experience an easier time falling asleep and have more restful nights.
If you think setting up a bedtime routine is something you struggle with, you will want to check out the next article in the “Stressed Out!” series where we discuss setting up effective bedtime routines. You likely run a tight ship when it comes to your kids’ bedtime routines. So, why is it we all struggle with our own bedtime routines? If you would like to start the “Stressed Out! Sleep Series” from the start, you can get caught up by starting here with Is Sleep the Cure for Stress?
Ok ladies, now it’s our turn to chat about this and connect with each other.
I really want to hear what you think about your own bedtime routines. Do you have a bedtime routine or are you too busy running until you simply fall in bed? How is your sleep? Are you able to get a good night’s sleep or are thoughts racing through your head all night? What is one thing you think you can do to improve how you spend the time right before bed? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and stories. Leave me a comment below. The comments are right below the subscription box.
If you want to join this journey to better mental health and a life of intention, click here to get your free Self-Care Mental Health Journal Prompts or fill out the form below. Print the journal pages out, put them in a binder and take a little time to go over the prompts this week. There will be more prompts and information to follow. The best way to deal with stress is to have a friend. Let’s do this together.
Until we connect again,