Our wellness is such an elusive and commonly talked about subject. It is something that forms so much of how we experience our lives, and our overall wellbeing is pivotally important as human beings. However, the pressures of our everyday lives can make it hard for us to find the time to focus on ourselves and to get a sense of intention in our days. This can lead to feeling like our lives are being controlled for us or that we are simply being swept along from day to day and week to week without much purpose.
Simply put, developing a sense of intention is being hyper aware of the things you do, or don’t do, and how they impact your overall mood as well as your general sense of emotional and physical wellbeing. This sense of intention is a form of being mindful with what is going on in the world around you, the things that impact you and the effect that your interaction has with these and on you.
It is increasingly true that we, as a society, are often time poor – so how, if we have limited time available to focus on our wellbeing, can we set ourselves up with sustainable wellbeing habits that can better our overall health?
In this series, we’re going to be diving into how to create sustainable wellness practices to form daily rituals – much like brushing our teeth or eating. We do these things because we know they are good for us. We don’t always see an immediate results from them, but overall we know that if we do them, we’ll see a benefit. Within, we’ll be focusing on three key areas – morning, the middle of the day and nighttime.
In this article, and the final part of this series, we’ll be looking at bedtime routines.
Getting enough sleep can feel like the ultimate quest and setting up a bedtime routine is one of the simplest ways that you can set yourself up for better sleep and in turn, feel a greater sense of wellbeing. In modern society and the pressures that come with it, it is pretty understandable that when we get to bedtime, our minds can often still be racing. We can still be knee deep in thinking about the day we’ve just had or what we need to do the following day. Anxious thoughts and thinking on loop keep your mind in activity mode and if left to develop can become into insomnia. Developing a bedtime routine can drastically help relax you before bed and get you into a place where sleep is both possible and restorative. Bedtime routines can also help us connect with our natural circadian rhythms and help us learn how to relax more naturally – promoting good sleep.
Here are five key factors to consider and help you develop a bedtime routine that sets you up for restorative sleep:
Prep your sleep space
Make sure your sleep space is as dark, cool and quiet as possible. If you need to heat up or cool down the room, such as opening a window to get a breeze, it could be worth checking in on this earlier in the evening so that when you’re ready to get into bed, you can feel better to begin with. It’s important, if possible, to keep your sleep space for sleep. When we start to associate where we sleep with other things, it means that we feel less like it is a habitual space – so try to avoid eating or watching too much tv in bed to keep the association that your sleep space is for exactly that. If you live somewhere small, you could look at ways you can divide up your space to make it feel like determinate sections.
Image descrption: A landscape image. Fay sits on the bed surrounded by leaves from a plant in the foreground. Fay is reading a book and is wearing white and black star print pyjamas.
Set a realistic bedtime
Of course, it isn’t possible to fall asleep at the same time every day. If you work shifts, for example, this can be close to impossible. However, you can work within the ranges that work for you. If you find that the time you go to bed is all over and not very consistent, try to move this as close together as possible – and look for multiple 1.5hour sleep cycles. Following a relatively consistent sleep schedule can help your brain start to feel tired at roughly the same time. However, the allusiveness of needing to get to sleep by a certain time can have massive impacts on actually getting to sleep – so try to remove some of that pressure by keeping in mind that every night is different, and resting is just as important.
It is all too tempting to stay looking on your phone or at the tv screen until you go to bed, however electronic devices all emit strong blue light. The blue light tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime and can have a negative impact on you winding down for sleep by suppressing melatonin and keeping you awake. If possible, try to keep your device use to a minimum at the start of your bedtime routine and put nighttime mode on any devices you may need to look at. Try to set an alarm clock before you begin your bedtime routine for example.
Regular mediation has been proven to help improve the quality of your sleep. There are so many ways to listen to guided meditations online and for free that give you the opportunity to try out what works for you. Some specific sleep meditations, such as yoga nidra, help to calm the brain from distractions by focusing on different areas of the body. These types of meditations can be highly effective if you find your mind wandering when you’re trying to get to sleep.
Journal or writing notes for the day ahead
Keeping a note on where we are that day and how we’re feeling can have a calming effect and allow us to feel more intentional about the life we’re getting to experience. If you find the idea of journaling a little bit too overwhelming, writing a quick list of tasks that need to be done the following day can help you stop ruminating about this as you’re trying to get to sleep, as you know you have it written down.