Most of us know that we should be going to bed earlier. But sometimes, it just seems like there’s so much to do when we get home from work that going to bed early isn’t exactly a huge priority.
And now that daylight savings is almost upon us, it’s about to get a whole lot harder to get to bed at a decent time. Who wants to go to sleep when the sun just set anyhow? If you’re like us and seriously struggle with calling it a night, we’ve got some tips and tricks that’ll help you not only feel more motivated to sleep at a reasonable hour, but will help your body prepare for a better night’s rest, too.
Invest in new sheets
If you want to go to bed early, you have to actually look forward to going to bed early. And what better motivator than fresh, luxurious sheets? We firmly believe there are places to save and places to splurge, and when it comes to your bed sheets, you want to spend a little extra money to get a set (with a high thread count) that you just can’t wait to cuddle into every night. Make sure to wash your sheets once every other week too — the fresh feeling will help you relax and snuggle in for what will hopefully be a long night’s rest ahead.
Get into a really good moisturizing routine
If you’re the type of person who just brushes your teeth and hops into bed, you may want to reconsider your method. A great skincare routine isn’t just for maintaining flawless skin; implementing one every evening before bed is a great way to signal to your brain that it’s time to settle down for the night. Plus, massaging cream into your face, legs, arms, hands and feet can help soothe away any lingering stress before your head hits the pillow, bringing you one step closer to relaxation and sleep.
Invest in some good blackout curtains
With daylight savings upon us, it can be hard to go to sleep knowing that it’s only just gotten dark out — shouldn’t we be taking advantage of those extra hours of light? Well, not to sound like a vampire or anything, but that’s where good blackout curtains come in handy. Close them 40 minutes or so before your actual bedtime so that you can trick your body into sleep mode. And, of course, keep them closed at night so that your alarm (and not the earlier sunrise), is the thing to wake you up in the a.m.
We’ve all heard of gratitude journals thanks to Oprah. And while they certainly help us to have a more positive outlook on life, studies have also shown that taking just 15 minutes a day before bed to write down a few things we’re grateful for actually helps us to get a better night’s rest.
Plan a teatime
As tea-drinkers everywhere can attest, there’s nothing quite like a steamy, hot mug of tea to calm your nerves when you’re feeling a little stressed out. And science totally backs this up. If you’re having a hard time letting go at the end of the day or if you need to trick your brain into settling down, brew up a caffeine-free mug of chamomile, peppermint, lavender or valerian. Not a fan of tea? Try sipping on some hot water with lemon instead. Just make sure you don’t schedule your brew too close to bedtime; you don’t want to be running to the bathroom all night.
Close the kitchen early
Bedtime snacking gets the best of us. But not only is it bad for the waistline, it can severely affect our ability to get some shuteye. Know that sluggish feeling you get when you’ve had a huge meal? That’s your body trying to sift through all the nutrients (and maybe garbage) you just gave it. Even if you do happen to fall asleep more easily after a big meal, you’re more likely to have a harder time staying asleep. That’s your body’s time to reset and recharge — something it can’t do if it’s busy breaking down complex foods in your stomach. If you want to go to bed earlier, shut the kitchen down earlier and avoid massive amounts of carbs at dinner (save those for lunch, instead).
Hit the shower
Sure, sure. Many of us need that morning shower in order to wake up and start our days. But don’t shrug off the nighttime bath or shower just yet. If you want to start reprogramming your internal clock, jump in the shower before bed; it can increase the level of oxytocin, a.k.a. a soothing hormone in your brain. Plus, your body temperature will automatically drop once you get out, something that science has proven will help you to relax for bed and get a better night’s rest.
Spray some lavender
There’s a reason so many high-end spas use lavender as a base for all of their essential oils — it can play a big part in helping you fall asleep. Studies have shown that lavender scents may slow the nervous system, reduce anxiety and help us to relax before bedtime. If you want to go to bed earlier, light up a lavender-scented candle, put a couple drops of lavender oil on your pillow or take a bath with lavender salts to help make you sleepier and more relaxed.
Set a bedtime alarm
There are tons of apps out there dedicated to all things sleep-related, but you don’t need a fancy app to set yourself a sleep “reminder.” Set your phone alarm to go off when it’s time for you to start getting ready for bed, or if you have the latest updates on the iPhone, just plug in what time you need to get up. The phone will ding you a reminder of when to go to bed in order to get the optimal eight hours of sleep every night.
Figure out exactly when you should be falling asleep
There’s sleeping and then there’s being awake, right? Not exactly — sleep is a little more complex than that thanks to sleep cycles (there are actually five different stages of sleep). The key is to go to bed at a time that allows you to wake up during your lightest sleep cycle; as a result, you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed and alert. Thankfully, there’s a website out there that will give you all of the best options — right down to the minute — of when you should actually fall asleep.
Take baby steps
If your goal is to get to bed by 10 p.m. consistently but you can’t seem to call it a night before midnight, trying to force yourself to get to bed two hours earlier is only going to mess with your system and make you more frustrated in the long run. Rather than going for gold right away, work on training your body to accept this earlier bedtime. Start with a bedtime that’s 15 minutes in advance of your traditional one, then after a few days, go to bed 15 minutes earlier than that. Eventually, you’ll get to your goal bedtime and your body will stop fighting it.
Don’t force it
Forcing yourself to stay in bed when you’re just not tired enough to sleep can begin a nasty thought pattern that leads to insomnia. Because let’s face it, what’s more frustrating and stressful than lying in bed, thinking about how tired we’re going to be from not sleeping? If after 15 or 20 minutes of trying to fall asleep your body still isn’t having it, get up and do something else to relax. Read, do some light yoga or get into a meditation session until you feel tired enough to try again. At that point, hopefully it’ll be an easy light’s out.
Now what are you waiting for? Sweet dreams!