I’m generally a morning person, but I’ve spent years resenting the time I wasted sleeping in. I woke up annoyed at myself every day, disappointed that I hadn’t woken up when I’d planned to and it affected my mood for the rest of the day.
During lockdown, I wanted to change this habit because it wasn’t good for my mental health and to be honest, it was a good time to start — given that I wasn’t doing anything else.
Let me preface this entire post by saying that I’m not suggesting that you must wake up early, or even that you should want to. Improving your sleep routine means finding which hours work for you and being consistent, for me that’s the morning.
Anyway, here’s how I (mostly) perfected my sleep routine.
Minimise screen time
It’s obvious and boring, but it works. Leaving your phone to the side around 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed helps your brain start winding down for the night.
Most phones have bedtime mode that turns your screen to greyscale and switches off notifications to stop any distractions before you go to sleep.
Do something calming before bed
So, if you’re not scrolling on TikTok up until bedtime, what should you do? I find watching TV is better than staring at social media because it isn’t as overly stimulating.
To avoid screens completely, sometimes I pop my headphones on and do sudoku. It’s relatively low-energy and gives my brain something to focus on that isn’t backlit.
Keep your bedroom clutter free
It doesn’t have to be a white padded room, but keeping your bedroom strictly for bedtime and clutter-free helps you avoid stress or distraction before you go to sleep.
You don’t have to keep it spotless either. If I’ve left the clean laundry on the bed (basically every other day), I’ll move it to the living room or utility room to get it out of sight while I try to sleep.
You should aim for a pretty consistent sleeping schedule seven days a week. Yes, even on the weekends.
It’s frustrating that your body doesn’t know it’s Friday night, but staying up late and sleeping in at the weekend undoes all the hard work from the week.
I’m certainly not suggesting that you never stay out past your bedtime. But if you find yourself staying up late at home ‘just because’, it might be a good time to try going to bed a little earlier.
Use a sunset light
Light exposure affects how well you sleep. In the winter, I find it easier to get to sleep because it’s already dark by 4pm and my body starts slowing down. During the summer, however, I find it difficult because it’s still light half an hour before my bedtime.
We invested in a Lumie light to helps us wake up when it’s dark in the mornings, but it also helps us get to sleep all year round.
We turn the light on before getting into bed and it fades to darkness like a sunset over around 30 minutes.
Try guided meditation
If I’m really struggling to get to sleep, I put on one of the Headspace for sleep meditations.
The meditations are effective and help me feel calmer and ready to sleep, but sometimes just hearing Andy’s (the co-creator) voice is enough.
If in doubt, leave your bedroom
When I struggle to sleep, I leave my bedroom to sit on the sofa or do some gentle cleaning. This way, the bedroom remains a place for sleep instead of somewhere I spend hours scrolling on Instagram.