My Nighttime Routine for Optimal Sleep

My Nighttime Routine for Optimal Sleep

 

 

Finals are upon us, which probably means your sleep schedule is all over the place. But have no fear, you are not alone and my nighttime tips will hopefully improve your sleep schedule so that you don’t have to rely on crashing for 48 hours when you return home for winter break. I should offer a disclaimer before I begin, as I am truly a poor sleeper in the sense that it can take hours for me to fall asleep...but that’s a me problem. Over the years I have developed a routine which (usually) helps me fall asleep faster and helps me clear my mind so that by the time I turn off the light my mind isn’t racing with the hours of work that awaits me in the morning. So, just know from one restless sleeper to another, that there is hope and if I (who suffers from chronic mind racing) can succeed in falling asleep with this nighttime routine, then so can you.

For optimal success, carry out the following tips in the order which they are listed!

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!

This step is particularly important during the winter (dry) months. If you can, moisturize your body with body lotion, your hands with hand cream, and add some vaseline to those lips!

Essences...do they even work?

I have never been one for herbal essences, but while I was abroad I picked up some lavender oil that I now religiously put on my wrists before I go to bed. I also proceed to sniff the essence (can you become addicted to essences?) which calms my senses. Currently, I am using a lavender essence which has a natural smell and brings calm to my frantic mind.

Stretch or meditate or move in some way

I am not saying that you should hit the gym before crawling into bed, but I think doing some small, simple movements or taking time to meditate before going to sleep helps your body decompress and relax. As a dancer, I have been following the same stretch routine since high school; it takes me about three minutes and helps my body release tension built up throughout the day. Also, it makes me feel like I was active in some way that day even if I didn’t go to the gym. I have also tried to meditate before bed which helped somewhat with my sleep, but as I already stretch I felt that doing both did not have a huge impact. Also, one does want to eventually get into bed as part of their nighttime routine. In an ideal world though, I would spend 5 to 10 minutes meditating in the morning and at night each day. But we don’t live in an ideal world… at least not yet.

Check all of your social media apps

In an ideal world, I would have no social media apps, but we live in 2018 and I don’t have enough courage or strength to delete all of my apps… perhaps someday, though. What I recommend is that you check all of your social media apps first so that your phone screen is not the last thing you see before you snuggle into your bed. I find that catching up on my various social media platforms before I continue with my nighttime routine helps my mind to slowly become less frantic, as opposed to staring at a screen for 20 minutes before going to bed which would have the opposite effect on me.

Journal!

Time to get out that diary you kept under lock and key in elementary school! But, seriously journaling each night can be really helpful for falling asleep. Each night, I write an entry in my journal about the day, my stresses, how I am feeling, and what I am looking forward to (or dreading for that matter). I try to not make this journal a gossip column, but rather a space to reflect on the day and how I can improve or spill my guts onto a page - either way, it is a wonderful (and educational) way to release stress.

Read (not for school, though)

Many students complain that they don’t have time to read in college and even if they did, they wouldn’t necessarily want to because they already have so much reading for school. My counterargument is that instead of spending extra time scrolling through your Instagram feed, you should devote some time (even just 10 minutes!) to reading a book for fun. I find that reading a book of my choosing and one that does not take too much brain power to read removes me from my world and transports me to a fictional world where my anxieties and stresses no longer exist. Just four pages a night can help you forget your worries and help slow your wind down before going to sleep.

And finally...snuggle in and dream!

This was a tip my dad gave me over a decade ago when I was struggling with falling asleep. My dad, who is an expert sleeper, told me that one trick he uses to fall asleep at night creates a movie in his mind; he creates a plot with characters and imagines how the story would develop. Since this discovery, I often create stories in my mind as I drift off to dreamland; similar to reading before bed this practice removes me from reality and allows me to use my imagination to create a world without stress. If you are lucky, the story you create before falling asleep will turn into a wonderful dream.