Why I had to Develop a Bedtime routine

Sleep. We all need it and know its important for both our mental and physical health  While you sleep, your body is physically repairing itself. So much of our health is tied to our sleep, it is seen as important as the food you eat and exercise. Your stress level, hormones, immune system and so many other things are linked to sleep. I am by no means a health professional but I've learned, by my own experiences, how sleep can affect me.

But as I've learned, Just because you understand the importance of it doesn't mean you get enough. I am not a good sleeper. I wish I was one of those people that fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow but that rarely happens. I'm also typically a really light sleeper so I wake up a few times a night. Those facts, paired with the fact that I'm a night owl means many nights it's 1 a.m. and I find myself binge watching Grey's Anatomy because I can't sleep.

Sleep and anxiety are a vicious circle. Having enough sleep can help you battle anxiety but when your anxiety level is up, your sleep is affected. As someone that has struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, I know firsthand how it can affect everything in your life, including sleep. I am constantly working on keeping my anxiety in check. I've several strategies for that, but that's another post.

Over the last year, I've really tried to find what works for me. My goals were: 1) fall asleep faster 2) stay asleep thru the night. While I'm still a long ways from having a perfect blissful night of sleep. I have learned a lot. I thought I would share my tips and tricks!

Create a Sleep Atmosphere - What is your ideal sleeping situation? Think about the light, sounds and temperature of your room. Dark airy room or do you need a little light and want wit warmer? Next think specifically about your bed. Does it feel comfortable, do you have the right pillows, comforter etc. It may cost a little to get the right items but the return on investment is well worth it. Soft silky sheets and a heavy but not hot comforter are ideal for me.

Have a Routine - A consistent routine will train your brain to know it's time for bed. Your body and mind will start to relax and get ready for rest. Ideally part of this routine would be going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. This will help with your circadian rhythm. I don't consistently go to bed at the same time but I do have a routine I go thru every time I go to bed (see below).

Try some Calming products - There is a whole plethora of products that claim to help you sleep. While I'm skeptical of most of them, there are a few things that seem to be proven to help. Melatonin is a natural supplement that can be taken to aid sleep. I've used it a few times, including on long haul flights. Not getting enough of the mineral magnesium from your diet can cause poor or troubled sleep. I've used this supplement to help with stress and sleep for a few years and have just started using the gummies as well. I am not a doctor, so please make sure you talk to a doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

Supplements aren't the only thing that can have a calming affect. Drinking tea or another warm liquid can help you wind down. Just the ritual of making and sipping tea relaxes me. I'm also starting to learn about essential oils and how they help promote sleep. Lavender is a great one to start with. You can use a diffuser, spray or even a lotion to get the benefits. On of my best friends bought me this Lavender Aromatherapy lotion and I've been using on my hands each night before bed.

Get Rid of Distractions - Think of everything that keeps you from sleeping and find a way to get rid of it. My trouble is turning my mind off. To combat that as soon as I think of something I need to do or remember or work on, I immediately write it down! I will either write it on a sticky or even email myself if its a list! This helps me

Only Use Your Bed for Sleep - This is a really hard one for me because I love to relax and watch TV in bed! I've read a lot that keeping your bed only for sleep is really important. That way your body knows its time for bed every time you lay in it. I have

Taking all the tips and tricks I've learned and shared, I've created a routine that works for me. It is by no means for everyone, but it seems to work for me and has helped my quality of sleep.

My Routine
  1. Quick room pickup. 
  2. My nighttime skincare routine. (see here)
  3. Make some tea
  4. Relax in bed
  5. Read for 5 mins
  6. Use Lavender lotion on hands.
  7. Set TV timer 
  8. Sleep!
Do you have any tips or ideas for getting better sleep?

Kara Krittenbrink

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