When I was a university student, there were times when I had difficulty sleeping. It took me a while to fall asleep because of all the stress-inducing thoughts that conquered my mind at the time. Over time, I tried various methods and evening routines to keep my mental and physical health in good shape. Now, I would like to share some of those routines with you so that you can earn yourself a peaceful night too.
Winding down before you go to bed is vital to having a good night’s sleep. In this day and age, the world seems not to know the meaning of order, and as it becomes more digitalised, we find ourselves staring at our screens several hours daily. The blue light emitted from our screens triggers the production of melatonin, making it more difficult for us to sleep like a baby.
I got into the habit of reading a book while listening to calm music before bed. However, it is worth noting that my evening routines are ineffective for everyone because no two human beings are the same. Nevertheless, I am learning more about myself and, from there, find ways to sleep longer and better. When you have a good night’s sleep, you will wake up the following day feeling fresh and energetic.
1. Cut Down Your Screen Time
Melatonin is the hormone responsible for the regulation of one’s sleep-wake cycles. When darkness falls, the body produces more melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep. Conversely, when your body is exposed to light, melatonin production decreases and signals the body to prepare for being awake.
The blue light emitted from your computer or mobile devices interferes with the production of melatonin by your brain. This interference throws your sleep cycle (also known as circadian rhythm) out of order, making it more difficult for you to get a good night’s sleep and explains why you feel so lazy to do anything when you rise the following day.
Instead of scrolling mindlessly on social media until you drift off to sleep, try pacing your phone away, whether in your drawer or a different room, two hours prior to your sleep time. This step is hard to take at the beginning, but you can set an alarm as a reminder, and it is one of many excellent methods to develop self-discipline. Instead of gluing your eyes to your tablet, give some of the routines below a try.
2. Soak in a bath
There are two types of bathers in this world: people who shower in the morning to start the day and people who shower in the evening to wind down. However, you will find that taking a warm shower and soaking in the bathtub do not offer the same level of relaxation.
You can calm the atmosphere further by lighting a few candlesticks, throwing in several handfuls of bath salt or a bath bomb into the bathtub, and playing some soothing music before entering the bathtub. And the best thing is, you are forced to rest still because the bathtub offers no room for you to manoeuvre. I like to play my favourite instrumentals through a Bluetooth speaker, which I placed at a safe distance away from the bathtub.
Converting your inner voices into written thoughts before you sleep is a good way to unwind yourself– for me, that is. It is like unloading all of the thoughts that have wandering around in your head throughout the day. I have enough self-awareness to know that when I cannot catch a break during the day or just do not take the time to address those thoughts, they will surface as I am attempting to sleep. Eventually, I will be trapped in an infinite mind loop, which then stresses me out further.
Recording your concerns, what you have done for the day, or just what you appreciate is an effective way to make space for yourself to think and feel about them. If writing all that worries you before bedtime stirs up an overwhelming emotional response, write about the things you are grateful for or the high points of your day.
Reading a good book before you call it a night can do wonders for your sleep quality. Before the invention of mobile devices, people spent their evenings reading books or magazines to unwind. I love reading non-fiction books before bed because I get to spend some “alone” time.
When I am reading in the evening, I am telling my brain that the day is over and it is almost time to go to sleep. One pearl of wisdom, though: make sure your book soothes your mind and does not keep you up at night. There were times when I get so lost in the book that I stayed up way past my bedtime. Yet, #noregrets.
Final 2¢: Own The Night
Everyone has their own set of evening routine ideas, but they embody a mutual theme: brush the day aside. Let your obligations fade away. Love yourself by keeping all your electronic devices away.
I assure you, everything else can wait. The emails that land in your inbox at night can be attended to the next day. You have earned the right to wind down, close your eyes, breathe and relax. The evening should be your time and yours alone. Do not let anyone steal it away from you.