“When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24
For years I struggled with insomnia and night terrors, so I know how debilitating poor sleep is. Insufficient sleep contributes to depression, weight gain, accidents, and impairs your immune response. That’s a fact. But poor sleep, like everything else that affects your health, is not just foisted upon you. It’s more likely caused by what you do or don’t do in the course of the day, and especially in the last hour before you go to bed.
Probably like you, I used to think that a good night of sleep was something that just happened until I started doing some research and developed a very reliable routine to help me get to sleep, stay to sleep, and wake up restored. I don’t do all of the “extras” listed below every night, but they really help.
Like every routine, you have to do it for at least 21 days to make it stick. Try it, I think you’ll like it!
- I plan my bedtime around my morning, and I go to bed around the same time every night. I need at least two hours in the morning because I feel so strongly about a strong morning game. If I have to be someplace at 9AM, I get up at 6AM. I need a good 8 hours of sleep, so I’m usually in bed by 10PM.
- Close down the electronics. Get off your computer and phone at least an hour before bed time because the blue light exposure from electronics seriously messes with your brain’s ability to go into natural sleep patterns. Everyone knows this by now, so there’s really no excuse.
- Leave your phone in another room. Unless you absolutely have to use your phone as an alarm (say, you’re traveling), leave it in another room. If the phone’s by your bed, someone in a different time zone will text you or you’ll get a notification that wakes you out of a deep sleep. Also it’s just too tempting to check email or social media “one last time.”
- Read something worth reading. Watching a little tv is okay, although you should stop at least an hour before bedtime. Reading a good book is way better to prepare your brain for sleep. Have you read all the classics? (Here’s a decent list from Goodreads.)
- Take a gratitude inventory. Thank God for your life, your family, your friends, your job, your health, your home, and your journey. Did you learn anything today? Did anyone help you today? Thank God for all these things and go to sleep thinking about how grateful you are.
- Pray. Every night I pray the Bedtime Prayer from Ransomed Heart (www.ransomedheart.com/pray). Any prayer that is calming and reassuring for you is wonderful.
Extra firepower (I don’t do all of these every night, but they really help):
- Drink a cup of turmeric tea or “golden milk” (nut milk with turmeric paste) an hour before bedtime. Curcumin, the main compound in turmeric, reduces inflammation, improves brain function, and helps reduce anxiety, all conducive for better sleep. Here’s my recipe for turmeric paste.
- Take a warm bath in Epsom salt. You can actually boost your level of magnesium by soaking in Epsom salt, an “anti-stress mineral” that relaxes your muscles.
- Lavender oil on pillow and or/feet. Sprinkle your pillow with a few drops of lavender essential oil and/or dab a drop on the bottoms of your feet. (I do both, and it really helps me go to sleep and stay asleep.)
Thanks for reading, I hope this helps!