Thursday, January 28, 2016

5 Habits You Should Do Before Bed


A restful night's sleep: the holy grail of the working woman. Whether it's an 8AM class you have to get to or an intense Monday back at the office, your routine the night before can dictate a lot about your mindset and wellness for the day ahead.

I've spent many a restless night trying to fall asleep or simply avoiding going to bed altogether. Let me tell you, the next day ain't pretty. Yawning, lack of motivation, dark circles under the eyes, crabbiness - they all come out to play when this girl is sleep deprived.

Naturally wanting to combat these side effects I've spent the last few months examining what helps me get a good night's rest. As a result I've nailed down 5 habits that can help me (and hopefully you too!) get into ZzzZzz mode.



1) Set the mood

No, I'm not talking about playing Chris Brown and leaving a trail of rose petals from your doorway to the bed. That's another kind of mood. For sleep, one needs an environment that is the complete opposite of what they experienced during the day.

That means eliminating all loud noises, harsh florescent lights, and anything that falls into the visually-unappealing realm. I'm not kidding here. You want your bedroom to reflect a place of tranquility.

If your overhead light is blinding, swap it out for the warm glow of a bedside lamp or the twinkle of string lights strung above your headboard. This alerts your brain: "Hey, we're in a different environment here" and lets your mind know it's OK to slow down.

Bright lights and a cluttered bedroom may subconsciously remind your brain of the office or classroom. That's why it's important to have a tidy, visually-appealing room in which to unwind in.

I take mood setting to the extreme. I'll flip on my string lights, light a couple of candles, and blast my Enya Pandora station. Nothing says "Welcome home" like Enya and a "Whipped Cream & Pear" Anthropologie candle flickering in the corner.

2) Pamper

You've worked hard all day. But instead of treating yourself to the latest episode of "The Bachelor", try pampering yourself instead. The art of self care has amazing benefits which I personally have only just begun to uncover.

Right now I'm obsessed with dry brushing (taking a wooden brush with natural bristles and bushing your skin in long deliberate strokes, always brushing towards the heart). It sounds like ancient voodoo and it sort of is - well the ancient part at least.

Dry brushing promotes the flushing of the lymphatic system and basically is just super beneficial for your entire body. (If you want to learn more about dry brushing  Read Here)

Other forms of pampering can include exfoliating and moisturizing one's skin or applying a facial mask. I wouldn't recommend any beauty regimens that don't promote a sense of calm. For instance, plucking my eyebrows just makes me angry (in fact, I've sort of stopped altogether in light of the fuller brow trend).

You want to perform an act of self care that is both helpful and soothing. For me, I dry brush, take a hot shower, exfoliate, and moisturize almost every night. The process puts me in ultra-chill mode and by the end my body is warm and tingly and ready to cozy up in bed.




3) Mentally Power Down

This means (sorry social media fanatics) powering down that phone. Ambient light is a stimulus that is proven to keep people awake long after they shut their phone off for the night.

Trade the phone for a book you enjoy or write down some thoughts from your day. This will ensure your mind is at a slower pace once you decide to close your eyes for the night.



4) Skip the Midnight Snack

Don't do what I just did. I snuck into the kitchen and dipped WAY too many dark chocolate covered pretzels into a jar of peanut butter. While I experienced fleeting amounts of ecstasy, I've also reset my biological clock. "We're up! We're eating!" is probably what my body is thinking right about now.

Considering the time, I should have finished my last bite of food hours ago. I've kick started my metabolism at a late hour and I'm also fighting the negative effects of carbohydrates and sugars coursing through my bloodstream.

Not only will those delicious chocolate covered pretzels keep me up, but they'll also be stored as fat while I sleep. Ew. I've just grossed myself out so much.

5) Prep for the Morning

I know you've all heard this before: pick your clothes out the night before. But, for real, you guys should try this! Knowing I have my outfit laid out and ready for the morning feeds me a feeling of accomplishment and I almost go to bed grinning with satisfaction at my "preparedness."

I honestly sleep better and have a better sense of calm knowing I'm prepped for the morning. This includes laying out gym clothes or other items needed throughout the day. If I blend a smoothie the night before, all the better. I'm in girl-boss mode and feel like I can take on the world.

Not only am I not scrambling to get everything together the following AM, but I have established a great start to my day. Ass kicking tone: SET.

While none of these 5 habits will send you into a coma of sleep, I do think repeated efforts surrounding these suggestions will contribute to an overall better sleep life. The key is being habitual. Our bodies like habits and once they pick up on one, it's easier for our bodies to follow suit in the process of preparing for sleep.

What sort of things do you guys do to help you fall asleep? Do you already practice any of the habits I listed above?

Do you sneak chocolate covered pretzels at night? I'd love to hear from you!

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