If you’ve ever sleep trained your child, you’ve heard about the importance of bedtime rituals. For those of you that haven’t, a bedtime ritual is a series of predictable activities that mark a transition from the business of the day to a more sleep friendly state of mind. These activities can include bath time, teeth brushing, music, massage, stretching, reading etc. I’ve found this practice to be really helpful for my son and it made me wonder, couldn’t adults (mommies in particular) benefit from a bedtime ritual?
As it turns out, I’m apparently not the only one pondering this question. There is lots of research being done on the importance of sleep and how you can improve yours. Here are some simple steps I’ve incorporated into my routine that you might also find helpful both for promoting better sleep and engaging in daily self care.
Put Away Your Phone (& Other Devices) 30 Min. Before You Plan to Sleep
Apparently, your phone, tablet and tv all emit blue spectrum light. Blue spectrum light signals to your brain to stay awake and alert; therefore, scrolling through your Facebook right before you go to bed is making it tough for you to fall asleep. I’ve started turning my phone off 30 minutes before I plan to go to sleep.
Start a Gratitude Journal
After a long, really hard day, I find it really helpful to find some portion of it for which I am grateful. I write it down in a journal I reserve exclusively for that purpose. Then when I am having a really, really, really hard day, I read my entries and count my blessings. It also helps focus my mind when I have my to do lists swirling in my head.
Read a Physical Book (Not Work Related) or Do a Crossword Puzzle
Reading can be like yoga – if you can get your mind to focus only on what you are reading, it can help you quiet fears, anxieties, and nagging to do lists. Nothing makes my eyelids get heavy than reading an actual book.
Slow Down Your Skin Care Routine & Add Some Aromatherapy
Have you ever heard about facial massage? Neither had I. Brushing my teeth, flossing, washing my face, moisturizing – I would just fly through each of these activities as fast as possible so I could get into bed ASAP. Since committing to ritualizing my bedtime routine, I have plenty of time to slow down. Incorporating mindfulness into these tasks has helped make them more enjoyable and loving towards myself.
One of my friends recently gave me something she calls Sleepy Cream. A blend of coconut oil and essential oils, it immediately relaxes me and helps me breathe deeply and dreamily. Some nights, in a pinch, I put lavender essential oil on my temples and wrists (or in a bath to soak in). Others, I heat a neck pillow filled with lavender and rice in the microwave to drape on my shoulders. Still others, I put a lavender infused eye pillow over my eyes when I first turn out the lights. Each of these helps me achieve a more restful state of sleeping.
Take a Bath or Give Yourself a Foot Massage
It doesn’t have to be long, but taking a bath, moisturizing your tootsies and giving them a much needed break at the end of the day can be a great way to decompress and shake off the day.
Above All, Make Sleep a Priority
It can be so tempting, as mothers, to short change ourselves and our sleep habits in service of our families. But, it seems to me that we shoot ourselves in the foot by giving sleep short shrift. Not only does sleep appear to strengthen the basis for learning and memory, loss of sleep is associated with impaired mood, diet, productivity, creativity and decision making. So, let’s all resolve to help ourselves help our families by making the sleep we can get as good as it can be.