There’s something almost magical about a good night’s sleep. But when life is crazy it’s hard to come by. Problems feel bigger at 3AM and nobody feels ready to take on the day after a night of racing thoughts. Want to learn how your bedroom can help you get a great night’s rest? It's an easy process of adding and subtracting.
First, let's subtract.
Make your bedroom all about relaxation with a simple technique. If you’ve got something in the room that doesn’t help you unwind, it needs to be elsewhere.
- Are there stacks of "to-dos" in your room? Let go of the nagging visual stress they create at night by finding them a new home. You may find after a few nights of serious sleep, you’re ready to take them on. (Or, if you just forget about them, they probably weren’t that important.)
- Is your office in your bedroom? Seriously. Think about that question. Is your workspace in the same place where you’re supposed to disconnect from the world and be unconscious for at least 7 hours a night? I say this with love but come on! The desk HAS to go. And if there is truly nowhere else it can live, then find a way to put all your clutter to bed at night. Use a decorative box or a basket to clear your work surface or hide it all from view with a screen or a curtain. But do something so you aren’t staring at work when you’re trying to unwind.
- If you’ve got photographs of people that you’re having a rough time with or mementos that bring you down, give yourself a little break and move them to a closet for a while. There’s no reason to feel guilty about it. You’re creating a little mental space for yourself and that’s just healthy living.
- Are you tethered to your cellphone until minutes before bed (or even worse, checking it at night)? This was a tough habit to break but wow, did it make a difference in my sleep and my daytime productivity when I did. To get a little mental distance from the day, I’ve got a “no phone for an hour before bed” rule for myself and I set my phone to do not disturb from 10PM-6AM.
- Put a notepad by your bed. Before you go to sleep, do a data dump of everything you’ve got on your mind. It sounds counterintuitive but it actually helps your mind relax. Imagine your brain is like two hands carrying a bunch of things. You need a place to set everything down in order to do something else.
- Write down everything you want to do the next day. If you’ve got a difficult conversation coming, outline what you’re going to say so you aren’t rehearsing it at dawn. Scribble notes in the dark if you wake up. Then, use it as a to-do list to jumpstart your morning.
All right, you’ve finished subtracting now let’s add.
It’s time to get cozy.
- If your bed looks like a monk’s cot, let’s rock out on bedding. I’m talking soft fleece or alpaca blankets and deep pillows you sink right into. Make it a place that signals your brain to disconnect and wraps you in comfort.
- Create a little mood lighting. Get a lamp that has a three-way bulb or install a dimmer switch. Light a candle while you get ready for bed. Soft, flickering light is totally soothing.
Quick tip: If you want to update your bedding, change your lighting, or find good-looking ways to pack away that clutter, don’t worry about spending a lot of money. Stores like HomeGoods and Target have lots of good-looking options. Or try sites like Sierra Trading Post, Overstock, World Market, and PierOne.
- If you live somewhere that’s a bit loud at night, try downloading an ambient noise app for your phone or get a little sound machine. Or, go low-tech and buy some earplugs.
- Now, what’s my secret weapon for those restless brain moments at 3AM? I have an eye pillow. Not a mask that keeps out light, but an actual pillow you put on your eyes that make your lids feel heavy. Even better, it’s filled with lavender so you start taking deeper breaths because it smells good. Keep those deep breaths going and you’ll find yourself starting to settle down. If your mind wants to interrupt, try this to help you concentrate: breathe in on one and out on two until you get to ten and then count back down to one. Later, when you wake up, you’ll realize it worked.
What do I like most about these ideas? They’re simple. They’re quick. And they work. Start the New Year off feeling great and give these a try.
What’s your favorite way to unwind before bed?
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