You washed your face, brushed your teeth, climbed into bed, made yourself cozy and then… you lie there. You make lists or simply don’t feel tired and no matter what you do, sleep still feels like a far-off land that you just don’t have a ticket to. Sound familiar?
When it comes to sleep, many hormones and neurotransmitters are at play, but to keep things simple we’ll focus on two key players: melatonin increases at night to put us to sleep, and cortisol increases in the morning to wake us up. When melatonin is high, cortisol is low and vice versa. Sounds simple enough, right? The problem is that most of us modern femmes are contending with two things that affect this interplay in a big way: stress and exposure to artificial light.
So what’s a girl to do? One of the best things you can do to minimize your stress and exposure to artificial light pre-bedtime is to develop a solid bedtime routine. Most of us are pretty good about the personal hygiene necessities but we don’t really take time to unwind and set ourselves up for a truly restorative night. Here are a few tips to encourage you get the right amount of sleep each night.
Step One: Put your work away.
Start by going over the next day. If there are things you are remembering for the next day, write them down, even if you know you’ll have no problem remembering them. I find paper day planners are great for this, but your smart phone will do just fine.
At this point, you’re done with work for the day and it’s time to let it go altogether. This is a good time to put your phone and laptop away too.
Step Two: Change your environment.
Step Three: Pick a calming activity.
If watching TV doesn’t keep you up, then watching a favorite show is okay. Reading, however, is better since the light from the TV screen can be disruptive. If you’re partnered, just lying in bed with your honey and talking (or not talking) can be a great way to unwind.
Step Four: Ritualize your nighttime beauty routine.
Incorporate some ritual into your face-washing/teeth-brushing routine. Do it by candle light if that feels right. Do a little forehead massage when you wash your face and apply your moisturizer. (Use your first two fingers to rub your temples in a circular motion, then reverse. Applying pressure to the center of your forehead between your eyebrows and moving up to your hairline, and then out to your temples is also a good way to relieve any tension.) You can also rub a little lavender essential oil (or any scent that feels relaxing to you) into your temples as well.
Step Five: Get into bed like you mean it.
When you get into bed, take a moment sitting up or lying on your back to check in with your body and mind. Are you still hanging onto anything? Any tension? Take a few deep breaths, let it go, put on an eye mask, and surrender into sleep.
Sometimes you’ll do everything right and still just not be quite ready to sleep. That’s okay – sleep is like a wave that you need to catch. If you miss it, it can be another hour and a half until your body is ready to go to sleep. Instead of lying in bed frustrated, go back to a calming activity of your choice until you feel ready.
If you have trouble staying asleep, alcohol may be the culprit. Alcohol, despite its ability to help some people fall asleep, is a sleep disruptor. Opt for chamomile or valerian root tea instead. If you’re particularly stressed and feel like you need something to unwind, try something with magnesium like Natural Calm before bed.
Sleep away femmes!