When the alarm was part of my life and I had to be at work at 8 a.m., I'd carefully calculate how long it would take me to get ready, how long it would take me to drive to work, and what I could and couldn't do in the space between the two to guarantee the maximum amount of sleep I could get. Getting an extra 30 minutes of sleep meant more to me than eating breakfast at home or curling my hair.
Even in college, when other students were staying up late to finish projects, I made sure projects were completed ahead of time just so I could get a good night's sleep.
With work, life, kids, hobbies, and all that thinking, thinking, thinking it's understandable why it can be hard to fall and stay asleep. Especially for that coveted eight hours. But sleep, a good sleep, is uber important to our health. Forgoing those nightly z's can lead to fatigue, memory issues, mood swings, and a slower metabolism...just to name a few.
In order to get a deep, restful sleep it helps to set up nightly rituals about an hour before bedtime. Once your body gets into the routine it will know when it's time to wind down and get some shut eye. Try out a some, or all of these easy pre-bedtime rituals to help you get to dreamland and stay awhile.
use an herbal sleep pillow
Dream, or sleep pillows have been used for centuries to help enhance dreams and bring peaceful sleep. Our ancestors used them to ward off evil, bring good dreams, predict the future, and even bring lovers into their lives.
You can buy one (check Etsy) or create one (here's a tutorial) by stitching your own fabric and filling it with sleep-inducing herbs. And for a bit of magick, recite this charm as you sew your last stitches:
restful sleep come to me
release me from anxiety
as i stitch, this spell is done
as i will it, let it harm none
Herbs that blend well for a peaceful night's sleep:
- balsam fir needles
- lemon balm
- rose petals
drink herbal tea
Not only will the calming herbs help you drift off to sleep, the simple act of sipping a cup of tea before bedtime will calm your mind and send a signal that it's time to get ready for bed. Blend your own sleepytime herbs to steep and sip or peruse the market for teas like Celestial Seasonings and Yogi for bedtime blends.
Okay, you don't literally have to unplug your electronic devices, but you definitely need to shut off those tablet, phone, and computer screens. These type of screens emit blue spectrum light, which tells the brain to stop secreting melatonin (a hormone that helps regulate sleep). Instead, read a book or write in a journal.
I notice that when I haven't worked out in awhile, my sleep satisfaction declines. On the days I do workout, I'm pooped by the end of the night and ready to practically fall into bed. This technically isn't a bedtime ritual, as you shouldn't workout an hour before going to bed (it'll just ramp you up), but schedule in some exercise a few hours before going to sleep and it will help you drift off much more easily.
As a side note, I've found that light stretching before bed eases anxiety and calms the mind/body.
soak it in
There's nothing a warm bath can't cure. Even a hot shower before bed can ease muscles and relax the mind. If you're taking a shower, imagine the water rinsing off all the worries and tension of the day. Light a candle or incense for a bit of aromatherapy.
For a luxurious, dream-time bath, fill a muslin bag with a mixture of:
- 1 cup epsom salt
- 2 cups sea salt
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 2 parts chamomile flowers
- 1 part lemon balm
- 1 part catnip
Fill the tub and put the salt mixture into the water. You can even place a few of the chamomile flowers directly into the water. Then immerse yourself in the bath, take a few calming breaths, and let any stress and negativity leave your body. When you get out, imagine all the negativity draining with the bath water.