Finding time to be mindful in our day-to-day lives is already important, but we often forget that it's even more essential to do it right before closing our eyes for the night. You hear experts talk about living in the moment, practicing meditation when you wake up, and enjoying an hour of yoga each day. But no one focuses on the fact that we should be getting at least an hour of peace before bed -- to get in the right headspace for a good night's sleep, to prepare ourselves for the next day, and to reflect on what happened in the hours previously.
When building in mindfulness before bedtime, we first need to focus on electronics. As in, set them aside until the next morning. Studies upon studies show that using your phone, watching TV, or sitting on Facebook before bed does three majorly disruptive things: it delays your internal clock, suppresses the natural release of sleep-inducing melatonin, and stimulates your brain, making it difficult to fall asleep. Seriously, just Google "electronics before bedtime" and you'll find article upon article explaining the science behind it.
The other main thing to focus on when thinking about creating a quiet routine before sleep is the mindfulness mindset. If you're still reeling from the events of the day, stressing about what's coming up tomorrow, or thinking a mile-a-minute about that brilliant new business idea, you'll be tossing back and forth until you can get your mind to a peaceful place.
My personal bedtime routine includes twenty minutes of electronic-free time in front of the sink. I wash off the day, brush my teeth, tone my face, moisturize, etc. for two reasons: I'm physically pampering myself, and I'm using this time to start calming my brain. I stop focusing on whatever may be taking up my mindspace, and I think only about my routine.
When this is done, I turn the lights down in my bedroom and use all the tools in my book to prepare my mind for peace and quiet. Depending on the day, I do a combination of the following soothing techniques:
Light a candle or two
Diffuse essential oils (my favorite blends are Young Living's Grounding, Peace & Calming, Joy, or Stress Away)
Write in my gratitude journal (this is something I do every day)
Read a book
Get any stressors or dilemmas out of my head and onto paper
Check in on my responsibilities and plans for the next day
The goal is to 1) reduce the stimulation in my mind, 2) check in on my day-to-day activities and make sure I'm living aligned to my values, 3) physically relax my body. I do my best to avoid late-night Instagram scrolling or reading any emails. And I never, ever watch television in bed. Sure, some days the caffeine still runs havoc on my system, but I've noticed a significant increase in comfortable, long-lasting sleep since I've started implementing a routine.
How do you wind down before going to sleep? Share in the comments below or join the party on Instagram for updates and more information: https://www.instagram.com/katrina.widener/
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