Sleep is a wonderful thing.
Our lives depend on it. It makes us feel good. Helps us recover. And helps us get leaner, healthier, and stronger.
No amount of daytime recovery can substitute for the deeply rejuvenating effects of quality sleep.
And sleep often doesn’t come easily.
Just like you can't go from deep sleep to high alert ﬁrst thing in the morning, you need time to transition between the demands of a busy day and unwinding to sleep.
To get better sleep, we often need to build better sleep prep practices, and to keep those practices a daily priority.
Your Secret Weapon For Snoozing: A Sleep Ritual
A sleep ritual is a set of behaviours that helps ease the transition between being awake and being asleep. The sleep ritual tells the brain: Hey, it's time to calm down now. Stop thinking about that to-do list and focus on shut-eye.
The reality is ...
We can't actually control how much sleep we get.
Or how well we sleep. Especially if you’re dealing with stuff like small children, sleep apnea, shift work, or other environmental factors that can keep you awake, regardless of your personal effort and best intentions.
The good news is:
By adopting a sleep ritual before bed, we can improve our odds of getting a good night's sleep.
A sleep ritual is a set of behaviours that helps you wind down and make that critical transition from wake to sleep.
A Starter Ritual to Get Rolling
Below is an example of a basic sleep ritual that takes 30 - 60 minutes.
Turn off all electronics (TV, computer, cell phone, etc.). If you’re tempted by impulses to check your phone, try putting it somewhere that’s out of reach of your bed, or in another room.
Lower the lights a bit. Dim light tells your brain it’s time for bed.
Do a "brain dump". Pull out a piece of paper and write down all the things you need to do tomorrow. If you like, add anything else you're worried about, or that's on your mind. Set it aside. Now it's the paper's problem.
Do something that actively calms your mind.
Listen to relaxing music.
Read some ﬁction (or read your kids a quiet bedtime story).
Pet your dog or cat.
Have a warm bath.
Roll tense muscles on a hard ball or with a foam roller.
You can take those calming practices and stack them to routines that you're already doing every night, like brushing your teeth, washing your face, or getting your kids to bed.
Find strategies that you like and get creative to fit them to your existing evening routines.
Be sensitive. Electronics may feel like they calm your brain, but anything with lights and a screen is stimulating to your body. Visual electronics are hyping you up, not calming you down.
Experiment and notice what chills you out and "gears down" your brain.
Source: Precision Nutrition