Early to BedAug 13, 2017
Several students have recently pointed out to me that waking up in the morning is easy if they can get to bed on time – it’s going to sleep at night that is the hard part.
I can’t argue with that.
Most of you are very aware of the benefits of getting enough rest at night, and the benefits of deep sleep. You’ve also probably heard of the benefits of synchronizing the day/night or light/dark rhythms called the circadian rhythm.
But do you know why going to bed early is beneficial to the body? My friend Annette, an Ayurvedic health coach, explains that the dominant energy between 10pm – 2am is reigned by the subtle energy of Pitta. Before 10pm is the slow, heavy, replenishing energy of Kapha. When you fall asleep before 10pm, you get replenished and nourished. The energy at this time of night is more sluggish, so you may find it easier to fall asleep. When you tune into the Kapha time of day, you’ll notice that your sleep is sweeter, deeper, and more healing.
For me going to bed before 10pm is not too difficult. I am active during the day and by the time I get home I am usually exhausted. BUT, going to bed requires me to actually be home. And this can be tricky. Especially when the weather is beautiful, the days are long and light, and I have fun invitations to consider.
You are never going to find time. You have to make it. So if you want to sleep more, you have to make time for it.
I doubt I will ever have a perfectly balanced life, but I like to entertain the idea of it. If there is a social outing that sounds fun to me, I go. Even if I know I will get to bed late and likely wake up tired. I do a quick decision matrix in my head. I consider what I have to do the next day and how much fun I think I am going to have plus who I will be spending my time with and then I make up my mind. I try not to let any invitation or obligation that I am not super into intrude into my sleep time.
Once I’m home, the rest is cake. Here’s what I do to fall asleep fast (and sleep soundly)
- I TURN OFF MY PHONE! Or at least put it in airplane mode. This means that you might need to buy an old school alarm clock. Don’t waste sleep time on social media or TV for that matter. Start unplugging BEFORE you hop into bed.
- I keep my bedroom for sleeping only. I minimize clutter and keep work stuff out of there so it is a calming place for me.
- I control the temperature before I try to go to sleep. This means about an hour before I am ready to hit the sack I scope out the temperature in my room. I open windows, close windows, turn on a fan – whatever. So I know it will be comfy for me when I am ready to go to sleep.
- I wash my sheets a lot. And make my bed every morning. This makes my bed feel more inviting to me.
- I cut out all caffeine by 3pm.
- I keep a bedtime ritual. Mine is easy and short. If I have time I take an epsom salt bath. I love this for my achey muscles, but it also makes me feel sleepy. If I don’t have time for a bath I take a warm shower. Then I put on my plush robe and drink tea – my favorites are Relaxing Tea that I buy from Capital Teas or Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea.
Habits are powerful. This brief ritual sends a message to my brain that its time to sleep. Warm water, robe and tea basically cues sleep for me
- I read in bed. Like a book or magazine, not my phone. The Economist makes me particularly sleepy and I rarely last very long 😂
- If I need to drown out noise, light, or the presence of another person, I use ear plugs and a weighted eye pillow. I particularly love the weighted eye pillow. It helps me relax, it keeps my eyes closed and it keeps light out. I live right by a bus stop and over the front door of my building, so I also find a white noise machine to be helpful. I like this one: Marpac Dohm-DS All Natural Sound Machine.
- I try to go to bed at around the same time every night. I’m not always successful at this and I don’t try to go to bed when I’m not tired because lying in bed and not sleeping is frustrating for me. But in general a consistent bed time means that my body and mind are usually ready to sleep by the time I put them to bed.
If you want to fall asleep fast and wake up feeling good, pay attention to your nighttime patterns and what you automatically do when you get up.
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