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21 Days of Self-Care: Day 6 - Create & Practice a Sleep Ritual

Sleep is a wonderful thing. It makes us feel good, helps us recover, and helps us get leaner, healthier and stronger. (Remember all those naps you took as a kid? Don’t you wish you could have saved some up for now?!)

Unfortunately, good sleep often doesn’t just happen, but you can get better sleep if you make it a priority and build good sleep habits.

Most of us can’t go from 0 to 60 (or faster!) in the morning, from deep sleep to totally energized. But we often try to go from 60 to 0 at night, being busy, working or otherwise amp-ed up right up until bedtime (if we even have an idea when that is). And, like so many things in life, we can’t control how much sleep we’ll actually get, or how well we’ll actually sleep. But we can control our sleep-related behaviors, like creating a sleep ritual.

(Repeat this mantra, because it will apply to so many things in your life: I can’t control the outcome, I can only control my actions that will lead to my desired outcome.)

So, what is a sleep ritual? (Sounds a little ominous, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve chanting or waving magic wands.) A sleep ritual is a set of behaviors that helps you wind down and transition from a busy day to relaxation. Keep it simple to start, taking 10-15 minutes at first, and see if you can work up to the 30-60 minutes suggested below. This requires some prep, so first things first: pick your desired bedtime, and set a reminder about an hour before that it’s time to start moving in that direction.

30-60 minutes before your planned bedtime:

  • turn off all electronics (TV, computer, cell phone)

  • lower the lights – this lets your brain and body know it’s time to start winding down

  • do a brain dump: get a piece of paper, and write down the things you need to do tomorrow, plus 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 calms your mind: read (keep it light, nothing that’s going to agitate you!), listen to music, meditate, take a warm bath, pet your cat or dog

A note about cell phones: this one is tricky, especially if you are using a meditation app for your relaxation! Listen to your mediation, then turn off your phone and stow it away, preferably outside your bedroom.

Find a routine that works for you, and get yourself some more rest.

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