Self-Care: Sleep Recap

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apartment-bed-carpet-chair-269141Over the last month I have been following the sleep strategies outlined in the Ripple Effect. Each week I implemented one strategy to see how my sleep quality changed. You can read more about what my sleep was like before I started here.

Strategies

The first few strategies I tried were to only consume caffeine in the morning (none after noon) and to tweak my day time naps so they were 20 minutes or less, or 90 minutes. I bought decaf coffee so it was an easy switch and loaded up on some decaf teas. I don’t feel like I normally get a caffeine response, but I also don’t get withdrawal symptoms so I didn’t notice too much of a difference (other than the coffee tasted a little gross at the beginning). I was napping for ~30 minutes before so I just set my alarm for a little bit earlier. I didn’t really notice any changes in my sleep quality after this week.

The next strategy was to limit screen time an hour before bed. This was going pretty well until all of the social distancing started with COVID-19. With a lot of moving parts and trying to get an understanding of the situation I slipped up with screen time quite a bit and it’s been a challenge to create the routine to get back into it. I did get into a habit of reading before bed and I really enjoyed reading for fun but I had a hard time putting the phone away while doing that.

The next two strategies were to make my bedroom a little bit cooler and to make it darker. I set my thermostat to automatically turn down at 9pm and I got black out paper which I put over my bedroom window. These two things made a HUGE difference. I found it way easier to fall asleep, stay asleep, and I woke up feeling a lot more rested.

Sleeping 7-8 hours is the current recommendation for optimal health, I’ve always needed at least 8 or I feel pretty gross the next day. I’ve been sleeping closer to 9-10 hours on days when I feel really rested. I tried limiting my sleep to 7-8 hours but I was left feeling pretty sluggish the next day so I’ve gone back to sleeping closer to 9-10 hours.

The last strategy I implemented was to wake up naturally – this became pretty hard after putting up the black out paper on the windows since it made my bed room really dark and natural light didn’t wake me up. There are a lot of mornings where I wake up and have no idea if it’s 6am or 8am (I also turn off the lights on my alarm clock to make it darker). I committed to waking up when my sunrise alarm clock woke me up instead of snoozing it and I found that once I committed to my pre-sleep routine waking up became A LOT easier.

What I Learned

The most interesting thing I learned what I had to just make my pre-sleep routine a boundary. I had to decide that it was important to me and I committed to it. I let my friends and family know that I wouldn’t be answering texts after 9:30 (10:30pm is bed time). As soon as I made that decision that it was important for me to use this hour it was really easy to stick to it.

So what does my new pre-sleep routine look like?

  • 9:30 – turn off all the lights in my house and turn on some dimmer lamps and my sunrise alarm clock (it has a sunset setting)
  • 9:30 – turn on some chill instrumental music on Spotify with a sleep timer set for 1 hour
  • 9:45 – drink a warm drink (chamomile tea or blue mylk latte) while I read a book
  • 10:00 – do some journaling and complete my Mindset Roadmap from Be Do Have Movement
  • 10:30 – lights out

What does your pre-sleep routine look like?

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