Friday, January 4, 2013

go the eff to sleep.

A night owl by nature and an anxious one to boot, it has always been difficult for me to keep a reasonable bedtime. Well, that's not wholly true. I can get into bed at a specific time, but it can take me hours to actually fall asleep. Which means that when Kevin finishes up whatever work he's doing in the living room and falls asleep within thirty seconds of his head hitting the pillow it makes me want shake him and say what is WRONG with you?!?

Because he's not often very thrilled when I do that, I decided that I'd start a new winding-down for bedtime routine for January, with the hope that I'd be able to fall asleep sooner upon getting in bed.

I said I'd write a bedtime routine post yesterday, but as I got started yesterday evening, I got too sleepy, which I'll take as a ringing endorsement for bedtime routines. Our living room serves as our dining room, living room, and office, so that's where you'll find us most nights. The arc lamp in that room is on a dimmer switch, so about an hour before bed, we've started to make sure to lower the light. Then I've taken to having a cup of hot tea.

One  of my favorite things in Nashville is a shop called Las Paletas, owned by two sisters who made amazing popsicles in flavors that taste like magic. Rose petal, with its bits of crushed petal stirred and frozen into cream, was the most beautiful by far. It tasted how roses smell.  (Picture on the left by Jennifer Davick.)

Tazo "Rest" tea brings a similar flavor to a mug near you, made with rose petals, valerian root, and citrus. It's delicious with a bit of vanilla almond milk, and is the perfect pre-bedtime starting-to-wind-down beverage. It's warm and soothing and, if you are me, reminds you of the giant rose bushes in your apartment building's backyard as a child.

So that's my step one: lower and/or dim the amount of light you're getting (if you absolutely must use a laptop or phone, turn down the brightness settings) and drink some liquid comfort.

When I start to get tired, I'll head into the bathroom to take care of teeth brushing and face washing. Last night, I moved a small lamp from the kitchen into the bathroom so I wouldn't have to use the bright overheads as I was getting ready for bed. It made things very cozy.

This is also a great time to sneak some aromatherapy in; my pick is the French Cade & Lavender scent candle by Voluspa. I love, love, love this scent and just put in an order for a mini version to keep on my nightstand.

Photo courtesy of Voluspa from

Depending on time and motivation I don't know that I will do this every night, but last night I dry-brushed my skin and moisturized with coconut oil before stepping into my pajamas. Also very relaxing. I am in love with coconut oil. I use it throughout the day to moisturize my lips and hands. This kind is my fave:

Photo courtesy of Dr. Bronner's from the Chicago Tribune.

Once I hop in bed I do a minute or two of child's pose and some deep breathing before I lie down. I have a little tin of lavender-bergamot balm that I use on my temples and a few other pulse points. By this time Kevin has usually put a show on for me (most often The Office, sometimes The Simpsons... it has to be something I've seen a million times so it's not distracting), and then when I'm ready to fall asleep I use an accupressure pillow to cover my eyes*. I've tried using sleep masks in the past and I kind of hate them. They always slip off, and in the process they jank up my hair. The pillow is in a soft silk case, and is filled with lavender scented flax seed.

*Having something on in the background has been my sleeping crutch for forever; otherwise my mind stays too active.  Eventually, I'd like to phase it out.

And that's my routine. Oh, and we also have our air purifier running on medium for ambient noise to help us stay asleep through the night.

More so than these steps (that are specific to me and my tastes), coming up with a routine of your own and sticking to it is the most important part. Then each night when you start doing those familiar things, your body will automatically sense that it's time to start winding down and preparing for sleep.

Here's to hoping good habits will replace the bad.

P.S.  If all else fails, let Samuel L. set you straight: