Not sleeping well is one thing, but emphasizing that insomnia will speed up the aging process, makes people pay attention more than anything else. After all, who doesn’t want to age gracefully?
A high level of cortisol slows down the production of collagen leading to a tired-looking and wrinkled face. People that are stressed and can’t sleep or have restless sleep, oftentimes have high levels of this hormone in their blood.
There is no quick fix for most insomnia cases but there is something that works like magic for most people. If practiced consistently it will benefit you in all aspects of your life, not only your sleep. What’s better, it is easy, done at home, and most importantly – it is pleasurable.
Here it is: devote one hour of your evening to prepare for bed.
It is as simple as that. Right about now, you might be saying “but I don’t have the time!” The truth is, taking that time in the evening to relax and prepare for sleep will not only be helping you have a more restful sleep but also help you deal in a much healthier way with your job, kids, partner, and everything else that comes along.
Here are a few steps to create your evening ritual. I recommend doing this for a week straight, then look back at how your sleep and overall week was.
Take a warm shower
This will help you relax and temporarily raise your core temperature. As you walk into your cool bedroom your body temperature will drop and make you feel drowsy.
Dim the lights
Be very selective about what kind of lights you use; warm spectrum lights are best. Bright lights and screens will activate your body and stop melatonin production.
Have a tea date with yourself
You may use your choice of tea or one recommended by a health care practitioner. A wonderful evening tea is the Yogi Soothing Caramel Nighttime. A good nighttime tea will promote sleep and relaxation.
Also, there is something innately relaxing when you sit down with a cup of tea, doing nothing but feeling the warmth of the cup in your hands.
Keep a journal
Writing down your thoughts, things that you have to do and pretty much anything that comes to your mind is very beneficial for your stress level and sleep quality. Residual stress and long-term trauma can affect the sleep quality, make you wake up often at night, and wake up early in the morning. “Pen, Paper, Power” is a great article talking about the fabulous benefits of journaling.
Read or do something you love
It can be anything as long as it is relaxing, not too engaging, and doesn’t involve bright screens.
Go to bed and meditate or practice a relaxation technique
We are all day living in our heads forgetting to be aware of our whole body. Start by feeling your breath and acknowledging any noises around you. Gradually, bring awareness to each part of your body. Come back to feeling your breath often while you do the body scan. Take deep breaths when inclined. When you start feeling drowsy just slip under the covers. If you already have an evening meditation routine follow that and finish it with a short body relaxation in your bed.
It is highly encouraged to simply avoid all electronics in this hour, anything that is upsetting or stimulating, and make sure you have a bedroom free of clutter.
Dalai Lama said, “sleep is the best meditation.” Allow it to be that, by preparing for it properly.