Sleep is sacred. My outlook on sleep and my nightly regimen is quite definite - it's one of the most important routines I allow myself to follow. It's not necessarily a tedious to-do list, but rather a series of steps that I make the time for myself to take. I treasure my sleep! I have found that several factors account into a great night's sleep - no late snacks, sleeping in my own bed, finding time to 'wind down' before hand - some are obvious! But here are some habits that I consistently stick to - honestly, every. single. night.
1. Moisturize. I never used to do this until recently but now using my favorite moisturizers - a rotation of this and this - is something I can't imagine not doing! It calms me, makes me feel cooler (literally, it brings down my temperature) and gives me this clean feeling. I usually apply a generous amount to my hands, elbows, legs, ankles, knees, feet - the usual dry spots. This is more of a personal preference but it is a nice treat to end the day!
2. Shut off anything with an on-off switch 15 minutes before closing my eyes. This is a hard one, because it's a rule that is so easy to break. I often do. But I find that when I steer away from digital light, I sleep better and feel so much more rested in the morning. I rely on my phone in the morning as an alarm clock, but I try to set it in advance. It involves discipline, but when it comes to sleep, you have to put yourself first and realize that a refreshing night's sleep really is important. The worst thing you can do before bed is scroll through dozens of instagram photos and crowd your mind with a billion thoughts - it's occupying your mind with visuals and ideas that will not help you wind down! Some old-fashioned techniques like reading a book or magazine never fail me. Luckily, I fall asleep (like a log!) quickly.
3. Stretch out. Okay, this one is my absolute f a v o r i t e. Spending a good, solid five minutes on stretching before sleep absolutely, 100% of the time gives me the most invigorating yet calming feeling ever! I love back bends and gentle yoga moves - nothing heavy duty or cardiovascular. I use a yoga block or strap sometimes, but mostly focus on lower body stretches in the legs, hip openers, and core. I do this all on the floor so that I can be all over the place. Sometimes in place of stretching I will attempt to meditate. I try to mimic my yoga classes. I take a few moments to breathe deeply and allow every fiber of my body to totally melt into relaxation - literally going from fingers to toes, up and down, under and over.
4. Make your bed in the morning. I am sure there are people out there that will shake their head at this one - some people hate making their beds in the morning! And when it's me, during the process, yes, it's annoying. As I am tugging at the covers and throwing the pillows back up by the headboard, I always silently bemoan the fact that it is a work day and I have to get through so many hours before I can climb back into bed again. Parting the bed first thing in the morning is probably THE hardest thing about waking up! But by the time the day is over, and it's finally time for my regimen, the very last thing I do is pull back the covers and climb under my luxuriant sheets. I always think to myself, "I've earned this today!" as I unfurl the top layer of my duvet. So, simply, making the bed gives yourself something to look forward to later in the day, and sets up the reward in advance.