If there’s one area in which I truly excel, it’s sleeping. I can sleep just about anywhere and pretty much at any time. I sleep on planes, trains, and whenever I’m the passenger in an automobile. Typically, I can fall asleep in under 10 minutes.
But how do I do that? I’ve developed my own bedtime routine to guarantee a good night’s sleep. And I stick to it. When I deviate from that routine, I end up tossing and turning for hours on end. And nobody wants that (or to be around me after a night like that).
What I’m Wearing:
Headboard: Wayfair / Bedding: Serena & Lily / Euro Shams: Pottery Barn
Throw Blanket: World Market / Nightstands: West Elm / Lamps: Target, sold out (similar)
Pink Throw Pillow: Target / Painting: One Kings Lane / Ring Holder: Jonathan Adler
White Noise Machine: similar / Ring Tray: Kate Spade (similar) / Book: A Gentleman in Moscow
Before we launch into my full bedtime routine to guarantee a good night’s sleep, I thought I’d share a few pointers with y’all:
One: stop drinking caffeine at least 7 hours before you plan to fall asleep. The worst is when your brain is wired and your body just wants to fall asleep – avoid that situation by sticking to decaf coffee or non-caffeinated tea.
Two: limit the alcohol… and balance it out with water. If I plan to go out drinking with friends, I either limit myself to 2-3 drinks in total throughout the night or I spend the last 1-2 hours of the night only drinking water. For every alcoholic drink I consume, I try to have 1.5 glasses of water. Not only will you sleep better, but you’ll also look more refreshed (and less hungover!) in the morning.
Three: leave time to digest. Don’t eat dinner less than an hour before your bedtime if you can help it. I leave 2-3 hours in between finishing the meal and going to bed (if I’m eating dinner from 7PM to 8PM, that means I don’t plan to go to bed until 10PM-11PM).
Four: don’t nap after dinner. I actually made this mistake last night and ended up tossing and turning until 4AM. If you take a late afternoon nap, make sure it ends at least an hour before dinner. That way, you have time to spend the energy you gained during your nap so you’re ready to fall asleep by the time your head hits the pillow.
Five: keep a schedule. I’m considering this more of a tip than an actual part of my bedtime routine to guarantee a good night’s sleep… but keeping a regular schedule is probably the most important thing you need to do in order to sleep well night after night. Due to my current class schedule, I typically fall asleep around midnight and wake up around 9/9:30AM. However, I have had periods in my life when I was falling asleep at 11PM and waking up at 5AM on a consistent basis and I felt completely fine. The important part was not the number of hours, but the routine.
Which brings us to the crux of this post:
My Bedtime Routine to Guarantee a Good Night’s Sleep
I’m a little mental about my sleep. Sure, if I have a lot of work to do, I can (and will) pull an all-nighter. But if it’s a normal night, I will excuse myself from social events to go sleep.
If you have a good night’s sleep, you wake up feeling refreshed. Studies have shown (and I’ve seen in my own life) that if you sleep better, you’ll eat better. Your skin will have better elasticity. You’ll generally just be more “on it” on a consistent basis. Oh, and you won’t be Oscar the Grouch. Which is always good.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
I believe that creating a sleep-friendly environment is paramount to getting a good night’s sleep night after night. For me, that means sleeping on silk pillowcases and setting the thermostat to be between 67ºF and 69ºF from about 30 minutes before I plan to fall asleep to about 30 minutes before I plan to wake up. 30 minutes before I wake up, my thermostat goes to around 70ºF, making me warmer and thus naturally wanting to get out of bed (I hate being hot when I’m asleep!).
Because I keep my apartment so cold at night, I do not wash my hair at night. In the past, I’ve forgotten this rule of thumb and gone to bed with my hair damp. And then woken up with a cold because I keep my apartment like an icebox for a reason. So if you decide to follow my advice and turn the thermostat down, just remember to sleep with dry hair so you don’t wake up with the sniffles.
In addition to keeping my apartment on the chillier side while I sleep (and I would keep it even colder if I had more blankets to keep me warm in my bed!), I have blackout curtains and do not let any light into my room while I sleep. I always travel with an sleep mask, in the event that the hotels don’t have blackout curtains.
The third and final aspect of my nighttime environment: sound. Since I was a sophomore in college, I’ve slept with a white noise machine by my bed. I actually stole it from my grandparents’ house right before the school year started. And I’m pretty sure it’s older than I am. That white noise machine got me through living above a bar in college, living in Manhattan, living next to train tracks in Austin, and – currently – living directly under the flight pattern for Dallas Love Field. I use this one, but this one‘s a bit prettier.
When I’m traveling, I use an app called Relax Melodies as my white noise machine. I combine the sounds of “heavy rain”, “storm”, “rainstorm”, and “oscillating fan” and keep it on a medium-low volume. And I’ve gotten all of my friends obsessed with the app too.
Get Ready for the Occasion
I always wear pajamas to bed. I am convinced that this is a crucial part of my bedtime routine to guarantee a good night’s sleep…. but I may be completely wrong.
At the very least, I wear an oversized t-shirt and boy-shorts to bed. But, more often than not, I’m fully suited up like in the pajamas I’m wearing above. Which are so soft by the way!
Here are a few of my latest faves:
In addition to wearing pajamas, I am also extremely strict about washing up before bed.
I am very prone to acne, so I wash my face three times every night before bed. I use this cleanser, this soapy cleanser, and then I round it out with this cream cleanser. Additionally, my skin is naturally really dry and I will wake up in the middle of the night if it gets too dry (now you understand why I drink so much water when I drink alcohol!). As a result, I typically layer at least 1-2 hydrating serums (this one and this one right now) and 1-2 different moisturizers (this one and this one) before I go to bed. I also use this eye cream with this eye balm every night to avoid the possibility of puffy eyes in the morning.
I also brush my teeth every night. Because I’m a human being (and my grandfather – a dentist – would literally have my head on a spike if he ever heard of me have a bedtime routine to guarantee a good night’s sleep that didn’t include brushing my teeth). I don’t know if “brush your teeth” really needs to be included on a bedtime routine for adults… but it is. So there.
Ditch the electronics
The final aspect of my bedtime routine to guarantee a good night’s sleep: saying farewell to my phone and iPad.
I read every single night before bed. I honestly cannot remember the last night I fell asleep without reading. Typically, I’ll read for about 30 minutes before I fall asleep. So I’ve established a few rules:
- As soon as I set my alarm(s) for the next morning, I put away the phone. I set my alarms before I start reading… so that means that I won’t be looking at my phone screen within 30 minutes of me falling asleep.
- If I have to use electronics, I turn on night shift and turn down the brightness. I admit that I read on my iPad. But I keep it on night shift on the lowest brightness setting, ensuring that my eyes aren’t being overstimulated by blue light so close to bedtime. Whenever possible, I try to read physical books before bed, using the light from my lamp on my bedside table.
- I sleep with all of my electronics on silent and off of my bed. That means that no buzzing or Star Wars-themed ringtones will disturb my slumber. Though I will say that waking up to the imperial march is a helluva way to wake up.
What is your bedtime routine? Any tips or tricks that help you guarantee a good night’s sleep? Let me know in the comments below!