Dream Routines & Bedtime Rituals
As an on and off insomniac since I was a kid, it’s taken many years, different advice, and some firm rules to establish good “sleep hygiene”. Even then, changing seasons, where I live and the stresses of day before is enough to trigger eye bags than an Ikea carrier.
With the nights getting longer and winter fatigue firmly setting in, here are some crowdsourced tips for the difficult – and sometimes inappropriately timed – state of being conscious. Next week we’ll do morning routines that get you skipping out of bed. (Comment with any tips).
Part one: Getting to sleep.
Leaving my laptop at work on evenings and weekends has really helped.I also use the bedtime app in iPhone’s clock feature, which I set to dim my screen with orange light and stop notifications from 10pm – 7am. It also gives you a warning 15 minutes before your bedtime. I try to make this between 10pm-11.30pm, though the twelve year old in me still thinks bed before midnight is for nerds and the Flanders children.
I’ve also been trying to keep one or two nights at home as “sacred” early bed nights, rather than going out every night, which is easier now that it’s winter and my primary partner is Netflix.
Noise – living somewhere quieter has infinitely helped, especially now I’m not longer lodging in my best friend’s kitchen, being rocked asleep by lorries on the Old Kent Road. If you’re not in the lucky position of having a quiet home, earplugs help.
A cosy room. I try to keep my bedroom functional. It’s the place I get ready in, sleep and smooch. I try and do everything else in the communal areas, so that when I do go into my room at night and close the curtains, my eyelids start to feel heavy.
I also light a candle with a nice, sleepy scent. The smell is to train me that it’s time for bed.
Worst case scenario routine: Stay up too late drinking wine and watching reality TV, or shouting at the pub. Slump to bed, discarding clothes across floor. Stay in bed scrolling through articles, reading emails and chirpsing various people I fancy. Wake up in night and check group messages. Send 5am memes.
Dream routine – Wash and moisturize face, brush teeth. Plan outfit (checking weather) and pack bag for tomorrow. Set bedtime & morning alarm. Put phone away. Light a candle, tidy room, light some sage, say a spell. Drink sleepy tea. Read a chapter of a book, or write down “busy” or intrusive thoughts in a journal. Blow out candle. Go to sleep.
Darcey: Bedtime routine has to involve an ASMR video! They are my cure for sleepless nights and I wake up having slept so deeply. It also counteracts the scrolling on my phone until right before I sleep head buzz. The reality: Check instagram 12am, 3am, 5am, fall asleep in most of my day clothes with red wine thirst.
Ari: I wish it was: reading in bed, no screens with a hot cup of honey and lemon. It is actually: scrolling Instagram and maybe drinking whiskey
Culloden: The gold rules for me are blue light filters and decaf only from 8pm onwards. Before I go to bed I pile my clothes/bag for the next day by my bedside, if I’m sleeping alone I can blast loud music to startle myself into them when I wake up.
Alison: Bedtime routine has to include sacking off screens of any kind for at least half an hour before I want to get to sleep, a cup of chamomile tea or similar, and reading a book until my eyes literally shut. The tea part isn’t essential but makes for a good placebo.
Sarah: Ideally I’d like to read a few chapters from a book before I go to sleep (this has happened about 3 times) but in reality I queue a bunch of videos on the YouTube app, sometimes do some impulsive late night online shopping and often find myself 53 weeks deep scrolling through an Instagram meme account.
Sarah C: I get such bad insomnia, stressful tiring dreams and never wake up refreshed. But I try and get to sleep with my daylight alarm clock that does sleep time timer with dim colours to calm me down. I do gratitude jars in bed with my eyes closed and that calms me down, stops sadness and stress about the world and helps me relax and smile. I keep the blind open because daylight is supposed to help us wake up but that plus my alarm daylight doesn’t work and sometimes I even sleep through the alarm, birdsong and radio!
Nina: I have an app called Flux on my laptop and phone which starts dimming/warm lighting the screen from 7/8pm onwards. Blue/white light from screens mimics daylight in your brain – and the yellow warm light I think helps release melatonin which sends you to sleep.
What helps you get to sleep? What keeps you up?
Bedroom image from Seventeen magazine, 1963