Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.
It took me a long time to master the art of getting to bed early, and sometimes I still fail miserably. You see, I have one of those minds that never shuts up. And don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I’m inventing the cure for cancer; most of the time I’m just thinking about how someone would look with purple hair or what my next meal’s going to be. And let me tell you, having a busy mind isn’t good for someone who aims to get to bed reasonably early. I want to retire and get a good night’s sleep, but there are so many things my mind is insisting I do. I have things to google, online shopping to do, TV to watch and I should most definitely shave my legs before wearing that skirt tomorrow.
Before I know it, it’s 3am and I’m sitting on my bed; pondering my career choices while memorising the lyrics of Adele’s new single and watching YouTube videos about how to communicate with my dog. Yes, that’s pretty much a typical night for me. My laptop usually has more tabs open than you’d think is possible. Think beauty blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Boohoo, Netflix, Flight Centre (one day I will be out of here), cooking websites and so much more. And it all needs to be done that night.
Not to mention – there are many other obstacles that can derail my nights and ruin that much needed beauty sleep. Housekeeping, for example, is a huge one. I find having a messy house so stressful that most of the time I try to get it all done as quickly as possible. And on top of that, I then proceed to go through all of the above time wasting steps after I’m done. Other days, I’ll get random guests who want to hang out and gossip all night. And while I love most of them dearly, the next day I’m not only tired as hell, but I’m more hungover than I’ve ever been in my entire life.
But the thing is, our nights don’t have to be so busy. I’ve recently discovered some great ways to ensure I get a good night’s sleep and am ready and raring for the next day (yes, even those dreaded mornings).
Set yourself a curfew and enforce bargaining tools
If you’re anything like me and have absolutely no self control, you’ll need this. If you don’t get home before your curfew or make it to bed in time, appoint yourself a punishment. For example, on weeknights I aim to be in bed by 10:30pm. If I’m unsuccessful, I refuse to buy myself anything nice the next day. If I make the deadline, the next day I’ll reward myself by splurging on a giant burger, complete with a mango smoothie and maybe even some ice cream and/or chocolate (why not both?) It’s a great bargaining tool; even if you are bargaining with yourself. Sometimes grown ups have to be their own parents, and it sucks, but it’s the only way we’ll ever make it in this big, scary world.
Notify all family and friends that you won’t be available that night
Like I said before, these people have been responsible for many of my sleepless nights. When I’m dead set on going to bed early, I text the people closest to me and politely ask them not to bother me that night. This means no Facebook notifications, no phone calls, no text messages and especially no spontaneous visits. It’s not always possible (there’s always that one person), so another good idea is to shut off all social media for the night. It’s easy to deactivate Facebook, and it’s even easier to log straight back in once your strike is over. Just think: your friends and family aren’t going anywhere; you’ll be able to catch up on all the goss before you know it.
Keep a notebook nearby
This is the perfect way to get all your thoughts and feelings down as soon as they pop into your head. If you’re anything like me, you’ll think of something very important as soon as your head hits the pillow. I usually tell myself it’s no big deal, and that it doesn’t matter if I forget about my recent revelation come morning time, but that never works. After all, what if sleep clears my memory and makes me forget the Bachelor finale is on tomorrow night? That would be an absolute disaster! Cue the notebook. Write absolutely everything down (birthdays, work ideas, grocery lists, you name it) and then make sure you read it all in the next day. I found this method creates a long, peaceful sleep free of worry and regret.
Don’t drink caffeine several hours before bed
I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people I know who drink coffee before bed. Everyone knows caffeine keeps you awake, so keep away from the stuff before heading hitting the hay. If you really love a good cup of coffee, opt for decaf. Experts say we shouldn’t drink coffee or consume anything high in caffeine four to six hours before going to bed. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I used to eat a lot of chocolate at night and I was always tired the next day because I couldn’t get to sleep. Ever since I improved my eating habits, I’ve been much more alert and satisfied with my sleeping routine.
Complete your bedtime routine, and then read a book
Did you know screens are more likely to keep us awake more than anything else? For me, this is especially true. Screens are bright, require a lot of concentration and can give you tension headaches. This makes me want to stay up even later because I know I won’t be able to drift off once I go to bed. Books, on the other hand, are a godsend. I love to cuddle up with a great book and let myself doze off naturally. Before doing this, I make sure to create a bedtime ritual and complete it a few hours prior to bed so that I’m ready for sleep as soon as the tiredness kicks in. After all, taking showers, brushing my teeth and other night routines tend to keep me alert for longer periods of time.