What is your pre-bed routine? What do you do to tell your subconscious that it’s time to sleep? How does your mind know it’s okay to rest?
You know how to start your day: breakfast, shower, dress, commute. You know how to handle the middle of your day: grab lunch, eat, watch a video on your phone. The specifics vary but the general patterns remain. Most of us take pains to optimize those two routines because we feel the acute urgency of our fixed work schedule with every extra minute we spend on either. But rarely do we think about our end of day routine in the same way.
The more you can do to signal to your mind that it’s time to sleep, the better. You might drink a specific tea, put on the yellow shades to block out blue light, put your phone away in another room, shut off your computer, read from a specific book, take some of your pills. The greater the number of cues, the stronger the signal that it’s time to sleep.
Conversely, the less you do that isn’t sleep-related right before bed, the clearer the signal to your subconscious that it’s time to sleep and only time to sleep. Avoiding caffeine, keeping the television off, refraining from social media or the news while in bed, performing most any activity but sleep (or other bed-specific activities) in bed. We do so much to confuse our minds about when we should sleep in this day and age that it’s a wonder we sleep at all, never mind enough.
Try adding one pre-sleep trigger and removing one anti-sleep habit from your bedtime routine tonight. See how much more quickly you fall asleep, using a sleep tracker if you can. Consider adjusting your sheets, your pillows, or your mattress. Tweak the changes over time, but mind your biometrics as you do so. Your morning self will thank you.