Stress, Fatigue, and Caffeine. According to Healthline, this is why about two weeks ago my right eyelid started twitching. Kind of a lot. I don’t think you could tell by looking at me. I was never able to catch it in the act in the mirror. It’s weird and annoying and happens periodically throughout the day.
I’m not giving up my morning coffee, but I could definitely improve my evening routine.
So, I started thinking about sleep and nightime rituals and how a more intentional evening routine could improve my life. I’ve got a pretty solid morning routine down (see my favorite part of that routine here), but a lot is going on with it. To accomplish it all at the leisurely pace I like to, I have to get up pretty early every day. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always mean I’ve gone to bed in time to get a full 8 hours of sleep.
Sleepiness can have a lot of consequences. Here’s a quote from the American Psychological Association from a study that looked at decision making while sleepy:
“ …the sleepy subjects chose to quit the tasks prematurely or they risked losing everything by trying to finish the task for more money even when it was 100 percent likely that they would be unable to finish…”
Not only does sleep affect our decision-making ability, but it also plays a vital role in our learning ability, longevity, weight, resistance to disease, and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. According to The Sleep Judge, adequate rest can even improve our patience!
I think most of us could use a better bedtime routine. Don’t you?
I recently read about Arianna Huffington’s evening routine and was very inspired to create my own. Here’s my recipe for the perfect nighttime routine:
Doing some light stretching, hip opening poses before bed can help you get a deeper sleep, in part by making you more comfortable. It also helps to start the process of unwinding your mind as you focus on the movements and feeling of the stretches. Poses like Legs Up the Wall will give you an incredible stretch and has a calming effect on your nervous system. Mind Body Green calls it “The Only Yoga Pose You Need for Great Sleep.”
Take a bath or a shower.
Arianna takes a bath every night, and this will help you fall asleep sooner due to the drop in your body heat post bath. If you don’t have a bath or don’t want to go through the trouble of taking one each night, taking an evening shower can have a similar effect. Switching to evening showers can be an adjustment if you’re not used to it, but it’ll grow on you.
Do a little beauty ritual.
If you don’t have a skincare routine, start one. It is a beautiful ritual for washing the day off your face and doing some simple self-care. It can be as simple or complicated as you like, from just washing your face and putting on a little cream to a face massage with serums and a sleep masque.
Make a cup of sleepy tea.
Okay, now that you’re all fresh and clean in your jammies, make yourself a cup of something cozy to drink in bed while you read. Chamomile is a nice choice, but passionflower or valerian might be a bit stronger. Stay away from caffeine and yerba mate! To have the best sleep every, you should avoid alcohol, though I do think a little nip of something before bed in the winter sounds pretty dreamy.
Read a Book.
Reading before bed is much less disturbing to your sleep than anything involving a screen. The blue light emitted from our devices keeps us awake and disrupts our sleep patterns.
Reading also improves communication skills, memory, focus, and vocabulary and I don’t know who doesn’t want to improve pretty much all of those things. And, because of sleep’s awesome effects on learning and memory, you’ll retain more of your book! Also, in my experience, you could have more interesting, vivid dreams when you read before bed. Or at least remember your dreams better.
This simple evening routine is my “ideal”, and I’m by no means perfect at this. I’ve switched to evening showers and am climbing into bed with a book a cup of chamomile most nights, but I’m not consistent with stretching yet at all and sometimes resisting my laptop in the evening is hard. And, you guys, my eye is still twitching, but just like once or twice a day instead of 100 times a day.