With the pace of the modern world, people are feeling more tired and lethargic than ever before. Yet, the obvious solution of getting more sleep, seems to always be just out of reach. Can you relate? The ripple effect of this chronic lack of sleep (and quality of sleep) can then cause a negative domino effect in other areas of our lives, including lowered mood state, poor concentration, lack of energy to exercise and so on and so forth leaving many to look for effective ways to fall asleep earlier.
The simple solution is to go to bed earlier but how come so many well-intentioned people can’t seem to do this and stick with it? Honestly, it’s because it is not a straightforward approach of just going to bed earlier, but instead a handful of choices preceding one’s bedtime that increase or decrease the likelihood of going to bed on time.
Today, we are going to explore 5 before bedtime choices that can be implemented so that, in a short period of time, you can start waking up feeling refreshed and like you got enough sleep!
1. Consistency (designated bedtime)
Your body loves a consistent sleep schedule and so if you don’t yet have a designated time to go to bed (or at least a window that doesn’t differ by more than 20-30 minutes), then now is the time to select one of the best ways to fall asleep earlier.
This may require you to factor in other nighttime essentials such as your child’s bedtime, the amount of time you need to tidy up and then also enough time to wind down & relax yourself.
It will be helpful to also create consistency for your child’s bedtime because your wind down routine typically only starts when they go down for the night. For example, if you have a toddler, decide on a time they are in the bathtub by and stick to it. This will do wonders for not only their sleep schedule but also yours.
If you have a habit of staying up later and accidentally being caught in the “just one more episode” trap, try setting a nightly alarm in your phone to remind yourself when to turn off screens and commence your bedtime routine. This can be an effective way to create accountability with yourself and your goal of getting more sleep. I know this can be especially hard if you are watching something good and so it will be helpful to remind yourself just how wonderful it will feel to wake up and feel rested & ready to tackle the day!
2. Eat The Frog
There’s a popular book called Eat The Frog, by Brian Tracy, which revolves around techniques to stop procrastinating & gain productivity & efficiency throughout one’s day. How this concept relates to successful ways to fall asleep earlier is that often, after a busy day, the first thing we do is reach for our phones to do a little meaningless scrolling (aka IG rabbit hole of doom).
This may seem harmless, but it does push out one’s bedtime until later if that means doing the things that still need to get done (cleaning up the kitchen, putting the toys away or bathing yourself) get pushed out until later into the night.
With eating the frog, it avoids procrastination by giving you incentive to prioritize the important things first (whatever they may be) so that you can soon enjoy your relaxation at the end of the night, guilt-free, knowing there is nothing else that needs to be done and an earlier bedtime now is in reach.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard about blue light blocker glasses to help your body enter into its natural circadian rhythm when evening rolls around. Here’s a simple hack if you don’t want to invest or wear those glasses…
Simply go to the settings of both your smartphone and computer and adjust the light settings to night mode and enter the timeframe you’d like this warmer colour to take effect. Some people will select night mode from 7 pm to 7 am but I personally set mine to night mode 24/7. This feels much more comfortable to my eyes and blocks out a large portion of the blue light, which in turn helps me to start feeling sleepy earlier. If you do this for just 1 week, you will not be able to imagine going back to the regular blue light settings!
Another lighting hack is to explore more ambient options for your bedroom such a Himalayan salt lamps or selenite lamps. These give off a cozy glow that calms and the salt variety even offers air purification from dust and allergens in the bedroom for ways to fall asleep earlier.
To optimize your evening routine, it is helpful to explore supplements and/or herbs that can aid your body feel drowsier as bedtime approaches. Once I get my toddler down to bed, the first thing I do is clean up the kitchen (eat the frog) but simultaneously I start boiling water for my sleep time tea that has valerian root in it, which is a natural sleep aid.
This way, by the time I am done cleaning up the kitchen and the disaster zone of toys my two-year-old left in her wake, my tea is all ready to go. I also take my calcium and magnesium supplement at this time which adds to the overall calming & relaxing effect in my body. Be sure to consult your doctor to ensure your supplement choices are safe for you, taking into consideration any other medications you may be taking.
5. Cut-off times
This step offers a level of accountability to ourselves by knowing what choices or habits would hinder or help our success in getting more sleep. For example, if you love coffee but also know it impacts your ability to fall asleep earlier, then it would be helpful to set a cut-off time where you commit to not having a caffeinated beverage past 11 am.
Another cut off time that could be explored is that for screen time. For example, if you want to be asleep by 10 pm, consider setting your alarm to 9:30 pm as a reminder your bedtime is near. Then, with that awareness, you can choose to wrap up your screen time and, in its place, do something especially helpful to getting sleepy, such as reading.
If you are looking to improve not just the length of your sleep, but the quality of your sleep, you can aim to be asleep by 10 pm. This is because research has shown that between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am, you can get the most beneficial effects of sleep because of your body’s natural hormone secretions during that time. This, along with all the previous listed choices, can greatly contribute to the quality and length of your sleep so that you can wake up feeling refreshed!
Now, if you are being proactive with positive habits to bring about a better night’s sleep but yet you’re still having a hard time (falling asleep, staying asleep or feeling exhausted throughout the day), you may be a perfect candidate for Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy.
At True Balance, we have a wide range of clients who have suffered from sleep challenges due to hormonal imbalances stemming from shift working, becoming new parents as well as perimenopause, menopause and andropause phases of life.
We take a multi-faceted approach which starts with bloodwork analysis as well as a 1:1 consultation to understand how you are feeling and what hormonal imbalances could be causing your sleep challenges. From there, we can determine what BHRT would be most beneficial to support you to get the rest you need to feel your best.
Reach out today to Canada’s largest hormone therapy clinic to find out if this is something that could benefit you too!