Sarka’s Tips to Wind Down During the Week
If I miss more than a night or two of deep quality sleep, I really start to feel it physically and mentally: I get irritable, I can’t focus, my gym sessions are of poorer quality and I find myself reaching for anything with sugar to keep my energy levels up. And after 40, a couple of nights of bad sleep really shows up on my face!
Over the past year, I have really needed to pin down a routine that takes my focus off of the day and allows me to wind down and get the best possible sleep. I’ve incorporated some simple rituals into my day and evening and they’ve really helped me wind down and get better sleep.
1. I eat my last meal at 6 pm, we eat together as a family and my 3-year-old is in bed by 7 pm, so the kitchen is closed after this time. Although my southern European friends will find a 6 pm dinner obscenely early, I sleep much better on an empty stomach.
2. By far, the main thing to help me sleep better is getting off my phone. I aim for airplane mode by 7:30 pm. This happens some days, other days not, but on the early airplane mode days, I notice I fall asleep faster and seem to have a deeper sleep. There is a palpable sense of relief when that world finally stops buzzing.
3. Plan for tomorrow: I always take 10 minutes to plan for the next day. It’s a great way to quieten my “to-do” mind. I know what I have to do the next day and I can let those thoughts go and relax.
4. I open my window, even in the winter, for half an hour before I go to sleep. Cold, fresh air always makes me sleep better.
5. I use medicinal herbs throughout the day almost every day. In the evenings, if I am feeling particularly wired, I like to settle with a cup of kava to ease some of that nervous energy. I also use passionflower, California poppy, or skullcap to help me sleep. Not every night, but when I most need it. I wrote about calming herbs here, if you want to know more about them.
6. Gratitude: I am not very good at keeping a gratitude journal or any other journal for that matter. I stick to it for a month or so and then it falls by the wayside. But research says that gratitude is powerful, so I try to have some kind of gratitude practice. So, as soon as my head hits the pillow at night, I think of things I am thankful for. It is very peaceful and calming to have those three things running through my head as I fall asleep.
7. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate clutter and “stuff.” My bedroom is my sanctuary, so it is kept very minimal, it gets lots of natural light, and has natural tones and materials.
8. Before getting into bed, I take a few moments to open my shutters and look at the sky. I live in London, so I don’t exactly see the star and planet filled sky like I do when I’m in the mountains of British Columbia, but I still love gazing at it. One of the most calming thoughts I have when looking at the night sky is that my family, who all live in Canada, are under the same sky getting on with their day. It makes me feel incredibly connected to them even though we live so far apart.
9. I never sleep without an eye mask and earplugs. These are non-negotiable for me!