Mental Health

Fall Asleep Faster by Creating a “Nourishing Night”

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This article will break down simple, actionable ways to promote a healthy night’s sleep.

If you read my article on how to create a “Mindless Morning”, you have the tools necessary to make your morning less anxiety provoking.  Awesome!  Now that you’ve had an awesome day, it’s time to cap off your night with nourishment.

WHY NOURISHMENT?

Nourishment – substance necessary for growth, health, and good condition.

Nourishment, by definition is necessary for growth.  This growth should happen on a physical, emotional, and psychological level.  Here’s a common example of ways my clients do NOT optimize their nightly routine…

EXAMPLE: A BAD NIGHTLY ROUTINE

Walk in the door, throw work bag on the floor and sit on the couch.  Fire up the TV and hop on “The Gram”. Hit up Uber eats and order a meal from your favorite fast food eatery.  Muster up the energy to take a shower and crawl into bed. 

Work brain is still restless and mind can’t relax.  Hop back on the phone and mindlessly tap and scroll for what ends up being another hour or two.  One YouTube search turns into a marathon session.  Sound familiar?

This evening is detrimental for so many reasons.  You have stopped being productive.  Haven’t tended to YOU (or your family if you have one) since you got home.  You have totally checked out from reality.  Many people still need some time to process the events from the day.  Life passes us by so fast, not reflecting on your day is easy to do.  

What I suggest in this article is that you do the opposite of your “Mindless Morning”.  Create ways to be mindful about what you are doing before bed.  Reflect on the day and create a routine that is productive, relaxing, and satisfying.  Creating this for yourself will help you to understand what you did on that day, help you sleep at night, and help prepare you for ANOTHER awesome day!  

Here is a breakdown of how a typical “Nourishing Night” goes…

YOU WALK IN THE DOOR

You are still in work mode.  Your mind is wound up and all over the place.  Take advantage of this!  Utilize this “on” state of mind to be productive while you can.  If not, you’ll slowly start to unwind and waste time.

First, have meals prepared for your week so that you don’t have to put much effort into cooking EVERY night.  Cooking every night can get exhausting quick!  The stress and anxiety around what to eat, where to eat it, how much it will cost, etc can really become a huge weight on your shoulders.  Lift that weight off ASAP!  Here’s a quick article on suggestions for how to meal prep and make this part much easier for you. 

After nourishing your body with healthy food, it’s time to clean your body.  I know after a long day’s work I feel pretty gross!  Do this ASAP so you can feel clean and well.  I have noticed that when I delay taking a shower, I delay everything else.  Every moment that passes when you are not in the shower, it gets more and more difficult to actually get in the shower!

SET SOME TIME FOR REFLECTION

With a spouse, children, and pets, it can be difficult to work this one in.  You definitely need to prioritize family time and caring for your children.  But setting aside some time to process the day’s activities can help with self awareness.  Also, anything negative that happened to you can be addressed during this reflection. 

Often times, we hold on to grudges, negative energy, etc and it carries over into our home life, relationships, and sleep.  Reflecting on this can be a helpful tool to unwind.  The same can be true for positive moments in your day.  What do you have to be grateful for?  Who are you thankful for in your life today?  What are some areas you need to improve upon? 

These are pretty simple, yet deep, questions that can be answered fairly quickly and do not require much time at all.  The answers don’t have to be ground breaking.  In fact, rarely will they be life altering moments.  But all of the small ones add up quick and you will soon be filled with positive thoughts, emotions, and feelings. 

PRIME YOUR BODY FOR SLEEP

Many of us are familiar with Pavlov’s Dog’s theory, also known as “classical conditioning”.  It’s where your mind associates certain stimulus with something that is going to happen soon after.  For example, imagine hearing the frying sound of bacon on a pan.  Even without the smell, you may start to salivate a little because you associate the frying sound with tasty bacon.

Using this knowledge, you can create an activity that prepares your mind for sleep.  Perform the activity before bedtime and over time your body will begin to correlate it with bedtime. I prefer to use a physical activity to prepare the body and mind. 

My personal favorite is sex.  For myself, and many, the effects of sex are incredible for relaxation, mental clarity, and re-connecting with your partner after a long day.  If you don’t have a partner, masturbation is also a great way to quite literally reconnect with yourself. The positive effects of sex are well documented, especially when it comes to helping you fall asleep.

My second favorite, is a static stretching routine.  This doesn’t have to be long, 10 minutes will do the trick.  If there is no glaring problem with your body mobility wise, focus on the lower back, shoulders, and hips during this time.  These are areas that often times get tight DURING SLEEP.  Stretching before bed will help loosen you up so that you don’t wake up stiff and tight.  Click here for some simple stretched you can do before bed. 

Other examples of sleep primers are reading, meditation, journaling, or any other hobby that you enjoy doing.  Try to stay away from electronics, as this stimulates your brain and limits the production of melatonin (hormone that helps with falling asleep). 

YOUR HEALTH COMES FIRST

With little time to create this nourishing night, you need to prioritize.  What is most important to you?  Pick 3 things and implement a way to incorporate them for YOU.  I am not talking about the time spent walking the dog, changing diapers, taking trash out, or being a great support system for your significant other. 

I’m talking about three things that you are going to do for YOU to help unwind, and set yourself up for success the next day.  If your life is so busy that you cannot find time for 3 things, start with just one thing the first month.  Then add one self care activity every month until you are at three.

Healthcare 101, no care giver can take care of others unless they are first taken care of themself.  You must do this!

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