Although the word routine has in some ways become synonymous with boring, the fact of the matter is that routine is important, and is helpful to us in so many ways. Developing routines for different parts of your day can be a great tool to you in recovery. Not only do routines help to keep you on track in your life and in your recovery from addiction, but they will also help you achieve a great deal, and accomplish much. When followed consistently, routines can guide you towards success in any area.
Recently, we posted about creating a morning routine around healthy habits that can help you start your day out right, but an evening, or before bed routine, can be just as advantageous and can further push you towards continued freedom from drugs or alcohol.
How and Why A Bedtime Routine Helps
There are lots of reasons establishing a bedtime routine can improve your life and the quality of your sleep. First of all, part of your routine should include reflecting on the day you’ve had and planning for the next day ahead. These simple practices will help evaluate the successes you’ve had and will help clear and organize your mind about the tasks that need to be completed tomorrow. In doing this, you help to calm down your active mind before lying down in bed. Further, over the course of a busy day, we rarely have time to stop and think. Giving yourself time to unwind and just sit quietly to think about things will keep our minds from racing the moment we close our eyes to rest. And, creating a routine that you follow nightly can help to serve as a signal to your body that its time to go to sleep. Once you start working your way through your evening ritual, your body will automatically get the message that rest is coming soon.
Early Preparation for Bedtime
So many of the things we do in the evenings can be over stimulating. Watching television, surfing the internet (especially social media), chatting on the phone, eating sugary snacks, and rushing around to try to get things done are all things that set us up for sleep failure before we’ve even turned out the light. By avoiding these things in the hours leading up to bedtime, you will find you fall asleep more rapidly and in the morning you will find that you had more restful sleep, too. Here are some tips regarding when to stop doing certain activities to ensure a better night of sleep.
- Don’t nap! Although napping can be tempting, and can even be helpful to you early enough in the day, it’s best to avoid napping after mid-afternoon. Even if you’re very tired, you shouldn’t nap in the evening, or you’ll have much more difficulty in falling asleep.
- Eat earlier. So many things in foods can be stimulating, and it’s often hard to sleep well on a full stomach. If you have trouble sleeping, try eating your dinner earlier, and cut yourself off from all eating and snacking at least two or three hours before your bedtime.
- Cut yourself off from caffeine. Although it’s tempting to have soda in the evening or a cup of coffee before bed, experts say that you should cut out all caffeine six hours before trying to go to bed. Depending on what time you go to sleep, this could mean your last caffeinated beverage should be, at the latest, sometime in the afternoon.
- Don’t exercise late. Most experts recommend exercising upon awakening, but for some people that’s just not possible. As a result, some people push their workout to the end of the day and after dinner. Getting your heart rate up just before bed can be an insomnia trap, so try to complete all heavy physical activity two to three hours before you plan to go to sleep.
- Limit evening work. Focusing on work takes a lot of mental energy, but also can rev up your mind and result in racing thoughts. Try to stop working on things that require large amounts of brainpower at least one to two hours before bed.
- Switch off television and other electronics. About an hour or two before bedtime, turn off the television and computer, and power down your phone. The light emitted from the screens of these devices have been proven to effect sleep, so don’t be a victim.
Just Before Bed
When developing an evening routine, you may want to consider incorporating some of all of the following practices. You may have to play around with them a bit to determine which of them works best for you. Also, the amount of time you want to spend is a factor; if you have limited time available, a mere fifteen minutes or so may do the trick, but if you have more time, such as an hour, you might benefit from an extended routine. Further, once you have chosen specific practices, try to do them in the same order each night. A true routine involves repetition, and it’s once you get into the groove that you will likely experience the most results.
- Find the perfect bedtime and stick to it. Our bodies love routine, so going to bed at the same time every night will help you sleep better. If you change your bedtime nightly, your mind and body will have trouble adjusting, and as a result, you may have trouble falling asleep, or may feel tired before it’s time.
- Reading for pleasure in the evening can be a great routine to start. Not only will you read more than you probably are already, but you will also give your mind a chance to relax before getting under the covers.
- The end of the day is a great time to look back on your day, and to remember and take note of all the things for which you are thankful. A regular gratitude practice can help us in so many ways, and can also help us slide into a restful night of sleep, reflecting on all the good things life has to offer us.
- Listen to music. Taking some time to listen to some soft, relaxing music before going to bed can help to slow you down after a busy day and get you into the right mood for effective rest.
- Bring your temperature down. Our body temperature drops while we are sleeping, so beginning the process before actually going to be can help you get a head start on your rest. As mentioned above, don’t exercise before bedtime; simply relax. A cool shower can also help.
- Have a warm drink. Although drinking a warm beverage may seem to contradict the previous tip, a warm, decaffeinated drink such as decaf tea or warm milk can slow down your metabolism a bit and will actually cool your outer body in contrast.
- Make a short list for tomorrow. Writing down the things you need to get done tomorrow can help you prepare for the day ahead. Getting your tasks down on paper will help remove them from your mind, leaving you less to worry about as you drift off to dreamland.
- Picture tomorrow’s successes. Visualization is a powerful tool that works for many people. Imagining all the things you will get done tomorrow, and how well you will do them after a good night’s sleep, will put you in a positive mindset for the next day.
- Relaxation exercises. There are many practices you can incorporate into your life to prepare you for sleep, including meditation, breathing, and mindfulness. If you are unfamiliar with these things, do some research, try them all, and see what works best for you.
A bedtime routine can change your life. Getting yourself properly prepared for rest is important. It can help you sleep better, and in turn, help you have a more successful day tomorrow. Try the tips in this post and see what works best for you. What works for each individual is likely different, but with commitment and consistency, you will soon find that you are going to bed calmer, and more ready for sleep.
At Clear Sky Recovery, we want to help you break free from the chains of addiction so that you can begin to move more successfully towards the person you were always meant to be. Please contact us today to find out more about ibogaine detox, our facility in Cancun, Mexico, and the ways in which we can help you in your unique and personalized situation. We are here for you, and our intake specialists are standing by to take your call to answer any questions you may have. Please reach out to us today.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.