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How to Create and Maintain a Sleep Ritual for a Happier Day

You know the feeling that most of the globe shares when Monday rolls around. You’re tired, maybe a little hung over from the freedoms and the weekend, and more than anything you just want it to be Friday again so you can sleep in.

Aside from the routines you’ve created to help yourself have a productive day, there are also routines you can—and should—create in order to get a very restful night’s sleep. There are three key aspects to creating and maintaining a healthy sleep ritual.

Obviously, one important part of a sleep ritual is to disengage

Sleeping and disengaging falls into a certain activity type called down time. It’s an important time for your brain to shut down and recover from the things you did and learned throughout the day. Have you ever tried to go to bed with your mind still running full speed? It’s incredibly difficult. However, the problem for most lies in staying disengaged. For example, I know quite a few people who settled in for the evening, only to grab their smartphones and start plugging away at Twitter and Facebook. Neither of these things are designed to shut your mind down, and in fact are designed to keep you browsing the site.

Opt for an activity like taking a walk or doing a bit of exercise to begin shutting off your mind. While you can use this time to consider what you did and didn’t do during the day, avoid picking up your phone or heading to the computer to pass the time.

Once you’ve completed that activity, go to bed

Keep your electronics in a separate room so that they don’t interrupt you if they go off and you avoid the temptation of browsing while you’re waiting to fall asleep. Some studies say that having a TV on while you’re waiting to go to sleep can stimulate your brain again, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep.

Also, those who sleep with the television on may find that the flickering lights keep you from falling into a deep and more restful sleep.

Don’t guilt yourself if you miss a night or mess up

There’s no perfect one-size-fits-all routine for anything. You may try one person’s approach to a sleep routine and find that it actually kept you up all night. The important part of finding and maintaining your specific groove is that you have to find it. Googling suggestions for pre-bedtime activities is a great way to get ideas, but remember that those things may not work for you—and that’s okay.

If you miss a night or find yourself answering emails while you’re waiting to fall asleep, making yourself feel guilty may actually keep you up even longer. More importantly, guilting yourself can cause added stress that you just don’t need. Take note of any extra tasks that required your attention at night, and try harder next time to complete them before the evening rolls around.

While habits may seem like activities that you force yourself to do, rituals are activities that you are drawn to. Everyone wants a decent night of rest, right? Creating a routine that effectively gets you there keeps you happy and healthy during the day.

While your sleep routine may start out as a habit, you can tweak it here and there to convert it into an activity you’re drawn towards. Once you’ve got a routine that works for you, start adding other habits that improve your routine like going to the gym first thing in the morning. Because you’re more rested and refreshed, going to the gym in the morning can be part of a great routine to start your day with. 

Creative Commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Jeff Hill Photo.

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