I’ll be honest: I haven’t always been a “good sleeper.” In my 20s and early 30s, tried to cram in all my “me-time” after the kids went to bed, and stayed up way too late as a result. I’ve also gone through a few periods of trying to get up super-early, buying into the idea that that’s the true path to productivity and success – only to eventually crash and burn when the lack of enough sleep caught up with me.
Finally, at the age of 45, I’ve gotten my sleep under control – which is great news, because sleep is incredibly important for wellness in perimenopause and menopause. I no longer fancy myself a night owl, nor stress myself out trying to be an early-bird. Instead, I’ve settled into a healthy and very predictable sleep routine that leaves me feeling rested most mornings. My 35-year-old self might have found today’s Me incredibly boring, but I’ve gotten pretty protective of my sleep and don’t see that changing.
My bedtime routine is a huge factor to maintaining my healthy sleep habits, and the following five steps are the backbone of my routine. Sometimes I speed them up a little if I’m really tired, and when I have the time I’ll add other elements like taking a warm bath or burning a scented candle. But all five of the following essential bedtime routine elements are present in SOME manner almost every single night:
1. Sip a cup of soothing herbal tea.
I drink a cup of herbal tea nearly every night before bed, but when I know I may need a little extra help winding down I make sure to opt for a blend that contains herbs known for calming the nervous system, like lavender, chamomile or tulsi. No matter which herbs you choose, a warm, soothing beverage is a great way to start signaling your body that it’s time to wind down. (If you find that you’re interrupted by midnight trips to the bathroom, you may want to finish this part an hour or two before you head to bed.)
2. Do my skincare routine including gua sha (facial massage).
My skincare routine has become so habitual, it’s now as much of a no-brainer as brushing my teeth. When I’m really tired or in a hurry I do occasionally skim down to just the essentials in my favorite line of products, but when I have enough time, I really like to do the whole works. – which means including gua sha facial massage. Lately I have been experimenting with doing facial massage with my fingers instead of a gua sha tool, and I really like doing it that way as well! I just make sure to use an oil – either the OSEA Essential Hydrating Oil (use code MEAGAN for 10% off) or my DIY facial oil.
3. Practice some gentle movement.
When I’m really sleepy, this part is often really short. I will find the motivation to start by promising myself I’m going to just do 3 minutes, but once I’m down on my mat I usually find that it feels so good I want more time.
An evening movement practice for me typically looks like a free-flowing yoga practice with forward folds, breathing, and at least one restorative yoga pose (I really enjoy Surfboard to help me wind down.) Note: when I’m REALLY weary, I sometimes just do legs-up-the-wall in bed.
4. Wind down to nature sounds and gradually-dimming light.
Before bed, I run an “unwind” routine on my Hatch Restore, which is typically set to some kind of water or forest sound (right now I’m hooked on Icelandic Waterfall.) I also have the light set to gradually dim to mimic a sunset, which is helpful for getting my body clock on the right program. If I have a lot of time, I may journal in bed and set the unwind routine for an hour. If I am more tired or rushed, I’ll set it for 15 minutes and do my yoga and facial massage while it runs.
The Restore has some fun lightscapes to choose from, too – my pick right now is “Alpine Afterglow.” Use the code REINVENT for $10 off your Hatch Restore (or read my review of 3 different sunrise alarms to see why I love it so much!)
5. Read with the lights off.
I love a hard-copy book, but in bed, it’s always my Kindle Paperwhite with the backlight really dim – I usually start at 6 or 7, then gradually dim it to 4 or 5 as my eyes adjust. (If it’s hard to see, increase the font size!)
The research seems to be still inconclusive about whether using a Kindle or other e-reader has the same negative effects on sleep as a computer or phone screen, but I’ve been reading myself to sleep this way since I got my first Kindle 10 years ago and I’ve never had a problem – in fact, I am much more easily able to drift off (or, let’s face it, just plain konk out mid-sentence) than I can with a regular book and the light on.
I also usually choose soothing, gentle books that I’ve read before -true “comfort reads” like Jane Austen novels, the Anne of Green Gables series, or other childhood favorites.
What are essential parts of your bedtime routine? Join us in the Reinvent Midlife community, and let’s talk about it.
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