When I think about my daily routine, my #1 priority is getting enough sleep.
I’ve always hated being tired. Even in high school, when I was taking AP classes, working a part-time job, and heavily involved in extracurriculars, I never once pulled an all-nighter. It was always obvious to me that trying to push through exhaustion was going to be less effective than getting at least some sleep and then waking up earlier to finish up what I could.
I see sleep as one of the most magical gifts we can give our bodies and my girls laugh at me for how often they’ll complain about a physical ailment (a headache, a stomachache, etc) and I’ll tell them that the easiest cure is getting a good night’s sleep.
I do not want to spend my life being exhausted – I don’t want to suffer through days on end of feeling like I can hardly keep my eyes open and I don’t like the kind of person I am when I’m tired. My temper is on a hair trigger when I’m not well-rested, I’m snappish, easily annoyed, and basically the very worst version of myself.
So it’s an enormous priority to me to get a solid night’s sleep virtually every night.
Here are some of the things that help me get enough sleep:
How to Go to Sleep: 11 Tips for Getting Enough Sleep
- Identify your hurdles. If you’re consistently getting less sleep than you want, it’s helpful to pay attention to what’s making it hard for you to get to bed on time. It’ll be different for every person, but once you know what your hurdles are, you can address them.
- Get ready for bed early. For me, one of the biggest hurdles for going to bed on time is getting ready for bed. By the time I’m tired, the idea of changing into pajamas, putting my clothes away, washing my face, brushing my teeth and taking out my contacts feels completely overwhelming. So I almost always get ready for bed at the same time as my kids. It takes me about 5 minutes and then I don’t have to worry about it later. After years of lying on the couch feeling too tired to get ready for bed, this has been a game changer for me.
- Set an alarm 30-60 minutes before bed to remind you. I LOVE an Alexa alarm – it’s such a good mindless reminder to me to keep me on track, whether it’s for a Savvy Reading class, picking someone up from soccer, or . . . that it’s time to wind down for bed. It’s really helpful to have it go off quite a bit before I want to go to bed because 5-10 minutes just isn’t enough for me.
- Put your phone to bed 30-60 minutes before bed. I think for many of us, phone usage is a HUGE bedtime hurdle. I aim to put my phone to bed (i.e. charging in my bathroom) around 9 p.m. so I don’t waste my evening with mindless scrolling or stay up too late by accident.
- Wind down before bed. Winding down will mean something different for each of us – it might be tidying up the living room or meditating or reading a book in bed or working on a jigsaw puzzle, but whatever it is, having something that cues you that it’s getting to be bedtime is really useful. For me, one cue is that I turn off the overhead lights and just turn on our bedside lights. That quiet darker room helps my brain know it’s getting time to go to sleep.
- Consider a sound machine. I am the BIGGEST believer in a sound machine and we sleep with one every night. I can still absolutely hear my kids, but it’s an incredible cue for my brain that it’s time to sleep and stop me from being woken up by every creak in the floor or car driving past. This is the one we have.
- Be honest about how much sleep you need. I’d LOVE to be someone who only needed 4 hours of sleep a night, but that’s just not how my body functions. I really need a consistent 7.5-8 hours a night to feel good. Once you know how much sleep your body really requires, you can plan for how to get that much.
- Avoid “fake fun.” When I talked about getting enough sleep on InstaStories a few weeks ago and asked about hurdles, one of the biggest thing was moms who couldn’t give up that precious alone time when their kids were asleep. And as an enormous introvert, I 100% get that. But reading The Power of Fun has reminded that it’s easy to use that time on “fake fun” (endless scrolling or binge watching) which makes you feel temporarily like you’re getting a break but really saps your energy, makes you more tired the next day because you stayed up too late and doesn’t give you a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment, so then you get stuck in a loop of feeling more exhausted during the day which makes you desperate for more alone time after the kids are in bed so you participate in MORE fake fun, without ever feeling truly refreshed or energized. All of which is to say, if you need alone/couple time in the evening (and most of us parents do!) make sure to prioritize at least some of the time activities and hobbies that will recharge you.
- Take a nap when you need it. I am the biggest believer in naps. When I’m pregnant or when I have a young baby especially, I take a nap nearly every day (usually 20-60 minutes) and any time I get a bad night’s sleep, I try to catch up with a nap. I always aim for a nap as early in the day as I can so it doesn’t mess up my night sleep and I’ll set my kids up with an audiobook and some coloring or something to keep them entertained while I nap. They’ve all learned quickly that a nap for me benefits EVERYONE in the family.
- Try not to go too far off your normal bedtime on the weekends. It can be so easy to stay up way too late on the weekends and then it’s hard to go to sleep on time on Sunday night. I sleep in on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but I try to have that as a time to get any extra sleep my body needs, rather than shifting my whole sleep schedule by 2-3 hours.
- Frame sleep as a treat or luxury instead of a chore. It’s so easy to feel like going to bed early is the biggest drag ever and keeping you from having fun. For me, it helps to reframe sleep as a true treat or luxury. I love thinking of sleep as one of the greatest gifts I can give my body and remembering how much I love being well-rested and feeling energetic and happy the next morning. That reframe makes me much more likely to go to bed on time – especially on the weekends.
Any other tips for how to go to sleep at a reasonable time? I’d love to hear!
If you liked this post about how to go to sleep, you might like these posts:
- The best pajamas for women
- A Trick that Makes My Night Time Routine WAY Easier
- A Trick for New Year’s Resolutions I Learned from My Mom
Janette H. says
Do you happen to know which journal the author refers to in “The Power of Fun”? Her friend has it and there’s a morning and evening reflection. I tried to Google and I’m coming up short. (I’m listening to the audio book which makes it a little more difficult.) I struggle to prioritize sleep and that’s something I’d like to improve this year!
Janssen Bradshaw says
It’s called Goal Crazy!
I love this list. I have always struggled to nap but I decided to view it as a skill and told myself the more I practice the better I will get. And it’s getting easier! Honestly the biggest hurdle for me is that my husband is a night owl and I am not. It’s been tricky to balance spending time with him in the evenings and my desire to go to bed. Still figuring out the right balance to meet both of our needs/wants for connection time and sleep.
Love this! I’m definitely in the fake fun trap. I’ve also noticed that getting a couple hours of sleep in BEFORE midnight helps me feel so much better the next day. Not sure what that’s about, but if I get a good 7 hours, but went to bed at midnight, I’ll still feel sluggish the next day.