INSOMNIA

Your Morning Starts in the Evening

It’s next to impossible to wake up early and make it a daily habit if you’re constantly going to bed late every single night. There’s always some work to finish, calls to make, that TV show you can’t help but binge-watch until 2 am every night. Ask yourself, how do you feel when you wake up every morning in a panic and you have to rush through your morning routine? Barely brushing your teeth, hopping in and out of the shower in two minutes, getting dressed, scoffing down your breakfast, and gulping your coffee at every traffic signal as you drive to work – —sound familiar? To call it undesirable and unpleasant would be an understatement. Every cycle of this brings the same thought to mind –“I should have gone to bed earlier’ or ‘I’m going to wake up early from tomorrow.’ Come evening, once you’re back from work, all those resolutions are out the window as you continue scrolling down your Instagram and Facebook feed and watching one YouTube video after another, or finishing work and checking emails until late at night. If these acts and habits were limited to the time that we experience them, it would be all right and no problem. But the problem is that it is not just temporary hiccups of the day that permeate into how your day goes and how productive you are and, if continued for a long time, end up affecting the life you live.  So, logically looking at it, altering a few things with a little bit of effort has the power to change the way you live your life into a healthier and more well-rounded one. 

The idea is not to get overwhelmed by the process; rather, take things slowly, one at a time. If you take up more than you should, you’re setting yourself up for failure, which will end up frustrating you and, before you know it, you’ll be back to your old routine. It’s important that you give yourself a fair amount of time, maybe even weeks, to figure out the routine that best works for you. 

Where do you start? With an evening routine! Having a good routine in the latter half of the day gives you the right base to have a perfect morning. 

Have a Non-Negotiable Wind-down Time

I’m just going to say it – this is the most important step of all in your night-time routine. This is going to require a whole lot of willpower and resolve every single day until it becomes a natural part of your routine.  But until then, get prepared for the struggle, especially if you have a habit of putting off sleep until your eyes are bloodshot and your limbs start giving up by 33 in the morning, and you just know that you can’t put off sleep for a minute longer. 

So, what exactly is wind- down time? It’s time you spend before bedtime, indulging in low-key activities to help slow you down for the day and get you relaxed, to get the best sleep. First, you need to figure out your wind- down time. Depending on what time you plan to wake up the next morning, and how many hours you need to sleep to function properly throughout the day, keep a bedtime in mind. The hour before your bedtime is when your bedtime starts. So let’s say you need to wake up at 6 am, and you need 7 seven hours of sleep. That means you need to sleep at 11 pm, which makes your wind- down time 10 pm. 

Set up a reminder or an alarm for 10 ten minutes before your wind-down time, so that the moment it rings, you have 10 ten minutes to start… winding down! So that means, whether you are on your laptop finishing work or writing emails, on your iPad watching a TV show, or are listening to hair-splittingly loud music, you have ten more minutes left to do so. After this, your entire time needs to be dedicated to slowly and consciously getting yourself ready for bed. That could mean getting into your pyjamas, brushing your teeth, dimming the lights in your bedroom, shutting off all electronics, taking your meds… you get the drill. No matter how much work you have left or how interesting that TV show looks, the moment your reminder chimes, you must stop.  This step is vital and non-negotiable to sleep on time and wake up fresh the next day. 

Design the Perfect Night Time Routine

Just like the way you have a set of activities you do when you wake up every morning, create one for yourself to follow every night as well. You don’t have to be too stringent about what the activities are, as long as they nudge you into slowing down and get your mind and body to start relaxing. Your metabolic rate has already slowed down by the time the sun sets, so you have to consciously adapt your routine according to the natural cycles of the body. Having the right kind of routine not only makes sure you sleep on time (and as a result, wake up on time), but it also makes sure you get good quality sleep so that you’re not tired and groggy the next morning. Here are some things you can include in your routine:

Read a Book: 

Pick up any book apart from a thriller, and sit back comfortably in your bed as you flip through page after page. If reading is the very last thing you are doing, I’d suggest putting an alarm (if you’re not sick of them already) at your bedtime, as a gentle reminder to put the bookmark in and shut the book.

Meditate: 

Meditation helps bring down the chatter in your mind and, thus, is a great way to end the night. Sit in a dimly lit room in a cross-legged position, with your palms on your thighs (facing upwards); turn your head up slightly, and bring your focus mildly in between your eyebrows, and focus concentrate on your breathing for 10 ten minutes, not paying attention to anything that’s going on in your mind and body.

Drink Turmeric Milk: 

Warm milk is a well-known remedy for curing insomnia, actively used in the Indian subcontinent. Warm milk increases serotonin and melatonin, which, combined with the superpowers of turmeric, help bring a deep sense of calm and relaxation to the body. Warm a glass of milk with turmeric, add some pepper and a spoonful of honey to it, and have it an hour before bed.

Take a Warm Shower: 

It doesn’t need to be an elaborate shower, o. Only 5 five minutes will do. Coming out of a warm bath or shower into a cooler room signals your body that it’s time to hit the sack, thus slowing down essential metabolic functions like heart rate, breathing, and digestion.

Lavender Spray: 

Lavender is widely known to help with nervousness, anxiety, and stress. You can make your lavender spray at home, and spray it on your pillow and sheet during bedtime. Just combine all the ingredients below, and pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and keep it on your bed table.

  • Small glass spray bottle
  • 1 One cup of distilled water
  • 10 Ten to 12 twelve drops of essential oil, (lavender works best)
  • One tablespoon of rubbing alcohol or vodka

Put Away the Electronics: 

You’ve heard this repeatedly, and you’re going to hear it again. All electronic items like your smartphone, laptop, television, and notepad emit blue light, which has been scientifically proven to negatively affect the levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Regular usage of these items over regularly can shift the body’s natural clock, which in the long run can have devastating effects on your health in the long run. So, put away those phones (after enabling your alarm), shut down your computers, and switch off the TV at least an hour before you go to sleep. And as long as you’re doing that, consider dimming your lights in the last hour of the day too.

Plan the Next Day

Most successful people will tell you that a major part of their success lies in getting organised. And this is what this step is about to get organised for the day to come. Keep a journal beside your bed, and write down your schedule right from the moment you wake up until your dinnertime. The idea is not to be overly obsessive and over-analytical but to roughly chalk out your day so that you can make the best use of your time and have more success in following your routine the day after.

No one has to read your diary, so you can be as detailed as you want to be – wake up at 6 am, meditation from 6.30 to 7, exercise from 7 to 8, shower and dress up 8 – 8.45, breakfast by 9, start work by 10, lunch break at 1 pm, meeting from 3 – 4 pm, leave from work at 6, dinner at 7. Try doing this with as much detail as possible for about a week, until you only need to put the important entries in your diary. Knowing exactly what you need to do after every step gives you less opportunity to remain confused in the morning. When you have your mornings laid out in proper order, you can go from one task to the next without creating friction and minimum effort.

Another thing you can do is to write down your to-do list for the day and circle of the two most important tasks from your list. Doing this on the previous night will help you wake up with a clear head and a proper indication of the kind of pace you need to be ready for during the day. Circling the two important tasks for the next day is a good way to know which tasks you need to give priority to prioritise. Even if you don’t get everything done on your list but have managed to complete the two most important ones, you can call it a successful day.

Declutter

Do you ever wonder why the beds in hotel rooms look so inviting? You immediately want to jump on the bed into the fluffy mattress and slide under the blankets and doze off. While those uber soft mattresses may have a part to play, it is the immaculate manner in which the room and the bed are kept that draws you in. The same can be applied to your room. Going on about your day, you may tend not to pay too much attention to what goes where. But that is exactly what you should not ignore after your dinner is made. Having clutter around is not just a physical thing but has mental connotations as well. Have you noticed how good you feel after you’ve properly arranged your cupboard, especially after it looked like a tornado had hit it? Post organising, it feels as if not only your cupboard has got cleared up, but your mind too has received a good cleansing. 

This act of decluttering the space where you sleep not only creates the right atmosphere but is instantly therapeutic in a way. You can start off by putting away gadgets and cutlery in their respective places, folding the clothes and stowing them back into your cupboard, keeping a bottle of water beside your bed, arranging the blanket at the foot of your bed, stacking away your skincare items, amongst other things. These mundane activities can take your mind off of whatever you’re preoccupied with and take a step further into relaxation.

The Gratitude List

The Quantum Evolve

 NLP Consultancy, specialising in Smoking and Substance Abuse and  advocates of general Mental Health & Wellbeing.