Are you like I was: have a difficult time falling asleep at night because you’re thinking about all the shit you didn’t get done today and/or need to do tomorrow/next week/next month? There’s a fix for that. You’ve probably read all this before but it doesn’t hurt to hammer it into your brain. I have a cast iron frying pan you may borrow, if needed.
Step One: put your cell phone to sleep for the night. This is probably the most important step for many people. If your cell phone is your primary means of communication and you’re worried about missing a call from, say, family members, here’s what I do when I travel (we don’t have cell service at the house): my family are set as “favorites” in my contact list. My ‘Do Not Disturb’ is programmed to be interrupted only by communications from those favorites. Otherwise, the phone stays silent until I get up in the morning and turn that function off.
Step Two: write down all the crap you’re thinking about. Don’t type it into a list on your phone or computer. Use paper and pen/pencil. There’s something about hand-writing things that helps. A lot. The list will be there for you to address tomorrow. (You can transcribe it to an electronic device tomorrow.)
Step Three: take ten or fifteen of those minutes you’d spend tossing and turning and take a warm, not hot, shower or even better, bath. The warm water is going to help relax muscles you’ve unconsciously tensed during the day. (Hot water is not only going to dry out your skin but a lot of people find it invigorating. Not the idea, here.) Use bath salts (if you bathe), a sugar scrub, or soap with herbs/essential oils whose properties are not only calming but whose aroma will make you melt into a pile of goo. My personal favorite is Ylang Ylang, but some other options include:
Avena sativa Oat (also really good for your skin)
Gardenia jasminoides Gardenia
Humulus lupus Hops (not the best aroma but if you’re a beer drinker, this may work)
Jasminum officinale Jasmine
Lavandula angustifolia or L. officinalis Lavender
Melissa officinalis Lemon Balm
Passiflora incarnata Passionflower
Verbena officinalis Vervain
Viola odorata Violet
Sounds pretty mundane, doesn’t it? Yep, this all works on a mundane level. But here comes the magic, even if you don’t believe in magic:
While you’re showering (or if you take a bath, pull the plug while you’re still in the water), envision all those things you’re thinking about going down the drain with the water, where they will rest until you pick up your list in the morning.
Once you’ve dried off from the shower/bath, do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to bed. The room should be cool (not cold) and as dark as you can possibly make it. For some, there is no way to get rid of the glare of city street lights so either buy room-darkening shades or wear a sleep mask. (The mask does take some getting used to but it can be a lifesaver.)
I’ve told this method to a bunch of people over the years and I hear a lot of “I don’t have time for a bath or shower before bed. Work, kids, SO, [insert excuse of your choice] take all my time.” My reply to that is the same as above: if you’re spending time tossing, turning, and thinking before sleep, you’ve got time for a shower.
With all our daily responsibilities, I understand time crunches. But if you’re going to toss and turn anyways, that shower or bath before bed really helps. You may find you’ll sleep more soundly, too.