For years I’ve struggled with getting to bed on time and I’ve seen many clients do the same. Our active minds don’t want to release the day, and thus we find ourselves caught in thought unable or unwilling to rest.
Still I’ve known just as many people who struggle to wake up. Sleep seems to offer a refuge from the world, and so they hit snooze, roll over, and bask in the plains of slumber.
Sleep is an essential aspect of life. When you sleep, your mind processes everything you’ve learned that day and connects it with the vast store of data in your brain. If you’re trying to learn something new or gain greater clarity, it’s within the realm of sleep that the brain solves deep problems and looks for novel solutions.
Yet despite its importance many of us have a disordered relationship with sleep. We feel like we can never get enough or we feel like we can never rip ourselves from it’s grasp or a combination of the two.
Much like the breath, the power of sleep lies at the intersection of conscious and unconscious desire and thus becomes a playground for the many pulls and snags with in us.
So, what’s the solution to the quandary of sleep?
One simple practice has a powerful effect on your ability to fall asleep on time and wake up early: a bedtime or morning ritual.
When your body is tired either from a long day or from an early morning, your capacity to exert willpower is very limited, and it becomes difficult to force yourself into or out of bed.
But by having a ritual, willpower ceases to be an issue. Instead of willing yourself to get into or out of bed, you just start the ritual and let it carry you along.
So the challenge today is all about creating a simple ritual that will help you end your day with ease or rise with vigor.
Challenge #14 – Sleep Skills
1. Practice –
First you must decide whether your number one trouble is getting to bed on time/getting to sleep or waking up on time/morning motivation. So take a minute, figure it out, and the choose your practice accordingly.
Creating a Bedtime Ritual
Step 1: Envision – The best way to create a bedtime ritual is to think about what you do when you have lots of time to go to bed. Close your eyes and imagine the steps walking backwards from sleep.
For me it looks like this
- Turn off lights
- Set my alarm
- Brush Teeth
- Read in bed
- Put desk in order
- Feed cat
- Review my day
- Enter any missed tracking time
Step 2: Order and Sort – Next reverse the order of these items. As you do this, try to notice anything you can get rid of.
For example I used to check email after I reviewed my day. But when I did that, I answered email, which wasn’t that helpful. So I took email out of the routine.
Step 3: Calculate – After that you need to figure out how long it will take to do everything.
For example, it takes me maybe 90 minutes to do everything on my list because I like to read for a while. So if I wanted to get into bed by 10 p.m. I needed to start by feeding the cat at 8:30pm. If your start time is too early, then eliminate some items.
Step 4: Solidify – Finally, create a physical bedtime checklist and set an alarm. Then when your alarm goes off you begin the ritual.
Creating a Morning Ritual
Step 1: Envision – To create a morning ritual imagine how an amazing morning would start for you.
Close your eyes and imagine the steps walking backwards from when you leave for work or start your day.
My list would look like this:
- Set intentions for the day
- Write my gratitudes
- Write my vows
- Make Coffee
- Wake up
Step 2: Order and Sort – Then take your list and reverse it to get your ritual. If you see anything you don’t need get rid of it.
Step 3: Calculate – Figure out how long it will take to do it all and set your wake up time. For example, my morning ritual takes me about an hour because I like to meditate longer if I can. If the wake up time is too early, either simplify your list or go to bed earlier.
Step 4: Solidify – Finally create a physical checklist and set your alarm. Then when you wake up in the morning check each item off as you do it.
No matter which practice you choose, remember your lists will always be a work in progress. Try one routine for a few days and then change it based on your experience.
2. Reflect –
If you can, try the practice in real life at least one time before you do your reflection. If you were able to do this, then reflect on what that experience was like.
- How did your list work?
- What did you like doing?
- What was hard to do?
- Did this make waking up/going to bed easier or harder?
If trying the exercise won’t work right now, then just reflect on the ritual you created.
- Is it something you would want to try?
- What if any resistance do you feel?
- Have you tried anything like this in the past?
3. Share –
As always please share your experience
1. Blog – Write a post about your ritual and what you learned from it. How did it affect your ability to wake up or go to sleep? What do you think would happen if you did it for a week? a month?
2. Post – Share one aspect of your ritual or any lesson you learned on social media with #30dayhappy or by posting in our Facebook Group.
3. Comment – Let me know what you thought of this challenge in the comments. Let me know if you struggled with anything or had any questions.