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5 Ways to Build a Better Atmosphere for Sleep

When I was a little kid, I would wake up and would struggle to fall back asleep. Instead of closing my eyes and counting sheep, I would lie awake for hours and often would wander the house because I was bored. My mom would try to keep me in my room by installing the child gate, but I was too smart to let that stop me. My garbage pail was relatively sturdy and I knew that I could turn it over and use it as a stepping stool over the gate. As I got older, if I couldn’t fall asleep, I would read a book. Some nights, not even that would help.

As most teens did, I had a television in my room and so on the nights that I couldn’t fall asleep or fall back to sleep, I would find something to watch in the hopes of falling back to sleep. I took this bad habit with me into college and my early twenties.

At the start of the pandemic, my sleep was worsening, not only from work stress but also from the fear of this disease. Lockdown and all of the unknown variables impacted not only my mental health but my physical health because I wasn’t sleeping properly. I was waking up at odd hours and then staying awake, feeling sluggish during the day, or not sleeping at all and watching television too late at night. I knew then that I needed to find ways to promote a healthier sleeping environment inside my bedroom.

1. Put the alarm clock and cell phone across the room

My iHome doubles as my cell phone charger and having it on my nightstand was detrimental to my sleep. The second that I felt even mildly awake, I would pick up the phone and doomsday scroll through Instagram. NOT ideal for getting quality sleep!

By placing the alarm clock and my phone further from my bed, I allow my brain the time needed to wind down before sleeping. This also forces me to physically have to leave my bed every morning when the alarm sounds.

I’ve linked my alarm clock here . It has a full color-light therapy array (I tend to sleep with that off), sleep sound options, and two alarm settings.

2. Make my bed every morning

You might be asking yourself “How does making your bed promote better sleep?” Well, for me I find that making my bed as soon as I wake up acts as a wake-up task as well as a wind-down task. Making the bed gets my brain moving and has become a part of my daily routine. Then, at night, the un-making the bed process helps to prepare your brain for sleep. As you move around your room, adjusting pillows and blankets your body begins to feel like it just wants to relax. By the time I lay down, I’m ready to just close my eyes and sleep.

Since many of us are still working from home, we are more likely to use lunch breaks and other periods of downtime for naps, which can really mess up our sleep patterns. By making my bed, I am less likely to spend time napping during productive daytime hours.

3. Sleep to (flameless) candlelight

Last spring, I became obsessed with having a morning Yoga routine. So I went to Target’s website and purchased myself four vanilla scented, battery operated candles that I felt would help create just the right relaxing atmosphere. I placed one in each of the four corners of my room (not photographed here) and they would act as my light for my early morning Yoga/Meditation sessions. They operate on an internal timer and are typical already off by the time I wake up at seven o’clock.

The candle set in the photograph, while unscented, are remote controlled. They also make a faint crackling sound while they are on which I love because it sounds like I am falling asleep near a fireplace. Currently, I have a total of eight candles throughout my bedroom and with the ones along my headboard I have enough light to read to before bed. Once I am ready to sleep, I use the remote to dim them slightly.

Here are the ones that I got from Target. The exact set that I have is sold out currently, but they have similar ones listed. The remote controlled ones are linked here.

4. Everyone loves a Himalayan Rock Salt lamp

A friend gifted this to me a few years ago and I never took the time to set it up, until I read this 2018 article about claims made in regards to health improvements. I will link the article here because I think it’s an interesting read, even though they determine that these claims are unproven for the most part. I am a firm believer that there are some parts of our mental and emotional health that only we can feel and change and that science can’t see those results, but that’s me.

For me, the glow of the lamp helps me feel more relaxed and brings my body to a much calmer state. If you can’t fall asleep in total darkness, like I can’t unless I am sick, then this lamp might help because a dimmer light is better for you than those brighter white night lights.

5. Have your dream journal on hand

This is a newer addition to my bedtime/sleeping habits. I bought a dream journal at the start of the new year. I keep the notebook and a pen inside of that black standing shelf that you saw in the other photo, along with other personal growth self-guided journals that I own. Mine is the Wander Dream Journal from Baron Fig ($24 – SOLD OUT currently). However, you can really just use any notebook to write down your dreams. For me, I need something guided.

The first section is your dream recall – write down anything you can remember. The next section is a visualization section – what did the dream look like? Some people see a scene and some just see colors with sound. The mind is a most intriguing place. The final space allows for interpretation of your dream. Some dreams are obvious but others show us things that are signs or signals that we need to try and understand.

I don’t always remember my dreams, but when I wake up in the middle of the night, I grab my journal and write down what I can remember and it really helps me fall back to sleep.

Since I began incorporating these products into my sleep life, I have felt happier, more well rested, and more energized during the day. It has majorly helped me to stay positive during my time of unemployment because the last thing I want is to let my depressive symptoms control my wellness. This is a small list of things that you can do to help improve both of the quality of your sleep and help to establish healthy bedtime habits. I find that my daytime hours are far more productive when I follow these steps than when I don’t. It takes 21 days to create a new habit and 60 days to make it part of your routine. My favorite part about the candles is that I don’t have to think about remembering to turn them on before bed or turning them off in the morning because they all have a timer. No excuses!

Try different things! Find out what works for you and do it! Sleep is so important, especially right now. This is the perfect time for experimentation, especially if you work from your home.

Let me know if you try any of the suggestions that I made above. I can’t wait to hear if any of them work for you! As always, I am here if you have a question for me about anything!

Be Kind. Stay Strong. Love Yourself!

XOXO.

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