I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that you didn’t get as much sleep as you’d hoped for last night. Unless you have extraordinary willpower, you’re probably like the rest of us who spend the evening trolling the internet, watching too many episodes of Friends, and getting really salty with yourself when you realize you should have been in bed hours ago.
And if you’re like me, you always wake up in the morning wanting to stay in bed for another 30 minutes and telling yourself, ‘That’s it, I’m going to bed at 9pm tonight.’
Well, 9pm rolls around and somehow you’re STILL watching Friends, working on a blog post, and scrolling through Instagram. Getting to bed at a decent hour just isn’t easy!
But I’ve realized there are some common reasons that keep us up too late, and you’ve most likely experienced all of them and probably even rotate between them.
I’ve laid out each situation with some potential solutions, so choose which one sounds most like you and you’ll be on your way to a glorious night’s sleep!
(I know there are many other reasons you might also have trouble sleeping e.g. you’re emotional, you’re in a new place, it’s noisy, etc., but I figured those are situational reasons, so I’m going to focus on the internal reasons.)
Reason One: You’re Distracted
How many times have you told yourself, ‘Just one more episode‘ when you’re watching Netflix? Yeah, that happens to me with every show. Sometimes I discover a new YouTube channel, and I want to watch every single video ever uploaded. Or I might just be aimlessly clicking around the internet and forget how I even got there.
The best way to avoid these situations is to set an alarm that reminds you to turn off all electronics. I mean, when was the last time you were distracted because you were doing anything other than using electronics? Probably never. Set it for 30 minutes to an hour before you want to go to sleep so you have time to settle down beforehand. Set your alarm right now. Go on, I’ll wait ;) Just remember that all of those episodes, videos, and posts will still be there tomorrow (most likely) and you won’t be missing out on anything.
Try a week of keeping electronics out of your bedroom and see how much easier it becomes to get to bed. Just use a regular alarm clock instead of your iPhone alarm.
If your alarm goes off and you find yourself ignoring it, try a distraction blocker like Freedom. Ultimately it comes down to willpower and remembering that you’ll get way more out of a good night’s sleep than you will out of all of those tabs you have open on your computer.
Reason Two: You’re Anxious, Stressed, or Worried
You have way too many thoughts racing around your head. Maybe you have something stressful coming up, or perhaps something didn’t go as you had planned, so you keep thinking about what you could have done differently. A lot of times, we try to distract ourselves (see Step One above) to make time go by quicker, but end up worrying ourselves even more.
Write all of your thoughts down on a piece of paper so they’re not swirling around in your head. If you don’t let them out somewhere, they just accumulate and make it harder to fall asleep. Make it part of your bedtime ritual to do a brain-dump onto a notebook you keep by your bed.
Give yourself time to actually relax before bed – that way, your head won’t hit the pillow full of these thoughts. Aside from the usual reading a book option, a bath is incredibly relaxing if you’re feeling particularly anxious – just don’t bring any electronics in there to distract you (or accidentally drop in the tub). If you’re one of those people who can’t sit still for five minutes, try doing a little bedtime yoga instead. Meditation is also a great tool to give your head a little peace and quiet before bedtime. Try using Headspace or Calm to focus on your breath for 10 minutes.
If you’re thinking about something that you have control over and actually needs an action on your part (apologizing to a friend, talking to your boss about an extension), write down 3 action steps you can take the next day. If it’s something you no longer have control over (something that happened a long time ago, an embarrassing moment), the only thing you can do is to accept that it happened and that you’ve learned something from the experience. Focus on the present moment because that’s all we’re ever guaranteed to have.
Reason Three: You’re Inspired or Have A Deadline
You’ve come up with this epic idea for a new blog post or project, and you don’t want to forget any ideas so you keep working into the wee hours of the night. Or maybe you’re trying to meet a deadline, so you need to keep working until it’s complete.
Start making yourself an after-work to-do list. Most of us work 9-5 and have a list of everything we need to get done in those 8 hours, but what about the things we still need to do at home afterward? Before you leave work, put together a list of 3-5 things that need to get done before you go to bed. Maybe it’s working on a blog post (set yourself a time limit), vacuuming, and packing your lunch for the next day. This way you won’t keep pushing your bedtime back.
Give yourself 30 minutes (set an alarm) to get as much done as you can, then write down what you accomplished and where you stopped. Then write 3 next-steps to continue the project for tomorrow. Sometimes you just have to give it a rest and force yourself to stop working.
If this doesn’t happen too often, this is one of those things you might not want to fight. After all, it’s not every day you find yourself so inspired that you can’t stop working. Just make sure that you write down all of your ideas as they come to you, rather than telling yourself you’ll remember them (you won’t).
The #1 Thing That’ll Get You More Sleep
…is creating a bedtime routine and sticking to it!
I see so many blog posts and videos about morning routines, but I rarely see them about night routines. I think as a society we’ve come to believe that going to bed early is for grandmas and staying up late is what the cool kids do. And if that’s your thing, you do you. But I truly appreciate a good night’s sleep and if that means going to bed at 9:30 pm, that’s what I’ll do.
One way to avoid staying up too late is to stick to a night routine. You probably already have a few things you do every single night on autopilot, but I’m sure you have things you wish you had time for as well. That’s why I’ve put together this night routine printable for you to come up with your ideal routine!
There’s room for you to list up to 7 steps you want to include in your routine. For example, here’s what my ideal routine would look like:
- Go for a walk
- Work on my blog for an hour
- Watch a few episodes of a TV show
- Have a lil’ snack and some tea
- Write tomorrow’s to-do list
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Read for 30 minutes
Next, write down your ideal bedtime (and make sure you set your alarm to turn off electronics 30 minutes to an hour before). There are also boxes at the bottom of the worksheet with the days of the week for you to check off every time you complete your ideal routine!