PUTTING MY PHONE TO BED AND OTHER NIGHTTIME RITUALS FOR HAPPINESS
I've struggled with establishing a morning routine. About 4 years ago, I could get up a 5 in the morning without a problem but then one day, I couldn't anymore. I've struggled ever since. Every book, article, and advice about being happier and successful seems to state that a strong morning routine is a key and for some reason, I couldn't get it together. I LOVE to sleep but I also adore waking up early and getting a lot of things done, so I've been baffled at myself and my inability to ease into a morning routine that works for me.
And that's when I discovered an article that shifted a few things. The article? "I Made a 'Bed' for My Phone, and I've Never Slept Better" from SELF Magazine. In the article, the author creates a phone for her bed and discovers that it helps her sleep better. I found it intriguing but didn't run right out and buy or make a bed for my phone. Instead, I waited until a week or so later, when my husband mentioned wanting to spend less time on our phones and more time reading before falling asleep. I love to read but knew that book reading before bed wasn't going to happen as long as I had my phone nearby. So I decided to try putting my phone to bed... and it's changed my nighttime routine and given me better sleep, greatly improved my mornings, and made me happier overall. In fact, it has shaped an entire series of nighttime rituals that have helped me be happier. So if you struggle with a morning routine, try starting with one of these rituals in a night routine instead and watch how it makes a difference in your sleep quality, your ability to wake up without feeling tired, and the following day.
Put your phone to bed.
Every night, before I crawl into bed, I put my phone in its bed, across the room, next to my alarm clock. Its bed is nothing fancy, just a small jewelry travel bag that happens to be the perfect size for my phone to be a snug fit. I've found that once I've put my phone to bed, my mind seems to clear and I feel excited to lay down. Before, I would get into bed and play on my phone, read articles, or watch political news for an hour or longer until I was emotionally exhausted but unable to stop scrolling. Now, I just crawl into bed, blissfully excited for the sleep that it about to come. Did I tell you I LOVE sleep?
The most difficult part of not having my phone nearby? An idea pops into my head to look something up and my phone is not next to the bed. But then I realize that I don't really need to look that up and I can let the thought go and focus on falling into a restful sleep. I would strongly suggest putting your phone to bed in a place where it is difficult or cumbersome to pull it back out (across the room, in a tight bag, out of sight). Otherwise, the habit to reach for it won't go away.
Write a to-do list for the next morning.
Like putting my phone to bed, writing a to-do list for the next day is a game changer. Without my phone to distract me, I start to think of all the things I need to do the next day. Then I focus all my energy on not forgetting what I need to do instead of easily falling asleep. In the past, I would have just typed a list on my phone and then gone habitually begun scrolling through articles and updates for another hour. With my phone out of sight, that wasn't an option and it let's face it, it wasn't doing me any good before either. So I decided to write out a morning list. Right now the list is on a Little Mermaid pad of paper and I list out the things I need to do the next day, the priorities. I never list more than 7 things and I can easily fall asleep knowing I won't forget the important to-dos.
Bonus: when I wake up, I don't immediately get overwhelmed trying to recall everything I need to do that day. I don't feel like I want to snooze and delay the start of my day as much as possible. I wake up feeling rather empowered and energized, ready to tackle my handy list.
Take a bath/sit in the shower.
When I can, I do this about an hour before I put my phone to bed or write up my list. Taking a bath (or since I don't have a bath, sitting in the shower) is my way of winding down for the day. It de-stresses me and frankly, going to bed feeling nice and clean is a good feeling. Studies indicate that taking a warm bath an hour or two before bed can prep your body for a more restful night.
Smile and take deep breaths.
After the bath has been taken, the list made and the phone put away, I like to crawl into bed and smile. Doing those things first definitely helps with the smiling, but even if I have to force it at first, I find that it helps me go to bed happy. Then I take several slow deep breaths, close my eyes, and fall to sleep. Sometimes it is that easy and other times it's not but when I do all four nighttime rituals, sleep and consequently an amazing morning, easily follow.
As with morning routines, having a nighttime routine can feel like just one more set of things to do in your day. A few more tasks to try to fit into your already busy schedule. With the exception of a longer bath, each of these takes three minutes or less but my recommendation is to try only one of these rituals at the start and see if it makes a difference for you. I'd love to hear about your nighttime rituals and how they make a big difference in your life. Share your rituals or routines in the comments on Facebook and Instagram.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop