Bedtime Routines and Why I Quit Mine!
I don't know if this is common for those who experience insomnia, but I hate nighttime routines.
In my 20s, I felt that the sleepless nights of my teen years were meant to be over. Having an evening routine would transform me into an adult who slept from 10 PM to 6 AM like the rest of the world, to wake bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with the rest of the world.
The evolution of my bedtime routine
My bedtime routine started with white noise. The sound of a fan running was so soothing that even when the months turned to winter, my fan stayed bedside. Then it was my favourite TV series glowing in the background all night. The familiarity was like a child's blanket.
There were the hour-long hot baths and showers before bed to rinse away the worries and smooth the aches and pains in my joints, the weighted blanket that could keep me from tossing and tuning, and my favourite album on repeat in the noise-canceling headphones. Then there was a period where alcohol stepped in. And then prescription drugs and eventually an overdose, then back to beach waves and guided meditation.
Slowly letting go of routine
Each night I desperately wanted to get the sleep I needed. Yet every night, no matter how many tools or what routines I introduced, I was still left wide awake and feeling like a failure. I was mentally drained. And that's when I started to let go.
Only a little at first, starting with eliminating bedtime. If I didn't have a bedtime goal, I couldn't disappoint myself. I gave myself a bit of a break when it came to expectations – no routine, no expectations, fewer problems. But it didn't start out so easily.
Insomnia makes us feel less in control
Of course, we all want and strive for routine. It's what makes us comfortable and safe. Our minds are so clever, and sometimes they need the space to roam, even when it's not convenient. Most of us know ideally how much sleep we need, and when insomnia steps in between that and wakes time, anxiety goes into overdrive and we feel even less in control.
Listening to our bodies
I try to treat my sleep as something separate from me. Instead of having a nighttime routine, I've created a lifestyle that works around my sleep! I can't force myself to sleep. I can include it as a part of my whole day, dimming all the lights at 5 PM, setting out candles as an evening ritual, having foods that won't spike my energy or sugar levels, or taking a nap during the day if I need to.
Our bodies speak to us each day. We have to be open to listening. Have you struggled with routines? If so, you are not alone!
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