Microdose #001: Create an End of Day Ritual (in just 20 minutes)
Set yourself up for a great night’s sleep and a productive tomorrow
BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front):
Life is chaotic. More than a third of Americans do not get enough sleep. Creating a wellness-focused evening routine can improve sleep quality while reducing anxiety. Invest just 20 minutes nightly, to implement a simple end of day ritual that accomplishes the following:
- Promotes self-reflection and mindfulness
- Encourages relaxation and restorative sleep
- Nourishes your skin, so you wake up looking (and feeling) your best
See The Plan below for a simple and effective nightly self-care routine.
Poor sleep has a direct negative impact on mood and thinking ability, and has been linked to a wide spectrum of maladies that impact overall health and subjective wellbeing. What’s more, irregular sleep patterns hurt our metabolism, further compounding the negative impacts of sleep debt. It was previously thought that missed sleep could be “made up for” on the weekends, but new research is proving this to be untrue.
On a more philosophical level, simply allowing our days to run out, unexamined, perhaps to the din of old sitcoms in the background, as we fade out of consciousness, prevents us from taking time for self-reflection, stunts our personal growth, and robs us of an opportunity to invest in a better tomorrow.
Effects of poor sleep:
- Sleep deprivation leads to impaired cognitive function and increased risk taking in adolescents:
- “The National Sleep Foundation estimates that poor sleep costs America billions of dollars each year and greatly compromises public safety and health.”
- Weekend recovery sleep does not appear to be an effective countermeasure" for reversing the negative effects of sleep loss on the body's metabolism. In fact, sleep was disturbed even more in the weekend recovery group when they went back to the restricted sleep pattern.
Benefits of an end of day routine:
- “The therapeutic approach in insomnia should be multidimensional, reducing the overall emotional and physiologic hyperarousal and its underlying factors present throughout the 24-h sleep/wake period.”
- Consistent nighttime routines result in a significant reduction in problematic sleep patterns in young children,
- Mindfulness practices have been shown clinically to decrease total mood disturbance, including stress, anxiety and fatigue.
- A warm shower or bath can help you to fall asleep.
Determine a consistent bedtime:
Working backwards from your earliest typical wake up time in the week, determine a bedtime that will allow for a minimum of 7.5 hours of sleep, assuming it will take you approximately 15 minutes to fall asleep. (For example, if you have to wake up at 7:30 am to be ready on time for a team meeting every Tuesday, consider that your daily wake up time, and subtract 7 hours and 45 minutes. This means that you should go to bed no later than 11:45 pm every night.)
A note on sleep aids: while popular, most commercially available Melatonin supplements contain fairly large doses of this powerful hormone. Though generally considered safe, we do not recommend Melatonin supplementation without consulting your doctor.
[Pre-routine] 1 hour before bedtime:
- Turn off the television and stop using your phone. If possible, connect your phone to a charger that is located outside of your bedroom.
- Use the next 30 minutes to either read, listen to soft ambient music, or do some light tidying.
[The Routine] 30 minutes before bedtime:
- Transform your bathroom into a tranquil and pleasant sanctuary. Light a candle (lavender scents are particularly helpful for sleep, though any aroma you find pleasant is perfect), play some light music, close the door and ask for uninterrupted privacy. While this may feel a bit self-indulgent, you’re setting the stage to take a few moments that are just for you, which is a healthy act. What this looks like is entirely up to you, it just needs to be intentional.
- As your bath is filling, or your shower is coming to temperature, ask yourself these two questions:
- Which moment from today would you wish to appear in your biography? What would that moment tell others about the person that you choose to be?
- Thinking only of today’s events, what are you most grateful for?
- Enjoy a warm shower or bath. The change in body temperature can help you to fall asleep. Make note of how the water feels on each part of your body, paying attention to one area at a time as you scan your attention from the bottoms of your feet to the top of your head, and back down. Make note of any tension you are carrying, then move on. The objective of this exercise is to build the habit of listening to your body, not necessarily to fix anything.
- Once you’re done bathing, complete your skincare routine by applying an overnight oil that replenishes your skin’s hydration and combats the signs of aging. We designed Grüner’s Evening Ritual Oil for this exact purpose. In one luxurious application, you’ll make a scientifically-backed investment in both your appearance and the health of your skin. By applying an overnight oil, you’re making an agreement with the you of tomorrow, that they will continue the cycle of self-care, washing off the oil as you greet the day, looking your best.
- Change into a set of comfortable sleeping clothes. While it’s tempting to sleep in a t-shirt and underwear, dedicated sleepwear helps to complete, and elevate, the ritual.
- Finally, set an intention for tomorrow. When you wake up, if you could only do one thing, how would you want that action to make you feel? (If you know what that thing is, that’s great! But focus on the feeling… the state of being.)
Get in bed and drift off to sleep, knowing you’ve taken a moment to invest in yourself.
Alex - I am not one to treat myself. For the most part, my mind tells me that I need to earn any relaxation that I receive. Shifting away from this belief and carving out time for myself in the evenings has enriched my life. I find taking time, our most valuable resource in life, is an empowering endeavor and really feels like an investment in my wellbeing and health.
Frank - I’ve been a problem sleeper for most of my life. A therapist made the connection that this may partially result from the fact that my father died suddenly in the middle of the night when I was a small child. I also suffer from a phenomenon known as revenge bedtime procrastination. The only thing that’s helped has been to build a consistent routine around going to bed, that shifts my perception of bedtime from a burdensome necessity to a joyful act of self-care. Additionally, weight lifting has made me a lot more excited about sleep, since it’s so obviously necessary to make continued progress.