I, like many people during 2020, have really struggled with sleep. Working from my studio apartment transformed my bedroom into my every room: kitchen, office, gym – you name it. My once peaceful haven of “OOO” serenity was transformed into a workplace, whether professional or physical, making the “shut down” part of my evening a real obstacle.
There weren’t enough candles in the world that could shift the energy of the space, and at night, my body resisted sleep despite my extreme exhaustion.I’m no stranger to occasional insomnia, but something about 2020 sleep hit differently. It was consistently disrupted, whether it was poorly timed construction sounds outside, temperature regulation issues, one too many post-work glasses of wine, or the need to get that inbox to zero before closing my eyes. Tossing and turning became the norm and worse, I’d accepted defeat (cue the 2am social media scrolling.)
Eventually, I’d had enough, and something inside me clicked. I decided that I needed to be as committed to a sleep routine as I am with skincare (and let me tell you, that’s very serious). To start, I committed to shutting down my laptop when I was finished working for the day. Granted, I still had access to my e-mail via phone in case I needed to hop back online, but this symbolic shut down gesture started to signal to my brain that the work day was complete, and my energy could be shifted elsewhere.
Next, rather than instinctively reach for a cocktail to separate “work” and “personal” time, I opted for some fresh air instead… no matter how chilly it was outside. Even if it was simply a walk to the corner and back, breathing in the outdoors rejuvenated my spirit, not unlike a yogic “cleansing breath.” The outdoors has a way of revitalizing the mind and getting you out of your head, and allows you to recognize that there’s a whole world beyond the stresses of the work day.
Back inside, it’s time to eat. For dinner, rather than mindlessly ordering in (another pandemic habit), I decided to cook up vegetable-rich meals for myself while listening to a podcast. Aside from being healthier for my physical body, I found my mind benefitted even more: my brain stayed active, my hands busy, and my spirits so much higher than they would have been if I’d returned to my Dawson’s Creek binge.
After eating, I turned to shifting the energy of my bedroom. Office by day with the lights on, dimmed ambience by night for reading and relaxation (my preferred R & R). I’ve started being more conscious of minimizing screen time… unless there’s something I’m desperate to watch. Instead, I now catch up with friends (remember phone calls?), journal, and try to complete a comprehensive evening stretch routine that ends with my legs up the wall (a serious digestion aid).
Once I’ve effectively eased my mind and done away with as much tension in my body as possible, I put my new Bose Sleepbuds in, and close my eyes. I’d found these tiny wireless silicone earbuds in my sleep research, and decided they were something I had to try in my new routine. The sounds outside my window are quickly masked, and I use the Bose Sleep App sounds to cue my mind to release itself from the hold of the waking hours. I’ve been choosing the ocean sound “swell” night after night, conditioning myself to associate the sound of waves with the transition to sleep. It has worked spectacularly, it’s as though I’ve discovered a secret off switch in my body and brain through sound, and no longer find myself waking up every hour.