Do you ever have problems getting to sleep – or staying asleep – because you can’t shut down your brain? Do you find yourself ruminating about what you should have done today or what you need to do tomorrow – or on any other similarly inane narrative? Me too!
I went looking for a way to stop that steady flow. Because if I allow even one of those thoughts to bubble up, and if I entertain it for just a moment longer, it latches on causing nighttime chaos. That ensuing panic stimulates the release of the stress hormone, adrenaline, leading to a heightened sense of alertness. And, as you know, it’s impossible to get restful slumber when your brain is switched to full power.
Sudoku Before Slumber
So, here’s my wind down ritual – I do a Sudoku puzzle (always on paper)! Pushing my brain to find numbers to solve a 9 X 9 grid is immensely helpful to turn off the steady flow of thoughts. But, Sudoku isn’t the answer for everyone. In fact, one friend told me that Sudoku creates anxiety, not rest.
More Wind Down Rituals for Bedtime
While interviewing business execs for my third edition of my book, How to Stay Healthy & Fit on the Road, I asked them about their bedtime routines and here’s what they told me:
- Work out to the point of exhaustion. Jeff Mathers, Senior Director, Global Software Engineering said, “I sleep better when I work out very late (10PM) to the point of exhaustion.”
- Do something simple on the computer. Marty Yadrick, Director of Nutrition Informatics at Computrition, Inc. told me that he relaxes by ending the day on the computer with simple tasks like updating quicken, checking his 401K balance, or hopping onto Facebook to connect with friends.
- Read a book. Tammy Preston, VP at Charitable Achievements, likes to relax in bed (without the tv on) by reading a good book for a while before falling asleep.
- Sip some chamomile herbal tea and journal. Jennifer Fisher, Managing Director of Well-being, Deloitte LLP shared her bedtime routine: “About 45 minutes before bedtime I dim the lights, play relaxing music, and make a cup of chamomile herbal tea. I then journal my thoughts – and spend some time meditating and practicing deep breathing.”
What do you do to help you relax at bedtime? Drop me an email (AskMe@DrJo.com) and let me know.