I am a notorious night owl, much to the chagrin of the husband. While he is rapidly fading, sinking into bed at a respectable hour, I am bouncing off the walls, my brain ticking away and turning over what I would like to do tomorrow, what I want to eat for dinner next, replaying random cringe-worthy memories, recalling my favourite scene in an episode of something. Eventually I get hyper tired, signified by manic laughing lasting for minutes on end whereupon I finally crash. Hard. The husband then breathes a sigh of weary relief and reaches over to turn the final light out.
Contradictorily, I actually love my sleep (8 hours or it doesn’t count), and in recent years I have taken great pleasure in making my nest – creating the most sumptuous, cosy, inviting bed that just calls to me and cannot be ignored. Here’s how I try to wind down at the end of the day.
Don’t bring work to bed
As best you can, leave work at the office, in the car home, on the bus, at the gym on the treadmill, at the front door. Keep wherever you call home your sanctuary and escape from the rest of the world, and definitely don’t bring work to bed. I love lounging in bed just chilling, and I’m known to purposefully go to bed early just so I can stay up in bed hanging out. Avoid however, doing anything faintly productive while you’re in bed, otherwise you’ll just wire your mind awake while your body screams for sleep. In the past I’ve caught up on essays, typed emails, researched or planned for a holiday, and have never been able to switch off after that, even though my eyelids are heavy and my brain doesn’t even process information efficiently anymore. At most, watch an episode or two of your favourite TV show or read a proper book, then lights out as soon as you find yourself not hearing the dialogue or it takes you 3 goes to finish a paragraph.
Make your nest
I’m lazy and don’t make the bed in the morning, so once I’m home and changed, I like to “potter” – doing domestic stuff in an unhurried way that leaves me feeling very accomplished. For me, this means turning my bed into something inviting – fluffing up the pillows and duvet, straightening out the sheets, piling on more layers if the night is going to be cold. Bed doesn’t need to look like a Harvey Norman or Ikea catalogue, but it should feel like a place you want to crawl towards on all fours and hibernate in like a bear in winter.
It’s common knowledge that modern technology is keeping us up and wired for longer. I am a terrible perpetrator of lounging in bed playing Clash of Clans, scrolling through Pinterest, or watching episodes of How I Met Your Mother long past the politeness point. While I don’t unplug immediately once I get home, I try and make it a point to read an actual, physical book once I’m in bed and limit electronic interaction as much as I can.
Associating certain actions or smells with going to bed may also help your brain shut down and relax. I’m big on my skincare, so the time I take to properly cleanse my face and faff about with products is something I do to signal that the day is at an end. Spritzing pillow sprays, room fragrances, or burning scented candles in relaxing scents is also something I love doing and again, is an olfactory signal to my brain that it’s time to wrap it up.
As an aside, our largest pet bird, a short billed corella named Turtle, says “night night birdies” and “nigh night Turtle” when he sees me bring out the blankets to cover the cages at night. I like to think that’s his ritual before he roosts for the night.
What sort of routine do you maintain to wind down?