If you're anything like me, you probably continually promise yourself that tonight's the night you're finally going to start going to bed earlier, and then midnight rolls around and you're still wide awake, intently reading some article you saw on Twitter (or watching "okay, just one more!" episode of your new favorite Netflix show and suddenly it's 2 AM). First of all, a major adjustment to your sleep schedule takes time to get used to, but beyond that, there are a bunch of factors in your day-to-day that can make going to bed early feel impossible—it's not, but it takes more than just declaring "I'm going to bed by 10 PM tonight!" to make it work.
If you're looking to get into that early-to-bed mentality and make your sleep schedule work better for you, try making some changes at home and to your daily routine. These are some of the habits people who've already been there and done that follow, and they can help.
They Get Up Early (and Get Stuff Done)
One of the things that keeps me up later than I'd like to be is that I have too much to do after my work day is done. Putting off going to the gym, cleaning and running errands until you leave the office means that you might not have enough time to wind down and relax, which means that getting to sleep early feels totally impossible. Getting up early—and using the time you have before going to work—to do things like exercising and picking up around your apartment can be a huge help in hitting your target bedtime. For one, waking up earlier will make you tired earlier, and then when you get home you can just relax.
They Cook Meals in Advance
Another way to ensure your post-work nights are as relaxing as possible? Cook dinner (and lunch, if you bring your own to work) ahead of time so you don't have to take time out of each day to do so. Some meal prep before the work week starts will save you precious time throughout the rest of the week—you can make meals that freeze well and reheat them later, or try setting up slow-cooker meals before you leave so they're ready when you get home. Of course, not every meal you'll want to make should be made in advance, but most can—the ones that can't won't feel like as much of a burden when you're not doing it every day. This way, you can spend more time unwinding (and enjoying your food!) at the end of a long day, and you can settle in earlier.
They Record Their Favorite Shows
Some of your favorite TV shows don't come on until late at night, which can be a struggle if you feel that familiar need to keep up but would (at least timing-wise) rather be getting some much-needed shut-eye while it's on. An easy way to meet in the middle: record any shows that are on too late for your new sleep schedule, then watch them—and avoid any spoilers on Twitter—the next day during your post-work relaxation time, or in the morning, if you have the time and nothing else to get done. If you can't record them, most major channels allow you to watch them online with your cable log-in info, and you can likely catch them on your cable provider's On Demand menu.
They Keep Their Bedrooms Screen-Free
You've probably heard this more times than you can count, but it's worth repeating just in case: looking at screens (your phone, your computer, the TV, etc.) right before bed isn't great for your eyes or your quality of sleep. On top of that, having your phone and other tech right next to you or having the TV on while you're in bed can serve as a major distraction, keeping you from falling asleep sooner. When you're trying to fall asleep but not having the best luck, it's tempting to just grab your phone and scroll through Instagram (I'm definitely guilty of this, and it totally keeps me up later than I should be) rather than lay there a little restlessly until you finally drift off. By keeping all your tech out of your bedroom, you won't have that temptation anymore, and you can focus on going to bed.
They Don't Caffeinate Too Late
If you're a late afternoon coffee drinker, you probably know the challenge that is trying to fall asleep when you're still wired on caffeine from mere hours before. Not only does caffeine make you feel less tired—and thus, make it harder to fall asleep—it also disrupts your quality of sleep. According to Psychology Today, drinking caffeine even 6 hours before bedtime can have a negative effect on your sleep quantity and quality. Drinking anything caffeinated—not just coffee—too close to when you want to go to sleep can both cause disruptions while you're sleeping and keep you awake in the night, so if you're trying to get to bed earlier, be mindful of when you're indulging in your favorite perk-up beverages so it doesn't have too much of an impact on your sleep schedule.
Re-edited from a post originally published 4.11.2017 - TW