In an earlier post, I wrote about putting yourself to sleep, where I described an ideal arc of an entire day that sets someone up for quality sleep. Now I want to zoom into the evening time for what I call cuing for sleep. Sticking with ideals here, let’s say you’ve built an appetite for sleep. This means you’ve used a sufficient amount of your energy by moving your body and engaging in social, mental, and/or spiritual activities. And when I say a sufficient amount of energy, that’s very specific. I don’t mean you’ve cooked yourself to a crisp pile of burnout. That, my friend, will cause you to go into a state of depletion that will disrupt your sleep in other ways. I’ll cover that in a future blog post.

For now, I want you to conceptualize moving into your later evening –like an hour after you’ve eaten your last bite and after all tasks for the day are done– with a pleasant readiness for rest.

This pleasant readiness for rest feels good. It’s not a fatigue or weariness. You’re not wobbly in this state. There is a sense of satisfaction that you’ve used your internal resources well without overdoing it. Your body will say, “hey that bed’s gonna feel nice,” rather than, “ouch, too much.”

I think this sweet spot can sometimes feel elusive. If you’re on that journey of establishing a rhythm where there’s flow in the day and an appetite for sleep at night, carry on! It’s a noble journey. I know it took me time to figure that out. And as I moved into different periods of my life, that picture has shifted. So there’s an omnipresent need to keep observing and noticing subtleties. If you can find ways to knock down stress during the day it will go a long way.

And then, in that later part of the evening, again after you’ve finished the tasks of the day, you’ve got to create some magic in your home space and for your body-mind!

The magic is an orchestration between what you do with your surroundings, your physical experience, and emotional intensity. And yes, I know we can’t always avoid emotional intensity and we live in an unfair world that doles out pain. Yet showing up for that requires consistent restoration. So if you can stay with me here, think about a song that’s coming to the end and gradually fades out.

You want to move through things in a lighter manner as you near the one to two hours before bed. Our circadian rhythms are there to help us predict what comes next so that we’re ready for it. Your body-mind-spirit is trying to prepare for what it needs. And what it needs for sleep is less or softer inputs so that it can turn inwards for restoration. The restoration at night is a destination where the signposts are reduced stimulation. Here’s some things you can do to make that happen best:

  • Dimming lights,
  • Saving heavy conversations for another day
  • Supporting your digestion with a digestive tea
  • Switching into loose and comfy clothes
  • Taking a relaxing shower or bath
  • Giving yourself a foot rub, better a foot soak in Epsom salts
  • Sitting quietly
  • Smelling a scent that makes you feel calm

What will you add to this list?