How To Go To Bed Earlier

I swear on my life that tonight is the night…

08.24.16
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I hit a few people in the face and/or the nip with my stupid canvas duffle bag on the way to write this intro.

My intention was to make a smart time-related decision for once in my life — to close my laptop early and stand up casually instead of in a panic, to saunter rather than run through three train cars because in order to exit at this particular Connecticut stop you cannot be in the precise car that I was sitting. But then I fell asleep. Just for a true minute. And I woke up just as I was about to miss my stop, jumped up with that familiar fear and fucking booked it.

I booked it and all of those faces and some of those nipples. And here I am again. Writing. Waiting for my ride, which is late.

That is life. Things get in the way, like surprise naps and humans, and they derail our fabulous plans. It’s also the paradox of sleep, if you want to start reading about what you clicked into this post for, because how many times have you promised yourself, a half-dead koala bear clutching your morning bed all, “WHYYYYYYY?”, that tonight is going to be the night that you go to bed early.

Then the next thing you know it’s 3 a.m. and you’re memorizing the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but in Spanish, just in case.

All of which is to say that it’s easier promised than done.

But you actually can do it. I’m still in the process of trying, and these are the things that work:

1) Melatonin and drugs and couch medicine, apparently, but I don’t touch that stuff. I once took a quarter of a Klonopin because I seriously thought my body was going to abduct itself (fun ’bout of anxiety) and my friend had to Weekend-at-Bernie’s me around. So I can’t speak to this.

2) Be a strict mom and put a screen ban on yourself two hours before your intended bed time. Two because everyone knows it takes an hour after you say you’re done to actually be done. (But if you can truly do two, it’s that much more *restorative.* Three is straight up saintly.)

Screens include televisions, in case you forgot. And yes this includes Kindles. Sure they have non-disruptive screens or whatever; yes there are apps for your phone but don’t create excuses! It’s a gateway drug. Buy cheap, used paperback books on Amazon or rent from your local library until you can be trusted.

3) Notify all friends, family, loved ones and necessary parties that you are going dark from here on out at X time every night so that you avoid waking up to texts like, “Are you alive?”

4) Make a curfew for yourself to be home, and make it at least one hour before you shut your screen off. Now make it mandatory. It’s crazy what a concrete excuse can do when it comes to getting out of…literally anything.

“Sorry, I can’t. If I get home after 9:30 my self grounds me.”

5) If you have a mattress partner, get them on your sched. They’ll be relieved because everyone wants to go to bed earlier. You will not succeed if they are stay-up enablers.

6) Keep a pad of paper next to your bed with a pen. Any time you have a “to-do” pop into your head, write it down. You can’t do it now anyway so no use stressing your sleep hours away, right? Right. This takes practice but it helps.

7) You know what else is a nice, relaxing, sleep-inducing activity? Journaling. Keep it short and sweet.

8) Drink a cup of tea. That’s what your mom would say!

9) Create a nighttime ritual that you genuinely look forward to. I’m about to sound like a ~*ladiez magazine*~ for a second but this works: make an evening playlist the next time you have 20 minutes to focus on it. Then play it. Light a candle that doesn’t make you choke or sneeze. Do a four-step face routine. Try a few yoga moves. Find your routine and then make it a true habit. Like story time does with toddler, this will signal to your brain and body that it’s almost time for bed.

10) Read, but maybe not The Girls. Nothing that gets you jazzed! Choose a book that you’ve always been meaning to read — the one you lie about and say you have read just because everyone always references it. Again, you cannot be trusted! No mercy. Read the jazzy book before work — this post said nothing about being on time for the day.

Photographed by Emily Zirimis.

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