Hello, friends—and hello, December! It’s hard to believe that my year of slow living experiments is almost over. It started with the slow morning experiment in January, where I allowed myself to wake up naturally and have a slow, quiet morning before the start of each day. Slow mornings are something I have managed to continue with all year, and have helped lower my anxiety about both work and life. Now, this year of experiments has come full circle, and it’s time to focus on slowing down my evenings—particularly, my bedtime routine.
If I’ve never mentioned it before, I have always been a troubled sleeper. The first time I can remember experiencing an extended stretch of insomnia was in the ninth grade (age 14). I would either lay awake until 3am and then sleep for only a few hours, or I would wake up around 3am and never fall back asleep. This went on for weeks, before I was finally so exhausted that my body just knew what it had to do. And then I would sleep well for a few weeks or months, until my insomnia came back for another stretch of time.
It’s fair to say I have had at least one or two stretches of insomnia every year since. So I wouldn’t consider myself an insomniac, and I feel fortunate to get the amount of sleep that I do. But I still don’t have the healthiest sleep pattern, and I know there are two things to blame.
The first is that, most nights, I don’t give myself a lot of downtime before bed. This past month was the worst, because the book launch has meant there is work I could do at all hours of every day. But I am currently in the habit of working right up until bedtime, then closing my laptop, crawling into bed and trying to fall asleep right away. There has been no time to read and no time for a bath, and no time to just be quiet and do nothing. I’ve actually been falling asleep ok, but that’s because of my other bad habit. I can’t even believe I’m saying this.
I bring my phone to bed with me—and I have been opening the Netflix app and falling asleep to the quiet sound of a boring show. I know, I know. I KNOW. I’ve combined the two worst things you could do in bed: look at your phone and watch TV. I will say, I don’t do this all the time. It’s a bad habit I seem to pick up when I’m stressed or sad. I did it for a couple months in 2015, and I did it for a couple months in 2016, and I’ve been doing it a lot since the dogs died. It’s like my body and mind can’t take the silence, and I just need a little comfort (that I no longer find in alcohol or food). So, I just do it. I don’t feel good about it, and I don’t even like admitting it. But it’s because I don’t feel good about it and don’t want to admit it that I know it’s time to change the habit for good. And you guys are the best accountability partners a girl could ask for, so that’s why I’m sharing it here.
My intention for December is to take back my evenings altogether. That starts with signing off from work earlier and having at least a couple of hours to myself. With the book coming out in just six-and-a-half weeks (!!!), I know the to-do list will continue to scroll through my mind, but I really need that downtime. I want to curl up on the couch with tea, read for fun again (it has all felt like work lately), and soak in a lot of epsom salt baths. That is what my body and mind really need.
What I don’t need is my phone or Netflix in bed, so that is changing cold turkey today. I’ve deleted the Netflix app, and the phone will lay upside down on my dresser (out of my reach). Maybe I’ll eventually get to the point where I don’t even bring it into my bedroom, but I have a lot of early morning interviews these days, so my phone’s alarm clock is currently essential. So, I’ll relax after work, then read in the tub and/or in bed, and fall asleep without the soother that my phone has become. That’s the plan for December.
Experiment #10: Slow Evenings
- no work/social media after 7pm
- after work, write down the next day’s schedule/to-do list
- no TV/phone after 8pm (and definitely not in bed)
- read a book every night (probably in the bathtub)
- create/practice/share my new bedtime routine
I’ve known I needed to do this experiment all year, but I think there’s a reason I pushed it to the very end: because it meant I would have to share my dirty little secret with you (that I bring my phone to bed) and because I would have to stop doing it. In the minimalism/simple living space, I feel this pressure to be totally “awakened” and in control of every part of my life. But I’m not perfect. I’m self-aware, but that doesn’t mean I do everything right. Like I’ve said before, I’m just trying to do the best I can. We all are. And I’m really grateful I can share all parts of myself here with you.
What are your goals/intentions for the last month of 2017? I’d love to hear. :)