What time to do you regularly get in bed? What time do you actually fall asleep? Are you getting quality sleep? Do you feel in rhythm with the natural world around you? Do you feel like your energy is optimized throughout the cycle of the day? All of these are great questions to ask yourself when approaching this habit.
These can feel like very triggering questions for many, especially those who identify as "night owls". I used to be like that - not a self-proclaimed night owl per se, but I used to stay up late very regularly, as I'd gotten in a rhythm with my husband (who is a self-professed night owl), that after we'd put our daughter to bed, we would eat dinner or snack, and watch Netflix. We considered this our "quality time". So not only was I not getting my earlier lighter dinner, but I was also not getting to bed early. But I was getting up very early, very regularly to run or teach yoga. To say that I was exhausted would be the understatement of the year. I was depleting my adrenals, I was dangerously fatigued - to the point where sometimes by 3pm I felt like I was unsafely driving my car, as tired as I was. I had to have a very serious conversation with my husband that began something like this: " I love you very much, but our time together cannot be relegated strictly from 8pm to midnight, and strictly to numbing out on Netflix. It is not quality time, it is just time, and it's eating into my health, at that". So we talked, and now I often am in bed by 10pm. And that is still not as early as is encouraged by the Ayurvedic dosha clock, 9:30pm is ideal, but it is a huge improvement that I've cobbled together over the last year of slow, continuous increments of 10 minutes per few weeks to get me here. And I haven't felt like I was going to crash the car due to extreme exhaustion since, I'm happy to report!
Going to bed early, especially when stacked on top of eating an earlier, lighter dinner, creates the perfect set-up for waking up with (or before) the sun tomorrow. The belly is happy but not too full, having done it's most heavy lifting earlier in the day, and the body is ready for sleep. This sets up the day to run smoothly. Like a beautiful dominoes structure that all tip over with the momentum of the ones behind them to give them support and gravitas.
Even for those self-proclaimed "night owls" - humans are not wired to be night owls. Even if this is a habit that you've been practicing since college, or before - staying up late and either waking up late in the morning, or not getting enough sleep by waking up too early after a late bed time the night before, this is not a natural human biorhythm, it is artificial and superimposed because we've convinced ourselves that we just like to stay up late, or our bodies just work like this. They can also work a different way - the way they were intended to: to sleep in the dark, and wake with the light. Plus, the rest of the habits work so much smoother - the dominoes will fall so much more cleanly, when this habit is online.
I want to be perfectly honest with you and super transparent. This is my hardest daily self-care habit. And the funny thing is that I LOVE waking up early! I get up early every single day without fail, meditate, exercise, do all the other habits happily, except I'm way tired a lot of the time, when my early bedtime isn't dialed in. I have to work the hardest at this and kaizen the you-know-what out of this one, (make those very small, incremental changes) setting my time back literally 5 minutes at a time to get anywhere. And this is the first one of my self-care habits that slips out of automation for me too. But I recognize the benefit and importance that it bears on my life, and so I prioritize it.
Now, even my husband, the self-proclaimed night owl, often will come to bed not long after me and has been sleeping better since I've instituted this into my rhythm. It has been a real gift to not only my health, but that of my family members.
So maybe this next week, give it a try. Dial your bedtime back by a few minutes and see if you don't feel a bit better at wake-up time in the morning. See if you feel better prepared to face the day coming. And if you want to try this but feel like you want or need more support, let's talk! Leave me a comment and we will get a call going to move you into deeper sleep integrity!
As a student of yoga, massage, meditation , poetry and other such introversions, I figured some of my inspirations might also touch the hearts of others. Read, ruminate, digest, create...always returning to this well of deep love inside to renew ourselves and rediscover what we are. Enjoy!