For the last few weeks, with the exception of weekends I have been waking up pretty consistently between 7 and 8am. Whether it’s because of an early morning meeting or lately doctor’s appointments, each weekday I seem to be rising a little bit earlier. As I’ve gotten older it’s less traumatizing to wake up early but I’m still not quite able to get to bed at the time I would like to get the 8-9 hours I need to be a functional human being.
I’ve written before about my struggles with getting to bed earlier and I continue trying to figure out what I can do to improve the odds. I realized I need a better cue for my body to and mind to get into a sleep state. I already like to drink tea in the evenings and often times I also read before going to bed but often enough I am staying up to chat with my husband who works late or watching TV.
The other night I stumbled on a new (for me) way of getting to bed earlier and it’s so stunningly simple that I’m rather surprised it never really occurred to me do so it on a regular basis. I’m talking about taking a hot bath. In my effort to be efficient I normally just hop in the shower for a few minutes and try to be in and out as fast as possible. I got used to doing this when I lived in California and we were going through a really bad drought. Conserve water has been my mentality since then and by and large that is still how I plan to operate. Yet, there is something to be said for indulging in a nice, long, hot bath and actually taking the time to fully relax.
The heat immediately sends my body into a different state which naturally induces sleepiness. The transition from being wet in the shower to getting beneath the covers is also quite convenient as I’m already looking to maintain the warmth. It’s a win-win situation.
The last few nights I have done this and have felt a wave of sleep wash over my body as soon as I get into bed from the shower. I also find myself falling asleep much more quickly and have less of an urge to stall and stay awake for a longer period of time.
One challenge is to build enough time in my evening to take advantage of the effects of a hot bath. The last few days I came home from work at a fairly reasonable hour but often that is not the case. Like a lot of people I struggle with giving up that time in the evenings which is just for me and instead get myself to bed at a more decent hour. Ultimately, it comes down to priorities. Do I prioritize getting a full night’s sleep knowing that I will be better for it in the morning, or do go ahead and take that extra hour in the evening to unwind before I have to do it all over again the next day?
I may struggle with the answer to that question for the rest of my life, especially since I’m much more of a night owl than a morning lark. I’m giving it an honest effort and trying to find as many solutions and strategies as I can so that I may feel and function at a much higher level. It may not be easy but at least I know one more thing to add to the positive things that help me sleep column.
Now I’m off, my bathtub beckons.