I know I’m not alone when I say: I love waking up early to start my day. The calm and quiet in the house, while everyone is still sleeping, is so peaceful. Alarms aren’t competing for attention and there’s no rushing around or slinging clothes out of my closet and onto my bed to race out the door. Did I mention my alarm usually goes off between 4:30-5 am?
At the beginning of the summer, while I was intensely training to ride my bike in Boulder, I began 4 am wake up calls so I could be out the door and on my bike by 5:30 am. The earlier in the day I rode, the less I had to compete with the brutal Texas heat and busy neighborhood traffic. Plus, early morning pre-dawn rides provide extra calm and quiet time to myself, which seem so rare these days.
While the 4 am alarms were hard at first, they really weren’t too bad thanks to my evening routine that helps me wind-down, relax and get to bed at a decent time. A decent time to me is usually no later than 10:30 pm. On a good night, I’m in bed between 9:30-10 pm.
Having a dialed-in evening routine—and morning routine for that matter—have always been super important to me. I find mornings to be refreshing. I set new goals and intentions and genuinely wake up in a good mood, ready for a fresh start. In the evening, I get to unwind, if even for 5 minutes, and reflect on the day. I recently started using the Day One app as a way to write something positive about each day before I go to bed. (I wish I had the time to journal . . . rather, I wish I made the time to journal).
Here’s what helps me wind down for the evening, so I can not only get to bed early but wake up feeling refreshed:
1. No Social Media
Lately, I’ve been trying to stay off social media after dinner. I recently turned off all notifications to prevent any distractions and so far it’s been the best mental break. On that note, I can’t eat a heavy meal before bedtime. I try to eat pretty light and have a snack if I’m absolutely hungry. Anything too heavy, or too much alcohol will keep me tossing and turning.
2. Room Ready
Shortly before bedtime, I dim my lights and adjust the room temperature on the cooler side. I love falling asleep with my ceiling fan on. I’ve slept with one for so many years that the white noise almost instantly puts me to sleep. I spritz my bedding with a lavender oil home spray. I get mine from milk + honey, but you can also make your own.
If I have a little extra time, I’ll listen to a podcast or music on super low volume. Lately, it’s been Lena Dunham’s Women of the Hour or my Nebraska Spotify playlist. If I’m feeling extra ambitious I light a few candles and forgo the dimmed lights. I haven’t really embraced meditation yet, aside from any solo time I can get on my bike, but I’m very close to signing up for the meditation app, Headspace.
3. Skincare Routine
While a long and warm bath is totally relaxing, I don’t always have the time. The one thing I always make time for is my evening skincare routine. My two must-haves are Eve Lom’s Cleanser and Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. Both have the most relaxing and calming essential oils that put me in the wind-down zone.
4. The Perfect Pajamas
I’m so particular about my pj’s that the wrong pair can quickly lead to an uncomfortable sleep. Too thick and bulky and I wake up hot. Too stiff or structured and I feel scratchy. Not enough covering my body and I’m freezing. It’s taken a few years to pinpoint the perfect combination, but I swear these lightweight leggings and this tissue-thin top do the trick. I’ve spent countless of dollars on fancy and cute pj sets and always go back to these.
5. Lights Out
Just as I crawl into bed and before I turn the lights out, I apply Trish McEvoy’s Lip Balm and my favorite sleep mask. I’ve tried at least 10 different sleep masks and this one stays on throughout the night and provides full eye coverage so not a few light seeps through.
*Writer’s Note: currently doing all of these things while writing this. That Eve Lom cleanser is truly, truly magical and worth every penny.