Sleep is often perceived to be a passive activity, if not the most passive activity we do. When bedtime rolls around, we brush our teeth and slide under the covers until our bodies and brains put us into a state of rest. The next day, we wake up and go about our business, often without thinking anything of how the night went. It’s understandable that we let our brains relax and turn off after a long day of being wakeful and active. However, what if we told you that changing the way you see and pay attention to sleep could significantly improve your sleep quality and waking life? In this guide, we’ll explain how to do just that.
What does intentional sleep mean?
Intentional sleep is all about awareness. It’s about being mindful of your nightly routine, the process of falling asleep and waking up, and everything else that goes into the ritual of sleep.
While awareness is good for our mental health, it can also be incredibly beneficial to our physical health, helping us figure out what we need to do to get our bodies the best sleep possible.
For example, imagine you’ve been sleeping poorly for a while now. If sleep has been a totally passive activity up until this point, you probably aren’t noticing the habits that could be causing sleep issues. Maybe you’ve been using screens right before bedtime. Perhaps you’ve been eating the same greasy food as a late-night snack and your body can’t fully rest as a result.
By adopting intentional sleep habits, you’ll learn to pay greater attention to what is impacting your sleep so that you can correct these patterns and get the quality rest you deserve.
Ways to add intention to your routine
Everyone’s sleep routine looks different, so don’t feel pressured to adopt the same strategies as the people around you. Try out some strategies to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Let’s get the ball rolling with some popular ways to integrate a little mindfulness into your routine.
#1: Journal at night and in the morning
You’ve probably been told to journal plenty of times, but that’s because it works! Writing our thoughts down helps us retrieve memories, process emotions, and better understand ourselves.
By journaling both at night and in the morning, you can better notice how your thoughts and feelings shift overnight. Were you feeling negativity or frustration at night that passed in the morning? Did you sleep poorly after feeling great the night before, then wake up feeling groggy? Look back on your journal entries and pay attention to any trends that might need addressing.
#2: Meditate before bed
During the day, finding a moment to be still and meditate can be really challenging. Set aside a few minutes before bed to sit and watch your thoughts flow through your head without judgment. Total awareness of your thoughts and feelings will help you better understand your needs. It might be exactly what your brain needs to feel comfortable settling down for the night.
#3: Create a mindful bedtime routine
Most of us have learned to mechanically brush our teeth and wash our face before bed – or whatever your personal routine is. Some nights, this process feels mindless and rushed. Rather than speeding through this part of your night, try paying close attention to how you feel.
Are your gums sensitive as you brush and floss your teeth? How does the hot water feel on your face? What is the speed of your breathing as you get ready for bed? Do you feel any pain or tension in your body? By paying attention to every sensation during your bedtime routine, you’ll become aware of what your body needs to feel better and enter a state of rest.
#4: Use a sleep tracker
Finally, a sleep tracker is a great way to pay attention to your sleep quality and everything surrounding it. Sleep trackers let you record your daily bedtime and wake time so you can pay closer attention to how many hours of sleep you’re getting and how that changes over time. If there’s a certain part of the month that you sleep better or more poorly, a tracker will help you notice.
There are a plethora of electronic sleep trackers on the market. These have their merits – in fact, some are quite advanced in what they can monitor – but they can also have downfalls. One of them being that electronic devices emit blue light, which can impact your ability to get to sleep. A useful, and certainly cheaper, way to start tracking your sleep is with printable sleep trackers.
If you’re interested in giving sleep trackers a spin, download the weekly and monthly printable sleep trackers below, courtesy of Tommy John.
It’s okay if it takes some time to integrate intentional sleep habits into your routine. Be patient with yourself as you learn what works for you and what doesn’t. With time, you’ll notice the incredibly positive impact that mindful sleep can have on your life.
Please note: This article is not to be used as medical advice. If you have any worries about your sleep health, speak to a medical professional. This article may contain affiliate links.
Luke is a content creator at Siege Media. His passion for digital marketing and creative writing has led him to cover topics within a variety of industries, from business and cybersecurity to lifestyle. When he’s not writing he enjoys making music, traveling, and spending time with his friends and family.