Does this resemble you in the mornings? I know it does me on occasion.
As I shuffle my way to the bathroom, eyes still half-closed, and shift into automatic mode, thoughts of fluffy pillows and soft blankets run through my mind. I fight the temptation to look back as I trudge on. In a zombie-like trance, I continue going through the motions, not really fully aware of what I’m doing as I progress my way through my bathroom routine.
Can you identify?
When I envision the perfect morning, my mind thinks of those fairytale princesses from the movies I watched when I was a child. Why is it that when I rise, my hair is all over the place, instead of perfectly styled? I imagine being awakened by a soft ray of sunshine streaming in the window and alighting gently on my face, biding me to start the day. Then, bright-eyed and smiling, I remember “This is the day that the Lord has made [I] will rejoice and be glad in it!” I would quietly greet my husband with a kiss and then skip to the bathroom, sing praises in the shower and happily finish getting ready.
Is it really only the fairytale princesses that can experience such delightful mornings? I beg to differ. Because last year, up until this summer, my life was almost completely void of the morning blues–and I woke up at 5:30am. So what’s different now? How come I feel more lifeless than lighthearted when the sun rises?
One Small, but Significant Change
This summer, beginning in June, we had 2 pastors from Mexico visit us. Literally one right after the other (the same day). And their schedules differed from ours quite a bit.
We had a consistent bedtime of 9-9:30pm. But how could we be caring hosts, opening our home just to leave our guests alone staring at the walls until sleepiness drifted over them hours later? So…we adjusted. After all, it was just a month or so. Temporary. Then we could go back to the schedule we enjoyed. Lesson learned…More easily said than done.
So…what is the best way to shake off the morning blues and enjoy starting the day again?
The answer is simple. (At least in my case.)–Establish an evening routine and Go to bed earlier.
Go to bed earlier by Establishing a Evening Routine
A book that has been a blessing to me by sharing practical ways to change not-so-good habits is Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine. She mentions the importance of an evening rountine and how having one directly influences our mornings.
If we don’t get in bed early, we won’t get up early. Simple. Our bodies need to rest and when we deprive them they rebel against us. Forming a bedtime routine not only helps us create a new habit, but we can enjoy preparing to sleep. Think of it as a 10-30 minute (depending on the amount of time you have) Pre-bed pampering session.
My Bedtime Routine–Some Ideas to Get You Started
- Put on some soft, comfy pijamas.
- Drink some hot tea. Some of my favorites: my homemade Cinnamon & Ginger, Celestial’s Honey Vanilla Chamomile or Sleepytime.
- Brush your teeth. I don’t sleep well if I have icky, old food taste in my mouth. (Also, it helps prevents cavities.)
- Brush your Hair. For me it’s like giving my head a massage. Especially, if I’ve worn a ponytail all day.
- Do a few stretches to get out any tension from the day.
- Read. If you’re having a hard time resting due to fear or worry, I recommend reading Psalm 3 & 4, especially 3:5-6, 4:8. It’s helped calmed my soul numerous times.
- Pray and ask God to help you sleep well and wake up early. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer. God hears both short & long when they come from a sincere heart.
*Put on some relaxing music
*Take a bubble bath surrounded by pretty, scented candles.
*Anything else that relaxes you!
NOTE: I don’t always have the time to do every single thing on this list. Sometimes it’s all I can do to collapse in the bed, and sometimes I just lack the self-disicipline. But when I do them, I find I rest much better.
iPhone: Friend and Foe
Our iphones can be both for us and against us when it comes to bedtime.
- Friend: On iPhones, within the Clock app, exists a bedtime section. Pretty much everyone remembers to set an alarm to wake up on time in the morning, but it’s not as common to set one to make sure we are in bed on time. With your iPhone you can choose the hour you want to wake up, program how many hours you’d like to sleep, find soothing choices of music to wake up to and there’s even a lullaby alarm that sounds to remind you to start getting ready for bed (Mine goes off 15 minutes before I need to be in bed). Sometimes (or almost always) time gets away from me and the lullaby alarm reminds me that I need to start my bedtime routine if I want to sleep well.
- Foe: Various studies have shown that screen time, especially cell phone, before bed may interrupt sleep patterns, thus negatively affecting energy levels during the day. Studies show that to sleep best is to limit screen time to no later than 2 hours before bed . Simply type in cellphone and sleep depravation in Google and you’ll have a laundry list of studies on the subject. (Here’s one if you want to check it out.) If you find it difficult to put down the phone in the evenings, just imagine sleeping well and waking up more easily and use that as motivation.
Go to bed with an empty Kitchen Sink.
I know, that at least for me, the idea of a sink full of dirty dishes makes me want to crawl back under the covers. It’s a weight of being stuck doing yesterday’s work instead of starting the day anew. This may not be a big deal for you, it may be something else that can make you dread rising in the mornings. Whatever it may be, adding it to your evening bedtime routine and getting it out of the way can make you feel free to begin your day, leaving yesterday exactly where it belongs–in the past.
Get an Accountability Partner.
Solomon, whom God declared as the wisest man to ever live wrote this,
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to life him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9:10
God has made us to be relational and when we are unified we are stronger. Also, it can be a great motivator knowing that someone is going to ask us how well we’re doing. So find a friend that you can be accountable to, one that will encourage you and together you can reach new goals!
These suggestions are not meant to be a one-all fix-all. Life brings the unexpected. Sometimes no matter how well or early we prepare to go to bed, sleep eludes us. It may be due to chronic illness or chronic pain (I know what that can be like). Or perhaps, it’s a season of life, a new baby who needs her momma in the middle of the night, house guests on a different schedule or fill in the blank. These things that happen in our lives and make sleep difficult may surprise us many times, but they do not surprise God. He knows what will come in our lives and He promises to give His children all they need to survive these seasons. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs abundantly in Christ Jesus.” He will give the grace we need until the next season (and sleep) comes.
Here’s a free printable if you want to establish a bedtime routine of your own!
Hopefully, your mornings will begin to shine again. With God’s help, I’m getting back on track and hopefully the morning blues will be a thing of the past.
“This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it! Psalm 118:24