Building a hygge night routine
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
I found the hardest times for me, mentally that is, was always just before bed. On a good day, my mind was racing with things I hadn't accomplished, things still left to be done. On a bad day, my anxiety was through the roof, like someone had taken every fear I ever had and compounded it. Always before bed. In bed. All night. But I found that by creating safe spaces and following a simple routine created structure and the mental decompression I needed. Eventually I became less fearful of the night and of going to bed. And now I look forward to it, especially after a long day, or in anticipation of a long winter's night.
So what's this hygge routine and how does it work? Below is a list of options you can pick and choose from. The key is to be consistent.
1. Lighting: I know, so obvious right? But did you know that exposure to bright lights (LEDs, fluorescents, and blue lights like smartphones and TVs) will suppress your melatonin production within minutes? Minutes. Melatonin helps regulate your body's circadian rhythm and the more you suppress it, the more your body thinks it's daytime, and thus the harder it is to fall asleep. In order to create a hygge-like bedroom, first consider dimming the lights, using a lower wattage bulb, using strings lights, or a nightlight with a warm hue (red, orange or yellow). Candles are always a hygge staple, as long as they are not a fire hazard and you air out the room after extinguishing. SO, instead of binge watching Game of Thrones, try turning down the lights at least an hour before bed.
2. Take in the outdoors: Before bed, can you go on one last walk, take one last breath of fresh air, or take a peek at the moon for a quick moment? Getting outside reminds the body that it’s time to wind down. In the cooler months, it also offers the contrast to the warm and cozy indoors, making you appreciate them even more when you go back inside. Connecting to mother earth will help ground you and gazing at the stars can provide perspective on what's really important.
3. Create your cocoon: Give yourself permission to load all those blankets on your bed, your couch, or your favorite nook or chair. Find the ones that make you happy and are convenient to snuggle in. Weighted blankets are another option;they help relax the body and keep you from moving positions frequently. And don't stop there, don that oversized sweater or cardigan that reminds you of bedtime. And lastly, socks. Keep your feet warm up until bedtime. This is my hidden secret, and it turns out there is science behind it! Use slippers and socks before bed, and if you're not into wearing socks in bed (me), place another comforter at the foot of the bed to keep your feet extra warm. And always use textures and fabrics that are smooth, warm, but don't overheat, like a soft wool or a warm cotton.
4. Do one thing to bring you to the present moment: If you meditate, clear your mind, and release the day. But if that's not your jam there are several things you can do to bring your mind into a state of hygge. Take a bath (with epsom salts or essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus) but don't bring your work in the bath with you; use it as an opportunity to pause. Take in all the feels. No one is saying you can't bring in a glass of wine. Journaling is another option. Take a moment to write what you are grateful for or whatever you need to get your thoughts on paper and no longer hold them at the forefront of your mind.
5. Read: It's like a mental escape, like the hygge version of Desperate Housewives or a Hallmark Christmas movie. Reading allows the brain to unwind, focus on something other than your daily stressors, and slows your breathing down. Obviously, I'm not suggesting you read a thriller; choose stories that feel like a retreat. Do this one right before you turn out the light.
6. Key in the other senses: Though not required, bringing in sound and your sense of smell are an added bonus. Use relaxing music, nature sounds (think ocean waves), or you tube theta or delta waves to move the brain into a state of sleep. Additionally, essential oils like lavender and jasmine can reduce stress and promote sleep.
7. Set your reminder: Choose a bedtime and stick to it. Make sure to choose something that is realistic for your schedule, but also allows you to have around 8+ hours of sleep. Set a reminder on your phone 30-60min before bedtime to allow yourself time to get ready (wash face, brush teeth, change clothes) if you haven't already. Ideally though, you should change as soon as you are in for the night. Sometimes it can help to change clothes as soon as you walk in the door after a long day. Think of it as mentally and physically “taking off the day.” Pull a Mr. Rodgers and transition to comfy leggings and a cardigan, or you can go straight to PJs!