10 Ways to Bring Calm & Serenity to Your Bedtime

“Come to Me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

– Matthew 11:28

Day 298.

12:45 a.m.

“For – the – love!” I thought to myself. As I lied in bed, wide awake, I suddenly recollected the load of laundry I began earlier in the evening. I started the wash once dinner had ended, and prior to putting my children to bed. My plan was to transfer the wet clothing from the washer to the dryer. Instead, I found myself caught up in spending the remainder of my evening with my husband, as I always happily do.

I began to silently chide myself, thinking, “Now I have to rewash them in vinegar, rinse them and wash them again!” Mere seconds passed and my thoughts shifted from the unfinished laundry to what I was going to feed my family tomorrow night for dinner. Then to my children’s Night-time Routine, Did they do it?! Do they have clothes picked out for tomorrow?

I need to remember to remind my son’s teacher about his appointment this week…”

“I forgot to get my Aunt’s birthday card in the mail… I’ll mail it out tomorrow!”

“I need to schedule a time to get together with my friend… hopefully, she doesn’t feel that I’ve forgotten about her!”

“Did I lock the car before going to bed?”

I can openly admit that, at times, I can be a control freak! I want control over every avenue of my life, and I find comfort in knowing what is to come. When I forget about certain things that need caring for, I begin to feel anxiety, stress… and worry. It is in these moments that I try to remind myself how truly unhealthy this pattern of behavior can be. Why? Because I know that my incessant need for control causes unhealthy emotional turmoil, and I know that it can lead to insomnia.

In the early 1980’s Phycologist, Thomas Borkovec of Pensylvania State University began investigative studies on worry, and sleep disorders.  Soon he discovered that worry was a major contributing factor in insomnia.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, chronic worry affects 2 to 3 percent of people in the United States.

According to Borkovec, there are 3 components to worry:

  • Overthinking
  • Avoiding Negative Outcomes
  • Inhibition of Emotions

Worry piggybacks on humans’ innate tendency to think about the future: “they crave control.”


So how does all of this play into our bedtime? Stress/Overthinking/Worry keeps our minds in an active state, and it can lead to both emotional and mental distress. We begin to focus on the negative aspects of our lives and our shortcomings. As for myself, I attempt to find healthy coping mechanisms! However, others may find negative ones such as alcohol, food or other unhealthy addictive substances. Many of which can inhibit a good nights sleep.

How does alcohol affect your sleep?

  • More frequent need to get up and go to the bathroom, especially during the second half of the night
  • Increased risk for parasomnias including sleepwalking and sleep eating
  • Greater risk for snoring and sleep-disordered breathing. Alcohol can lead to excessive relaxation of the muscles in the head, neck, and throat, which may interfere with normal breathing during sleep.
  • Alcohol consumption can trigger new sleep disorders or exacerbate existing ones, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea


How does overeating affect your sleep?

  • Insomnia Issues
    Certain foods and beverages act as stimulants that force your body into digestive mode as you’re trying to revert to sleep mode. Caffeine is an obvious culprit, but so are proteins and foods packed with MSG, which behaves as a stimulant too.
    Avoid meat, chocolate, Chinese food, colas, coffee, and tea.
  • Heartburn Discomfort
    You might never contend with acid reflux problems during the day. This is because the force of gravity is working with you as you sit or stand while digesting food. But eat and lie down and acid in your stomach can leak into your esophagus, causing reflux that makes you feel the burn – and keeps you awake way past your bedtime.
    Avoid spicy foods such as peppers and chilies and drinks that are highly acidic, such as cranberry, grapefruit and orange juice.
  • Digestive Pain
    You’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to avoid eating at least three hours before going to bed. This is because it takes the stomach at least this long to empty itself. Consuming certain foods and beverages can make the process lengthier and more arduous, especially if you’re lactose-intolerant and have trouble digesting dairy products. This said many people swear that a late-night glass of warm milk helps them sleep. There is some medical reinforcement to support this belief since milk contains tryptophan – the same chemical found in turkey. It is known to make many people sleepy, especially after a Thanksgiving dinner.
    Avoid dairy products if you’re lactose-intolerant – including cheese, yogurt and ice cream – greasy foods and those that are high in fat, such as butter and peanuts.
  • Bathroom Runs
    You might not notice the effects of diuretics during the day, either. But this is probably because you’re on the go and don’t mind having “to go” in the course of a busy day. But eat certain water-laden foods late at night and you’re likely to spend more time running to the bathroom than counting sheep.
    Avoid asparagus, beets, cabbage, celery, cranberries, cucumbers, garlic, parsley, and watermelon.
  • Weight Gain Risk
    Many health experts say that eating anything late at night is counterproductive to a good night’s sleep and good health in general since you’re depriving your body of the ability to burn off calories. But confine the argument to carbohydrates, which can quickly lead to fat and weight gain. Even 8 ounces of pasta can contain about 300 calories and consist of nearly 80 percent carbohydrates.
    Avoid foods with high-carb content, especially pasta and pizza.


How does blue light exposure affect your sleep?

Computers, televisions, and phones all emit a blue light that we are constantly being bombarded with during the day. What you may not know is that our electronic devices act as a stimulant, much like caffeine in coffee or other sugary foods. These seemingly harmless screens disrupt the production of melatonin and throw off our circadian rhythm. They keep us awake!

SO… How can you ward off insomnia and bring calm and serenity to your bedtime?

#1. Surround Yourself in Darkness

Before turning in for the night, ensure that your blinds are closed and any unnecessary lights are turned off. This will help signal to our bodies that it is truly time for rest.

#2. Keep Your Room Silent

If possible, try to sleep without any noise. Find noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.

#3. Hypnosis

One of my favorite apps on my phone is JC Free Hypnosis! The first few hypnosis tracks are free, and the others, IMO, are worth the buy. As you listen to the tracks, the coach will also lead you in deep breathing exercises. If hypnosis is not your thing, try listening to soft classical music, or even nature sounds to help lull you into a deep, restful nights sleep.

#4. 4-7-8 Breathing

Pioneered by Dr. Andrew Weil, 4-7-8 breathing is one of the simplest yet most effective tools you can use to access instant calm. Simply inhale through your nose for a count of 4, gently hold this breath for 7 counts and exhale slowly for another count of 8. This lowers cortisol levels and helps bring both calm and serenity.

#5. Avoid Looking At Screens

Remember the blue light we discussed earlier on? If at all possible, avoid looking at any screens before bedtime. Remember, they act as a stimulant!

#6. Keep Your Room Clean

If you are anything like me, a disorganized home makes for a disorganized mind. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary, a place where you can escape and find serenity. When your room is in a state of chaos, you are more likely to find yourself contemplating how to tackle that mess come morning instead of sleeping.

#7. Lower the Bedroom Temperature

Our core body temperature decreases naturally as we begin to fall asleep. If the room is too warm you will more than likely have a difficult time relaxing and finding that peaceful sleep you are so desiring.

#8. Shut Your Mind Down

More often than not when we turn in for the night, our minds turn on. If you find yourself reminiscing over the events of your day or things undone… STOP! Tell yourself, “This is neither the time nor the place!” Close your eyes, and focus not on your thoughts but on your breathing. This is a simple step that has aided me quite well over the years in falling asleep.

#9. Avoid Unhealthy Consumptions

Create a cutoff time, after 7:00 or 8:00 you can no longer have anything to eat or drink. This includes alcohol or snacks of any kind. This will aid in preventing any future issues such as bathroom visits, bloated feelings or heartburn during the night.

#10. Natural Sleepaid

Certain supplements can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. They encourage sleep either by boosting the production of sleep-promoting hormones or by calming brain activity.

Magnesium. Magnesium helps activate the neurotransmitters responsible for sleep.

Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, but it can also be taken as a supplement to help regulate your sleep.

Theanine. Theanine is an amino acid with sedative properties. Although it has not been shown to induce sleep, it could help with relaxation.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is a compound produced in the brain that inhibits certain transmitters and may help the central nervous system relax.

So here is the bottom line, our health is so important and if we are not ensured a good nights sleep, then our health will begin to wain. We have but only this one body, this one mind, and this one soul… we must protect it with our very lives!

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

  • Matthew 6:34

Would You Give Up Gift-Giving?

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives today.”

– Unknown

Day 198.

When you reflect upon your childhood, what are some of your fondest memories? Was it the Nintendo Gameboy you received? Or maybe the Air Pressure Super Soaker, or Scorch, the cute and loveable Beanie Baby?

The fulfillment and joy that encompassed my childhood did not come from the gifts given to me, but from the moments shared among those I cherished. Moments filled with laughter and love, teachable moments where my parents chose to instill lifelong values.

If given the option, would you give up gift-giving?

“According to a new Harris Poll survey on behalf of SunTrust, 69% of Americans said they would.”

“43% of respondents said they feel pressured to buy gifts and spend more money than they can afford. With the extra time and money saved by eliminating gift-giving, 60% of Americans said they’d spend more time with loved ones, 47% would save money or invest it, 37% would pay down debt and 25% said they would use the money on activities with friends and family.”


This year my husband and I came to the decision to, “switch gears”, and give our daughter a Wee-Ride for her birthday! It is like a regular bicycle that connects to the parent’s bike, allowing your child to ride with you.

Instead of giving her another toy, why don’t we give her a gift we can all share in? The gift of memories!

– My Husband

We have tried with much success this year, not to buy our children’s happiness, but to gift them with opportunities for happiness. Giving the gift of experiences, fulfillment, and memories!

Our children are growing at a substantial rate, and we had to replace their bicycles with new ones, and they could not be happier! Both my husband and I have had the pleasure to share in our children’s excitement!

I watched as each of my children sped past me on their new bicycles, the melodious sounds of their laughter like that of a wind chime. It brought both a sense of joy and peace into my heart, they were happy! It was at that moment that I realized how vitally important these family outings would be for our children. Why?

“Love is not about how often you say I love you, but how often you prove it to be true!”

Our children will not be children forever! They do not want our money, though they may ask for it on occasion. They want both our time and affection. They want moments shared with their Father, after he returns home from work, maybe reading a favorite book! They want moments shared with their Mother, playing hide-and-seek, whilst hiding in one of the kitchen cabinets! They want cuddles, and kisses – they want moments filled with giggles and grins, and fits of laughter! They want us to present them with the chance to create memorable moments – the only expectation being for them to be who they truly are… children!

My step-son came to stay with us this month, following suit with his siblings, he inquired multiple times if we were going on a bike ride after Dad came home. He stayed with us for a month, and we thoroughly enjoyed him being here!  We have played several games together, been outdoors, and laughed ourselves silly!

Looking back, I know that my children will appreciate these moments, and remember them far more than they would with any new toy we might have bought them. 

Every day is a new opportunity for us as parents to give our children the greatest gift of all, the gift of ourselves, our presence and our time!

Putting Minamalism Into Action

“Imagine a life with less. Less stuff, less clutter, less stress and debt and discontent.”

– The Minimalists

Day 90.

January has come and gone, much like an old, beloved song on the radio. The same goes for many of the items in our home!

I sat on the floor of my son’s room, trash sack in hand, neatly folding his clothes into the bag. Suddenly, I found myself feeling a sense of sentimentality and a sense of loss. “What am I doing?” I thought to myself. “Why am I doing this? I can’t do this!”  I paused, and without thought enshrouded the soft, green pajamas around my face; deeply inhaling my son’s scent. After several long minutes, I realized what had caused the abrupt sense of disquietude.

It felt as though I was throwing away a part of my son! As though I was about to lose something of great importance and value. Suddenly, the simple task of gathering together ill-fitting clothing seemed… difficult. But why?

Oftentimes we hold onto things to fill a certain void in our lives. We tell ourselves, “I simply cannot bring myself to part with this,” or “if I throw this out I’ll be losing a part of that person, or myself, or the memories tied to this item!”

There are copious amounts of reasons as to why people have a difficult time letting go of their belongings:

  • The item(s) hold certain sentimental value
  • We feel guilt over the amount spent on that item, whether we bought it ourselves, or it was gifted to us
  • We worry we may need the item in the near future
  • The item becomes a “someday” item, meaning we tell ourselves, “someday I’m going to become a seamstress and will need all of this fabric!
  • We struggle with an obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • We struggle with hoarding

Based on a scientific study done over a 23-year span by Jack Samuels at John Hopkins University, not all people who have OCD are hoarders. “Now, we know that only one-third of people with OCD exhibit hoarding behavior, that many people without OCD hoard, and we suspect that genes can play a key role in it.


My reasoning for not wanting to discard my son’s clothing was nary so momentous as someone struggling with hoarding or OCD. Alas, I couldn’t help but feel sharp pangs of guilt weighing heavily upon my heart.

So what do I do now?

“How do I move past these feeling?” 

“Is this ok that I’m feeling this way, should I be feeling this way?” 

I took a deep breath, inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth. I let my eyes fall shut and at that moment, a small giggle heedlessly egressed from my lips. I opened my eyes and said to myself, “it’s just stuff… that’s all it is!” Once I heard these words I repeated them aloud, again… and again… and again.

Everything I was experiencing was perfectly normal, and I’d given myself the few moments required to feel what I was feeling. I knew if I wanted to truly continue on this journey I had begun, I had to be stronger than my emotions. I had to set my emotions to the side and allow logic to play its part. I couldn’t allow the things filling our home to control me.

With a renewed sense of purpose, I took the green pajamas that belonged to my son and plunged them into the large white sack. As an added encouragement I asked myself, “what is it that has brought me to this point?”

  • I had established my goal at the beginning of the year; to live a calm, minimalistic, peaceful life!
  • I am a person who enjoys doing research before diving into anything. I began by watching the documentary on Netflix, The Minimalists.
  • I had the respect and support of my loved ones.
  • I expanded upon my main goal and made it a point to get rid of one unnecessary thing each day.
  • Each time I felt any sort of hesitation to discard something in my home, I paused and closed my eyes. Telling myself and asking myself, “It’s just stuff! Is this something you truly need? Is this something deeply sentimental? Can I live without it?”
  • I made two very strict rules for myself: #1. If I’ve not seen it or used it for 6 months or more, then it needs to go. #2. Once the item is in the bag or box, it cannot come out!
  • And finally, refusing to give up!

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