Did you know that everyone’s circadian rhythm is different, but – no matter what – the best quality sleep you’ll get is if you get to bed before midnight? Did you know that you are genetically predisposed to being an early bird or a night owl? Did you know that looking at screens late at night (and thereby letting blue light penetrate your retina) makes it much more difficult to fall asleep quickly?
I’ve learned a lot about sleep in 2020, because this wretched year has come packaged with an unexpected and entirely unwelcome side effect of severe insomnia. This means I’ve spent (probably too much) time online Googling remedies, and the more I learned about the science of sleep, the more I craved it. For my whole adult life, I’ve been one of those annoying people that falls asleep easily. I pop on an eye mask and ear plugs, and I’m out like a light, but unlike Drake and Travis Scott, I’ve still never slept through a flight. The truth is, I’ve reached nuclear levels of stress this year, and my pre-existing anxiety has worsened in correlation as instability threatened everything I hold dear.
I’m not alone. Sleep habits changed worldwide during quarantine and lockdown. More people slept later, had poorer quality sleep, and a staggering 98% of people self-reported they developed sleep problems post-lockdown, according to a recent study by SleepStandards.com. If you’re like me, and sleep has become elusive, I have a secret I can let you in on.
Last month, I participated in a Zoom event held by the beauty brands Rituals for their new sleep collection ‘Ritual of Jing’. Not only are the products in the collection specifically formulated to help you fall asleep and have better quality sleep, but the event was packaged with a tutorial by sleep researcher and co-author of Sleep for Success, Dr. Rebecca Robbins. In going through the same statistics I had recently been Googling, it was Robbins’ acknowledgement of the issues that sparked a surprising response in my body. By simply discussing with others a need for rest, practicing some easy relaxation techniques with the group, and finding out others were facing the same issues, I felt surprisingly, well, sleepy.
It was an early-evening event, but I was already yawning. In my obsessiveness about the pursuit of a good night’s rest, I found that sharing a common relaxation experience with others motivated my brain to start looking forward to bedtime. Small reminders, starting early in the day, have helped me relax more. I recently got an Apple Watch, which surprised me with a feature that popped up and prompted me to breathe deeply for one-minute. “You’re the boss,” I thought, and started inhaling through my nose and out of my mouth slowly. It did immediate wonders for my physical state. Sometimes, we forget to just breathe, to relax, to unclench, to rest.
Previously, bedtime came for me whenever I could stop working, turn off my brain, and force myself under the covers – only to find that I was lying awake for hours on end wishing and hoping and praying that merciful slumber would kiss my eyes. The more I wanted it, the less I got it. I built up anxiety around my lack of sleep. It turns out my symptoms were psychosomatic.
The ethos of Rituals is in the name. Establishing routines and rituals around beauty, skincare, and sleep, Rituals has made habitual self-care a cornerstone of its offerings. Dr. Robbins urged us to start a routine, in order to lull our brains into the right state for rest. My erratic patterns stopped once I determined I would be in bed by 11:30, with lights off at midnight, every night. No more searching for sleep; I let it come to me.
To support these rituals, the brand has released the ‘Ritual of Jing’ range, inspired by the ancient Chinese concept of Jing, representing calmness, stillness and tranquility. Lavender and Sacred Wood are the soothing core of each product in the collection, including a brilliant little tube of ‘Relax Serum’ which you apply to the pressure points of your temples in a circular motion. I’ve kept it on my desk ever since, and when applied throughout the day, the scent has a calming effect that I’ve grown to love. I’m also obsessed with the ‘Ritual of Jing’ pillow mist, which I spritz on my pillow every night before bed, the ‘Hand Mask’ which I use to massage my aching hands and wrists after a long day spent at my desk, and the ‘Fragrance Sticks’, which I keep on my bedside. These have all been folded into my nighttime ritual, and my sleep has finally stabilized.
Discover the ‘Ritual of Jing’ collection below, and find your path to peace.