You know that feeling when you’re so extremely tired but lay wide awake staring at the ceiling? This is an experience that I used to encounter way too often, and I believe it had to do with the fact that my body was so incredibly tired from being on my feet all day, but my mind couldn’t relax because I was overthinking that day’s math lesson, or whether I should have called a particular student’s parent about a behavioral incident, or one of the million other things that happened in or out of the classroom that day.
This hyper- awake mental state would usually result in me grabbing my phone to check my work e-mails, or doing a quick search on my computer for fraction worksheets. Then, I’d lay back down and hope that I’d be just a little more tired and therefore able to fall asleep. More often than not, my mind would continue to race and it would eventually become 1:30 a.m. This would then further stress me out because I’d begin calculating the amount of time until my alarm was going to go off.
Seriously, is there anything less calming than the “If I fall asleep in ___ minutes, I’ll be able to get ___ hours and ___ minutes of sleep before I have to wake up” calculation? Nope, not in my opinion.
Anyway, this unpleasant, nighttime tossing & turning that is all too common for a lot of us has become way less frequent for me ever since I added something to my list of relaxation techniques that is so simple and requires basically nothing additional to what you probably already have in your home. I like to call it candlelight showering. It is exactly what it sounds like: showering in candlelight.
Yup, I light a candle (or a few), turn all of the lights off in my bathroom, and hop right into the shower. Super simple, SO life changing. I mean, you have to shower anyway, so why not make it work a little extra for you?
Ok, so maybe you’re picturing a super creepy image of being alone in a dark bathroom, but I’m telling you, it has become my favorite relaxation technique and way to get ready for bed for the following reasons:
1. Adjusts your eyes to the dark: The tendency to check your phone & be exposed to bright lights before bed actually interrupts your ability to fall asleep. Melatonin levels drop in the presence of light, so creating this darkness before your actual bedtime will make the process of falling asleep easier & more peaceful.
2. Warms up your body: I guess I never clarified this, but my candlelight showers are always hot, never cold. The warmth on my body brings comfort & makes me want to continue this feeling by jumping under the covers.
3. Promotes mindfulness: Since the bathroom is very dark with just the candle burning, I feel like candlelight showering helps me focus energy into my other senses besides sight, particularly touch & smell. This whole experience allows me to focus on the present moment, how my scalp feels when I’m shampooing, the scent of the lavender in the body wash. Being completely present is something I struggle with during the day, so I love that this helps me focus on the literal here & now.
4. Spa ambiance: The darkness mixed with the candle naturally creates a spa-like ambiance, which immediately helps me relax. It’s so important to create places & moments that feel like an oasis in your own home in my opinion because this is where you spend so much of your time, money, and energy.
For maximum results, it’s best that when you get out of the shower & move to the room where you’ll be getting dressed or ready for bed that it is not brightly lit because it will interrupt the state that your eyes are in, and this always wakes me back up which is the opposite point of this whole experience. I like to have my bedroom very dimly lit & my bed all set up so I can hop right in as soon as I’m dried off & ready. I bring the candle into my room & enjoy the ambiance for a little longer before I doze off.
Also, I’d recommend saving shaving or any sort of overly-involved skincare sequence for a shower that has the lights on.
Try a candlelight shower before bed & tell me what you think in the comments!