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After a hard day's work you come home to more work, or your side hustle or your passion project.  Or maybe tonight's your one night of the week you left open to recharge from all your hustling, so you're looking forward to some TV binge watching with a side of social media scrolling and some Postmates. 

But how do you signal to your brain it's finally "quitting time"? How do you transition from screen time (yes TVs count as screens) to bedtime? 

If you're like me, you have a sleep window. If you're smart enough to finish your bingewatching or lucky enough to finish your work just before or during that little window where your body is telling you "I'd like to go to bed SOON, if not RIGHT NOW!" you're all set for the night. And if you miss that window, that's too bad. Now you're up for the night. Or even worse, you opt to do something stimulating during your sleep window (which would include eating lots of sugar, watching or listening to something that could amp you up) and now you're going to be staring at your bedroom ceiling all night wishing that counting sheep actually worked for you. We already know looking at our phones in bed is a no-no. 

A new personal ritual is my now favorite way to power down because it really helps me transition from the craziness of my day to bedtime without longing to check back in with anything that's on my phone right before bed (when it's most likely to amp me up). 

I simply light about 4 or 5 tea lights (you can buy a pack of 100 from Ikea for $3.49 ) along my bathroom counter — far from where any shower curtain, clumsy elbow, or curious pet could get to them. And when I turn off the light, suddenly my bathroom is the world's fanciest spa. Instead of a shower feeling stimulating and perking me up (which has happened in the past), the low lights signal to my brain that we are closing up shop. And while I truly do love a bath for super stressful days, sometimes a 20 minute soak can feel like a real production. 

 How I feel during my candlelit shower. 

How I feel during my candlelit shower. 

When I'm done showering, I like to finish this ritual by blowing out the candles one by one, and for each candle I think about one thing I am grateful for as I do it. It's scientifically proven that a practice of gratitude can lead to a better night's sleep. But until now, I've never been able to keep a nightly gratitude journal. The notebook quickly turns into my bedside coaster. But a silent mental list, easy peasy.  

Then I place my phone far from my bed (thanks, Bagby). And it's lights out.