I’m ready to let you in on a secret of mine. This is something I do every night; something I’ve previously told only one friend about, and now she does it, too. Something that I believe will change your life, or at least change your pre-bed routine in a minor but overall positive way. It is — performing turndown service for yourself, as if your home is a hotel, and you are at once the guest and the staff.
The steps are as follows, though not all of them need to be taken to “turn down” your room, particularly if you don’t have some of the stated items: a bedside table, a candle, etc. You can mix and match. You can add additional things that I don’t mention. Please, customize it to your needs and desires. The first and the last steps are the only absolutely necessary ones.
1. Turn down your bed. First, you should remove any decorative pillows that are not used during sleeping, if you’re the type of person who has those. Then you get to the process of turning down the bed in earnest. What I do is take the corners of my duvet and top sheet and fold them down, exposing an acute triangle of fitted sheet — a little pocket to slip into when the time comes.
For two people, you fold the whole thing over into more of a rectangle shape. “Make it nice,” as Dorinda would say. You should smooth out the folded-over duvet and top sheet, straighten the lines, and make it pleasant to behold. Then, you fluff your pillows. Brush off any crumbs or dog hair that might be on them. Make them big and soft and clean for your big, soft, clean head.
2. Add a fragrance. This can be done in multiple ways. (You may do zero of them, if that is your desire.) I’m a fan of fragranced linen mists, so I spray one of those all over the bed, or sometimes I use rosewater. You can also light a relaxing candle, or burn a stick of palo santo, or incense, or something else you like. You can use your essential-oil diffuser, if you have one of those. Whatever makes the space more pleasant and relaxing, in a scented way.
3. Put a glass of water on your bedside table. A cool glass of water, just waiting for you. Aah. Doesn’t that sound nice?
4. Put the book you’re reading next to the glass of water. You don’t necessarily have to read the book that night, but it’s good to see it and have the option. Sometimes I also put a little notebook there with a pen, in case I need to write down something genius.
5. Tidy up a little. You don’t want a bunch of stuff around your bed, or on your bedside table, when you’re attempting to relax for bedtime because that will make you feel insane. Tidy up a little. Pick up your dirty clothes and put them somewhere. If there is a bunch of little pieces of trash on your bedside table, tissues or whatever, throw them away. I’ve found that if you pretend that you’re doing this for someone else as a treat, it makes it easier to accomplish.
6. Draw your shades. Unless you want to wake up with the sun, which can also be very nice. It’s your call and maybe depends on how late you’ll be able to sleep the next morning.
7. Dim the lighting. To accomplish this, I turn on my bedside lamp and turn off the overhead light. You may accomplish this another way; I’m unsure of the particulars of your room.
8. Set your alarm and plug in your phone. Ideally you will plug it in someplace where it is not within reach from your bed. I understand this will be difficult or impossible for some, as it demands you spend the time immediately before sleeping without your phone. But if you can do it, I recommend it.
9. Leave the space for at least 20 minutes. (Note: this time does not factor into the originally noted five minutes; this is separate.) I beg of you — do not climb into bed immediately after you’ve “turned down” your room. This final step is key. You must emotionally detach from the situation; it must seem, at least somewhat, like someone else has done this for you. After you complete your personalized pre-bed routine, leave the room. Do not come back for at least 20 minutes, or half an hour, or an hour — the longer the better. Go away. Do something else.
Then, only when you are completely ready for bed — face washed, teeth brushed — you will return to your sleepy oasis. You’ll climb into your fluffy, prepared bed. You’ll think, I’m too tired to read that book. You’ll switch off your lamp and think, I’m glad I did the whole turndown thing; that was pretty nice.