The older I get, the more I realize the importance of a good bedtime routine. It’s ironic because it’s the thing we fought tooth and nail as children, and the thing we neglected as young adults. The key to a good night’s sleep is a consistent bedtime routine. There’s a reason why we try to impose them on our children; because routines help you thrive. Everyone’s bedtime routine looks different, based on your lifestyle and circumstances. But there are a few key steps I’ve found that are guaranteed to ease you into a peaceful slumber.
Set a schedule
It’s hard to have a routine without a schedule. Setting parameters might seem like it’s a bit rigid, but once you get in the flow, it will make everything run much more smoothly. Set a time that you want to be asleep by, and then set a “start” time for your bedtime routine, generally an hour or hour and a half prior to “sleep” time. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you that it’s time to start shutting everything off and preparing for bed.
Prep for tomorrow
Before I go to bed, one of the most important things I do is get my house “back to ready.” This means making sure all the basics are cleaned up and put away. Dishes are done, toys are put away, all electronics are plugged in and off for the night. Your body and mind respond subconsciously to clutter. Having a clean space will make it easier to mentally check that off your to-do list. A restless mind is not a restful mind. This is also a good time to take a minute and make your to-do list for the following day. Dwelling on the minutiae of the morning could keep you awake. Jotting down a to-do list gets it off your mind and planned so you can rest easy.
Turn on your bedtime playlist
Create a calming playlist that you can shuffle before bed. Put in your headphones or turn it on low if you live alone. It doesn’t have to be all lullabies and classical music. Throw your favorite Sigur Rós songs or some R&B on there, whatever helps you feel calm and able to start letting go of mental detachments.
Make a cup of tea
Drinking a warm cup of tea or your favorite beverage can warm you up and get you in the mood for bedtime. Chamomile tea has been used for centuries to treat sleep disorders and insomnia. A turmeric golden milk latte is also lovely before bed. Turmeric is a superfood that helps you sleep and can help combat depression and inflammation, plus provide pain relief. Whatever your preference, make this nightly cup something you look forward to.
Take a shower with the lights low
Light a candle or dim the lights in the bathroom before you rinse off. You don’t have to make it a big ritual, no need to deep condition your hair before bed. But taking a shower an hour or so before bed can help you relax, and also induce better sleep because body temperature tends to drop after a warm soak. Ambience is crucial. Keep the lights down and that bedtime playlist flowing for the ultimate relaxing experience. This is also when you’ll want to incorporate your nighttime skincare and hygiene routine before moving back into the bedroom.
Before climbing into bed, take a moment to meditate, pray, or do some breathwork. The mind-calming practice can be done at bedtime—or any time during the day—to help fight fatigue and insomnia. By practicing how to relax, whenever you do it, you learn how to let go of the stresses of the day.
Not that I would ever discourage anyone from reading, but not all bedtime stories are created equal. Try opting for fiction rather than non-fiction before bedtime. With fiction, you are typically not being introspective or using as much brainpower as with non-fiction, so it can be more relaxing. With nonfiction, the experience can feel more reflective and alerting. You’ll also want to avoid reading anything too emotionally unsettling prior to bed. Need a good bedtime book recommendation? Here are some of our recent favorites:
Turn lights off
When you’re ready to close your eyes, make sure all lights are off (candles included) and the room is nice and dark. Most people take about 30 minutes to fall asleep, but everyone is different. If you struggle with falling asleep quickly it can feel frustrating and make it even harder to relax. If you find that you aren’t falling asleep after 30 minutes, it might help to get up, go into another room, have dim lighting only and repeat some of your routine. Don’t turn to your phone or laptop for restless entertainment, it will only hinder the process.
After a few minutes, go back to bed and try to fall asleep again.
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