Do you suffer from a sleep disorder? Do you go to bed tired but find yourself just laying there, wide awake for hours? Well, maybe you need a good bedtime routine. Just like a baby, we crave routines to get us through the day, but we often don’t use them.
Getting into the habit of doing something before bed each and every night can seriously help you get a better night’s sleep. So why not do it? Relaxing bedtime rituals are proven to calm your mind and body and prepare you for much-needed rest. So check out some of these and see which one sounds like a good fit for you.
Turn Off Technology
Studies show that technology and screen time can seriously affect our sleeping patterns and can cause some lasting issues. To give you a better idea of how this works, let’s talk about how our brains prepare to go to sleep in the first place. As it gets dark, our bodies produce a chemical called melatonin. The creation of this chemical signals to our brains that it’s nighttime, and then we start to become sleepy.
But when we stare at a bright screen, melatonin production is delayed which can cause a disruption in our sleep schedules. This is especially so if you have a lot of screen time right before bed. And let’s face it: nowadays, we all have a smartphone, tablet or laptop that we often take to bed with us.
To remedy this, try shutting down all devices about two hours before bedtime. I know, it sounds hard. We have this desire to be constantly connected. But I assure you, the sound sleep you get in return will be well worth the sacrifice!
On a separate note, but still under the umbrella of technology, if you have a wireless router or wireless devices in your bedroom, consider moving them to a different location. WiFi signals produce no sound, but they do give off an invisible tone that affects our brains and bodies. It can disturb our sleep, even contributing to insomnia.
If you thought this was a myth, think again! It’s scientifically proven that warm milk can help you sleep. But it’s not simply the milk that does the job, it’s something called tryptophan. This is a hormone found in milk products and can also be purchased in prescription form.
But to make it easier – and to avoid a trip to the doctor for a prescription – just warm up a nice cup of milk about 30 minutes before bed, and the tryptophan will spread through your body and stimulate the production of melatonin.
For the best results, go for the fattiest milk you can manage. The fattier, the better, because it will contain a heavier dose of tryptophan. But if you’re not a big milk drinker, are lactose intolerant or don’t want to fuss around with prescriptions pills, there are other products and foods that contain tryptophan. The most common one is turkey. Yep, that’s right! There’s a reason why Thanksgiving results in a major food coma. Turkey is loaded with tryptophan. Now, this isn’t exactly the ideal bedtime snack, but as a last resort, chow down some turkey meat a couple of hours before bed.
This is probably one of the most common relaxing bedtime rituals that have ever existed. And for good reason. A nice, warm bath does the body good. You can soak your worries away while loosening up any tight muscles. This is great for those who work a tough and physically demanding job. If you go to bed with tight and achy muscles, it can be difficult to fall and stay asleep throughout the night. And often, you can wake up feeling worse than when you went to bed.
But it’s not just the warm water that helps to lull you into bedtime mode. Adding scents to the water can help speed up the process. Try and steer clear of perfume filled scents and bubble baths, though as they can irritate your skin with frequent use.
Instead, aim for natural essential oils. Ones like chamomile and lavender work the best. That’s why a lot of baby products are infused with these smells. They’re derived from plants and are used to make oils, tea, lotions and dried flower products. All of these can help when you’re trying to create a stable sleeping routine.
No, this doesn’t mean you should book a massage with your local masseuse before bed each night. But it does mean that taking the time to nurture your skin and rub your muscles can definitely help create a bedtime routine to help you rest.
If you’ve got a partner who’s nice enough to help you out and even rub your feet, that’s even better. But try and target key areas such as the lower back, shoulders, neck and feet, especially if you have a demanding day job.
Using the aid of scents I mentioned earlier – like chamomile and lavender – in your oils and/or lotions, you can give yourself a little bedtime boost and kick start the night time routine. Pair it with a warm bath and a glass of warm milk afterward, and you could have yourself one heck of a bedtime ritual.
This may seem counterproductive, but it really does work. Just make sure you’re reading an actual printed book, and not something on a screen like your smartphone or an e-reader. Curl up in bed with all your comfy pillows and warm blankets and settle in for a few chapters.
Shouldn’t it do the opposite, because it stimulates your brain? Reading can make you sleepy as your eyes are focusing on the tiny words and moving across the page line after line, the muscles around your eyes grow tired and can begin to close after some time.
If a long work of fiction isn’t your thing, anything will do. A magazine, catalogue, newspaper, etc.
I know – you probably make fun of people who use sound machines. If not, then you probably don’t know what they are. Have you ever seen or heard of those little devices that sit next to the bed and produce the sounds of crashing waves, chirping crickets or even whale calls? Those are sound machines! But laugh not, as they work for a lot of people, and could certainly work for you. Sometimes, trying to fall asleep in a dead quiet room is worse than trying to do so in a loud one. The quiet is unsettling, and there’s nothing to soothe the brain.
Try your hand at a sound machine. Get one that offers different sounds so you can test them out and see which one, if any, work for you. They produce what some call “white noise” and help to create a steady rhythm. It’s a way to lull yourself to sleep and to help prevent waking in the middle of the night from random noise in an otherwise quiet house.
You may not know this, but temperature plays a big role in how well you sleep, and also how easily you fall asleep. This is because, as humans, we’re programmed to lower our body temperature at night. So if you’re trying to go to bed in a super warm room, you may not have the best of luck.
About an hour before bed, turn down your bedroom’s thermostat to about 60 degrees. Yes, this may seem chilly, but remember that you’re going to be crawling under warms blankets for the night. Your body’s temperature will rise after a few minutes of being bundled up.
By making sure to keep your room nice and cool each night before bed, you’re inadvertently creating a sleep routine for yourself by setting the perfect atmosphere for sleeping.
A Cup of Tea
This is one of my favorites. I can’t go to bed without a good cup of tea. With that being said, you should be picky with the types of tea you choose. Steer clear of anything with caffeine in it, for obvious reasons. The effects of caffeine can last up to 15 hours for some people.
But tea brewed from ingredients like chamomile, hops and rooibos are great for helping you sleep. They’re warm, soothing and contain agents that can stimulate sleep hormones.
Just like the effects of a sound machine, music can help you to create a relaxing bedtime ritual. Again, it produces a white noise in the room and a constant rhythm to hypnotize your brain. You should obviously avoid loud, fast tempo music and try your hand with some classical or instrumental music. Think of it like a baby’s musical mobile above their bed. It really does work!
We sleep best in dark rooms and cool temperatures. So, if the city lights are blaring in through the curtains, or your room is brightly lit by some sort of light, then you’re going to have a problem. Try creating a routine where you double check that the bedroom is secure and dark.
Turn off any lamps, hallway lights or small annoying lights from devices. Close the curtains and/or blinds, or invest in a set of great blackout drapes.
Did you enjoy this list of great relaxing bedtime routines? I’ve tried just about all of them, and swear by most. Remember, the most important things to consider are light, temperature, soothing sounds and relaxing your body. Making sure you get adequate and restful sleep is crucial to your health. So try some of these ideas and start sleeping better. If you’ve tried any of these or have some to add to the list, feel free to comment and share below!