The sweet, calming smell of lavender fills the room. Small, gentle stretches on a yoga mat provide a sense of serenity. The easy 1,2,3 nightly routine of teeth brushing, bathing, and reading a book allow for a night of easy, peaceful sleep. Doesn’t this sound relaxing? This could be a reality for you every night. The importance of a night routine is essential to your health and well-being. The repetition of the routine gives you something to look forward to every night, and also provides a sense of accomplishment and finality of the day when you complete the last step of the night routine.
What are some things you can do to wind down from a busy day, calm the mind, and prepare for a restful sleep? Here are 7 different ways to help you reach a sense of calm right before you drift off to sleep. Choose all seven, or just a few of your favorite activities from below to make up your nighttime routine.
- Mindfulness exercises.
Counting sheep doesn’t always have the intended effect for everybody. Mindfulness has been proven to reduce stress, negative affect, and rumination while attending to both external and internal stimuli in the moment-to-moment experience. Headspace, a mindfulness app, has numerous audio recordings of breathing and mindfulness activities specifically designed to aid sleep.
Lavender has been studied and regarded as one of the most comforting, soothing scents. One study researched the effects of lavender on sleep quality, and it found that sleep quality improved when lavender was inhaled prior to bedtime. Lavender has a re-balancing and long-lasting effect on the sleep cycle. An aromatherapy oil diffuser is a great resource to have in your bedroom. Simply drop in a few drops of lavender oil and enjoy its calming effect. Another great way to use your sense of smell in your nightly routine is linen spray. There are many different pillow and linen sprays available, or you can make your own with essential oils! Spray it on your pillow or sheets before bedtime.
- Take a bath.
A nice hot bath can be the perfect thing to add to your nightly routine. The heat of the bath can help bring sleep faster. Add some lavender Epsom salts or a bubble bath to enhance this relaxing experience.
- Read a book/avoid electronics.
The blue light from cell phones and electronics can be harmful not only to the quality of sleep, but also to the timing of the nightly routine. Electronic usage in bed tends to increase delayed sleep. More often than not, people get caught up in their electronics and lose track of time. This can throw the entire routine off balance. Social media on electronics can also contribute to a negative mood and undesirable comparisons. One good way to ensure you’re not tempted by the phone before bed is to charge it in a room other than the bedroom. These damaging practices do not add to healthy, restorative sleep. Instead of reaching for your cell phone, try to read a few chapters from a good book before falling asleep.
Gentle yoga stretches and positions have wonderful benefits. Restorative, or yin, yoga is a type of slow-paced yoga practice in which the person holds each pose for a longer period of time. You can try it for as short as 5 minutes or a more lengthy yoga session. This can help you prepare your body and mind for bed.
Make a soothing playlist and listen to it every night before you fall asleep. Attending to every sense in a certain order can be a good template for your routine. Perhaps listening to classical music or nature sounds, like a babbling brook or a thunderstorm, can attend to your sense of sound.
- Make a routine.
Steps 1-6 can be used to create your own set routine every night. Maybe some things work better for you than others. Whatever your routine may be, stick with it. As you move along in your routine every night, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and stability. Your routine can be as simple as completing three short tasks in order, such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, and saying a prayer before you get into bed.
Sleep hygiene is important for your physical and mental health. A nightly routine can contribute to your overall wellbeing. It is a good feeling to be able to wind down after a busy day, release stress, and look forward to restful, restorative sleep.