Bedtime Habits: Tips To Have A Healthier Sleep
Sleep is our body’s time to heal, repair, and restore itself. Laying out rituals to encourage a good night’s sleep is an essential step in self-care. Here are some of my own holistic rituals for a restorative bedtime routine.
1. Prepare For Tomorrow
There is immense value in getting a sense of what tomorrow looks like before the previous day ends. I used to be a headless chicken in the morning until I realized that there was no reason to be in such a state. All it took was a little night-prep. I started this by creating a clear to-do list for the next day. As well as being physically rewarding (I wasn’t hassled in the morning), the psychological benefits were comforting. After I wrote down my plan for the next day, or meal prepped, or laid out my clothes, I felt my mind relax. I was organized. I was prepared. This meant that when my head hit the pillow my brain wasn’t worrying about what tomorrow looked like.
The real benefits of preparing for the next day go far deeper than just physical and psychological. The more that you get done ahead of time, in general in life, the more time you have to focus on what’s really important. You give your mind the space to relax and use its energy on more worthwhile causes than “I wonder what I’ll have for lunch tomorrow” or “I guess we’ll be spending another hour tomorrow morning deciding what to wear”. Take the time to prepare so that you have the time to use your thoughts wisely. It sounds silly, but if you try it, you’ll see what I mean!
There is something deeply satisfying and relaxing about feeling clean. Before going to bed each night, take the time to (physically) wash away the day. Whether that’s removing your makeup or indulging in an aromatic bubble bath – make sure you cleanse before bed. When you put your head down for the night, a clean environment is essential. It calms the mind and prepares you for sleep. This is connected to the fact that your skin needs to breath and the optimal time for this is during slumber. Your body knows this so when you’re clean the chances of deep sleep are higher.
Having a shower before bed has the added benefit of cleansing your mind so that by the time you get into your bed you’re fresh outside and inside. There’s a reason that ‘shower thoughts’ are named that. I know I’m not the only one who uses my time in the shower to figure out life’s bigger problems. I have arguments in there, I resolve world conflicts, I sing, I do it all. So, by the time I get to bed, I’m all thought-out and ready to doze off.
3. Bedtime Tea
To help wind down before bed and get a better night’s sleep, I like to sip on some chamomile and lavender tea (it’s called Nighttime Blend and honestly, it’s like a lullaby for my senses). The calming effects of tea can be attributed to the presence of the amino acid L-Theanine. This protein increases the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain encouraging a more relaxing nights sleep.
There’s nothing like a good herbal tea to make you feel like you’re really taking care of yourself. When I think of tea I imagine myself cozied up in bed with a good book, fluffy socks on, and my fairy lights shining in all their glory. And that’s exactly what your pre-sleep routine should look like! The benefits of herbal tea are numerous. Depending on the herb they can soothe your mind and relax your brain. They provide antioxidants and a burst of hydration -- both things that are great for nourishing your body while you sleep.
I’m a yoga lover so this bedtime hack is a no-brainer for me. Stretching before bed encourages your body to get into a restorative state. It relaxes your body which is exactly what you want to be doing right before bed. You let go of any built-up tension and allow your body to release endorphins that calm the mind and put you in a good mood.
A pre-sleep stretch lowers your energy levels after a hyped-up or stressful day. As if that wasn’t enough, developing a calming routine before bed helps you to stay asleep, not just fall asleep faster. This means you’re more energized for the next day before it’s even started. Your body melts into bed after a good stretch and the best part is that you can do them while you’re already in bed! Sounds like my kind of exercise.
5. Bedtime Reading
We’re all guilty of a social media binge before bed (for some of us it’s the only time to really catch up). That being said, swapping your phone for a book is a detox for your mind. It slows down your brain and prepares you for a good night’s sleep. It should come as no surprise that our minds are stimulated by external factors.
Backlit devices send messages to our brains that it’s daytime and therefore ‘awake time’. By switching off technology an hour before you plan on going to bed, you give your mind time to mentally prepare for sleep. As if that wasn’t enough the benefits of reading go beyond just your sleep. Reading helps your overall brain function and enhances memory. I know I need all the brain enhancing I can get, so a good book is pretty up there in my bedtime rituals.
Personally, the reason that reading helps me to fall asleep better is that I can temporarily escape into another world. This reduces any stress or anxiety I may be experiencing from the day’s events. We attempt to achieve a similar sensation when we scroll through our social media pages, but this actually increases anxiety rather than reduces it. Curling up with a good book instead of your phone is just one way to untangle your mind before bed.
6. Essential Oils
Aromatherapy triggers responses in the brain that encourage psychological and even physical health. These oils balance out hormone levels, aid the immune and digestive systems, and can reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety. These are all essential (sorry, I had to) bodily functions that occur while we sleep and aid our slumber.
Aromatherapy has been used for centuries as an alternative medicine to treat numerous conditions. Our sense of smell is wired directly to the brains center of emotion so it’s an ideal quick-fix to get your mind ready for bed. Not only are you better able to fall asleep, but essential oils also relieve disrupted sleep and can improve your overall sleep quality. Whether you use a diffuser or just apply some drops onto your pillow this is a must-add to your bedtime rituals. If you’re not sure where to start, try Lavender Essential Oil to aid a deep, natural slumber.
Caring for ourselves starts with the obvious: better sleeping habits. Our brain detoxifies when we sleep allowing us to function at our best during our waking hours. If you’re looking to enhance your holistic evening routine for a better night’s sleep, start with some of the rituals mentioned here and develop a personalized night-time schedule.
“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together” Thomas Dekker