One thing that affects the length and quality of your sleep is how ready for sleep you are. If you go to bed stressed in a problem-solving mode, you can’t expect a restful night. A bedtime ritual can be the answer especially if you have a hard time falling asleep or if you often wake up during the night.
Binge-watching mindless TV shows, eating junk food, or having a glass of wine are all variations of a bedtime ritual. They do help you unwind but they also make it pretty hard to have a good night’s sleep after. Too much blue light from TV screens and too much food and alcohol in your belly all mess with your melatonin production. If you want a good restorative sleep, you should swap these for a different ritual. Here are four good options.
Create a self-care routine
The best first step to your routine will be turning off the TV and the computer. If you like reading, do that next. Just make sure to use yellow or red light, not blue. And when it comes to book selection, pick something light and positive, nothing politically charged, educational or dramatic. After that, do something to care for your body. You can try light stretching or yoga followed by a warm shower. Add a facial or hair massage to truly relax and head to bed after. Sticking to your routine will create cues that prepare your body for sleep so you can start snoozing as soon as your head hits the pillow.
Write it out
Spend a few minutes writing your thoughts down before sleep to help let go of them. Write down your tasks for tomorrow, something that annoyed you that day, or something you’re anxious about. Finish it off with something you’re grateful for and you’re done. This mini-journaling habit not only helps you fall asleep with a clear head but also helps you reflect and gain perspective on your life.
Try a guided meditation
Meditation is something that will definitely help clear your head and get you ready for sleep. If you don’t know how to do it or aren’t interested in the spiritual side of meditation, you’re a perfect candidate for guided meditation. You can find examples of these on YouTube or download an app called Headspace. Then just close your eyes and follow the voice guiding you.
Do a body-scan
If all else fails and you’re still lying in bed not sleepy enough, try a technique called body-scan. Focus on the muscles in your foot, tense them for a second and then relax. Then continue with your calf muscle, then your thighs, all the way up to your facial muscles. Go through each muscle individually tensing and relaxing them and you will see that when you’re done you will be physically and psychologically much more relaxed.