Bedtime rituals are nature’s sleeping pills: they prepare you for sleep by calming down your mind and body. After just a few days of performing the same bedtime ritual, your brain will start connecting the dots, building the habit and recognizing your bedtime ritual as a cue to start falling asleep. Here are some easy and fun bedtime rituals:
Meditation can be an effective way to combat sleep issues caused by stress. Some people have a hard time falling asleep because their mind wanders to tasks that they didn’t finish, pending deadlines, or what is on their plate the next morning. This is especially common for parents, entrepreneurs, and managers who feel greater responsibility for people dependent on their success. Meditation can help you focus on the present and calm your mind.
ACTION: Listen to a guided meditation before bed. We recommend this guided meditation from Inner Space.
Write in a Journal
Journaling can help you relax after a long day. Positive journaling such as keeping a gratitude journal focuses your mind on happy, calming thoughts. Writing down your feelings gives you time and space to process them. Doing a two minute mindsweep or similar activity where you write down everything on your mind can help you let go of those activities until the morning.
ACTION: Set a timer for 5 minutes and write in a journal before bed. Use a physical notebook, since light from computer monitors can keep you awake. Here are some journaling ideas.
Drink something warm
There’s something about a warm cup of milk or herbal tea that helps you fall asleep. Try warm milk if you’re increasing your calcium intake, honey ginger tea if you’re feeling under the weather, mint tea to settle your stomach or chamomile tea for stress relief. Be sure to drink herbal tea (green and black teas have caffeine) and avoid drinking so much that you’ll have to wake up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
ACTION: Drink one cup of milk or herbal tea before bed.
Try reading in dim light for longer than five minutes without fallings asleep– it’s hard! Reading helps you fall asleep for the same reason that meditation does: it takes your mind off the things that prevent you from falling asleep, such as work, relationship issues, and stress and forces you to focus on a single task. Avoid reading on an electronic device even if it’s in night mode.
ACTION: Put a book next to your nightstand. The next time that you have trouble falling asleep, put on a dim light and start reading.
Turn off the lights!
Bright artificial light can reset your circadian rhythm so that your body thinks it should be awake when it shouldn’t be. If you’ve had a hard time falling asleep after watching a movie or reading next to a bright light, that could be why. Turn off electronic devices at least one hour before bed– that includes your computer, phone, iPad, and television and dim the lights in your home if you can.
ACTION: Seriously, turn off your devices. Lock them in another room if you have to! You can also download screen dimmers such as f.lux.
One more thing: there are evening habits that can make it harder to fall asleep, including being in bright light, using electronic devices, drinking caffeinated beverages, eating a big meal, or exercising close to bed time. Avoiding doing those activities so that they don’t hamper your sleep.