What’s the last thing you normally do at night? If you tend to end the day by doing work, checking your email, paying bills, or cleaning the house, you could benefit from developing a nighttime routine. You might not notice how much the things you do right before bed affect your sleep – including how quickly you fall asleep, whether you stay asleep, and how restful your sleep is – but they can make a huge difference.
Instead of continuing your day at full speed until the second you fall into bed, taking some time to decompress in the evening should help you relax and feel calmer. Plus, if you follow the same routine right before bed each night, those activities will signal to your body that it’s time to start winding down and get ready for sleep. Try including the following bedtime activities in your new routine.
1. Turn off your screens and devices early.
The blue light emitted by screens like TVs, computers, and phones has been shown to throw off your body’s internal clock and suppress its production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. As a result, looking at screens shortly before bed can make it harder to sleep. The good news is that this is solved pretty easily: power down all your devices at least thirty minutes before you plan to go to bed (then use that time for the rest of your bedtime routine).
2. Drink a cup of tea.
Drinking herbal (non-caffeinated) tea is a nice way to relax in the evening, and certain teas even contain ingredients that promote sleep. Chamomile is the most common and is widely available, but teas that contain valerian root, lavender, and lemon balm can also help you relax and fall sleep.
3. Write in a gratitude journal.
You can even do this next activity while you’re drinking your tea. While many people swear by journaling, writing tomes about your daily experiences or inner feelings might not be for everyone. But anybody can benefit from keeping a gratitude journal; simply take a couple minutes each evening to write down three to five things you’re grateful for. People who make a point of practicing gratitude are usually happier and less stressed, and that’s a great way to end the day.
4. Take a shower or bath.
Taking a cleansing shower or relaxing bath can also help you slow down and unwind in the evenings. Even better, use a soap or bath salts with a relaxing scent like lavender. Just make sure the water isn’t too hot, or it could actually make sleeping more difficult.
5. Develop a yoga or stretching routine.
Lastly, a little bit of stretching or gentle yoga is the perfect thing to do right before bed. So many people hold tension in their neck, shoulders, and hips, and stretching them out can go a long way toward helping with relaxation. It also helps alleviate pain and soreness, especially for people who sit most of the day or work out frequently (or both).