Bedtime is easy, right? You put on your PJs, hop in bed, and just fall asleep.
Sounds simple, right?
If you’re like a lot of people, falling asleep can be a little more complicated.
Often, falling asleep is interrupted by stressful thoughts. Like reliving the worst parts of the day or worrying about things that may not even matter. You know, like that super embarrassing thing you did in 5th Grade.
Even when you do get to sleep, it’s not always the best quality sleep.
Establishing a nighttime routine can go a long way towards helping you get to sleep faster and enjoying better quality sleep, too.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few suggestions to get you going:
Step#1: Take a Warm Bath
One of the best things in life is a warm bath. Candles, bath bombs, calming music, and all! A pre-bed bath isn’t just a luxurious way to unwind from the day — it’s a research-backed way to improve your sleep, too.
Studies suggest that the drop in body temp after your bath may help you feel sleepier faster.
For best results, take your bath 1-2 hours before bed, giving your body plenty of time to warm up and then gradually cool down as you approach your bedtime. It’s this gradual drop in body temperature that signals to your brain that it’s getting close to sleepy time.
Short on time? Try a nice warm shower instead. You’ll get all the same benefits, even if you don’t have time for a sudsy soak.
Step #2: Indulge In a Full-On Skincare Treatment
Chances are, your bedtime ritual already includes a good face washing and teeth brushing. Take it one step further and really treat yourself to an indulgent pre-bed skincare routine.
Face mask, eye cream, thick moisturizer. The works!
Ever wake up with baggy eyes or a puffy face? While you sleep, your body sends restorative fluids to organs and tissues that are in need of repair and revitalization. Puffiness and dark circles are the result of cutting your sleep session short, allowing some of that fluid to “get stuck.”
Because of your skin’s incredible ability to repair itself overnight, it’s extra-important to make sure you show it some love before bed!
If time allows or you’re feeling the need for some extra self-care, show yourself some love with a luxurious skincare routine. Pop on a gold sheet mask, lay back, and insist that everyone call you Midas.
Here are a few basics to consider keeping in your nighttime skincare arsenal:
- Oil-based cleanser (try out this oil cleansing method from Wellness Mama)
- Soothing toner with anti-inflammatory ingredients like rose, chamomile, and aloe
- Rich nighttime moisturizer (consider options with vitamin C for an extra boost of collagen!)
There’s no scientific study linking your anti-aging, hyaluronic acid moisturizer to better sleep (darn it!). But there is a very good reason for establishing a self-care routine before bed. Rituals are very powerful. A pre-bed ritual can prepare you and your body for sleep.
If you’re going to engage in a face-washing ritual, you might as well make it one that will help you look even better when you wake up! So reach for your favorite nighttime anti-aging serum and start slathering.
Don’t Have a Lot of Time?
Savor your normal skincare regimen. Think about how your skin feels while you’re cleansing and applying your moisturizer. With a little bit of mindfulness, even a simple routine can feel like a meditation.
Step #3: Prep Your Sleep Space
Ready for a truth bomb that you probably already know?
Your sleep space matters!
If your bedroom is filled with clutter, unfolded laundry, or you just haven’t washed your sheets in a month (you would never do that, right?) ... it might be affecting the quality of your sleep.
So, change those sheets! Fluff your pillows, make your bed, paint the walls. Put the laundry somewhere else. Do whatever you need to in order to make your sleep space the most relaxing it can be.
Step #4: Start Journaling
We’re not necessarily talking about a “Dear Diary” situation, but maybe that’s what it means to you!
Journaling can be an incredible stress reliever. It’s a great way to clear your mind before bedtime (or anytime!). Journaling can help you work through problems and release any unwanted emotions simply by jotting down your thoughts for the day.
New to journaling? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Gratitude Journaling: note anything you are grateful for that day
- Clear Negativity: write down any negative thoughts and throw away the page
- Keeping a Diary (you can even put a lock on it if you want!)
- Plan Out Your Next Day
- Vision Journaling (kind of like a vision board, but in writing)
There are no rules for journaling. Doodle and color on the pages. Add stickers. Clip out pictures from magazines or favorite quotes. Make it your own!
Step #5: Read a Book
Remember when your mom used to read to you at bedtime? How you had to have at least one story before bed? Or, maybe two or three?
Reading a book when it’s almost time to fall asleep may reduce the amount of time it takes to nod off.
Reading takes your mind to another world. It blocks out everything that’s going on in your life and lets your mind ‘take a break’ from reality.
Unlike TV or your smartphone, reading a book offers an escape without the sleep-hindering blue light that screens emit. Studies have shown that blue light like that emitted by your tablet, computer, or phone can suppress the production of sleep hormones, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
Pro Tip: you don’t have to read a physical book to get the same benefits. Listening to an audiobook or your favorite podcast can also have the same effect and give you some serious nostalgia. Just be sure you’re not staring at your phone screen for too long as you select your favorite audiobook.
A couple of things to keep in mind if you’re listening instead of reading:
- Use an audiobook or podcast app that has a sleep timer
- If you do go for a podcast, try one that’s story-driven. No one wants to fall asleep to the nightly news. Imagine the dreams you could have! Yikes.
Remember: Your Routine Is Your Own
Building a nighttime routine can be a very comforting and wonderful thing. Did we mention routines are good for your health?
Think of it as your own powerful bedtime ritual.
It doesn’t have to be solemn or a whole ceremony, but doing a few things in a specific order can give you a fantastic sense of control over how well you sleep and signal to your brain and body that it’s time to chill out. You can leave the overthinking for tomorrow.
Try it out tonight! You could have the best night’s sleep you’ve had in a while.