Ah, sleep — your best friend and at times, your worst enemy. If you are anything like me, you look forward to the evening as you place aside your to-do list and climb between your crisp, refreshing sheets. However, everyone has those nights where your brain won’t turn off, or you just feel restless. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do before you go to bed to ensure that your night is restful, and you wake up feeling ready to tackle the day.
Don’t drink caffeine before bed
It is a good rule of thumb to stop drinking caffeine at about 2 o’clock. The whole purpose of coffee and caffeinated tea is to perk you up and keep your brain firing on all cylinders through the afternoon slump. Therefore, drinking your favorite beverage right before bed could leave you wired. Drink decaf coffee if you want the taste, or stick to calming herbal tea such as chamomile.
Stick to a schedule
The importance of a sleep schedule cannot be overstated. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day and follow a routine to tell your brain that sleep is approaching. In order for your body to get on a good cycle, you need to stick to the schedule even on weekends and holidays. Though you may want to sleep in till 10 a.m. on Saturday, it could actually make you more tired.
Listen to white noise
Putting on white noise such as soothing ocean sounds or wind through the trees could help give you something to focus on and drown out any distracting sound such as your partner snoring or road noise. Place the white noise machine (or your phone) on a timer and let yourself relax into the rhythm.
Take a melatonin supplement
If you suffer from severe and frequent insomnia, you may take heavy sleeping pills with dangerous side effects. Instead of having to deal with groggy mornings and headaches that may come along with certain medications, try going for the more natural alternative known as melatonin. Your body produces this sleep hormone naturally, so taking a melatonin supplement can help defeat insomnia for good. Though there are rarely side effects from melatonin, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking it. Especially if you plan on using it long term.
Turn off your electronics
Many people fall asleep to the TV or while scrolling social media to the detriment of their sleep quality. The blue light from electronics can seriously interfere with your bodies cycles and prevent you from falling asleep quickly. Turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed and read a book instead. This is also a great time to unwind and journal or think over the events of the day without distraction.
Spend at least 10 minutes every night before bed, stretching and relieving tension from your muscles. Be sure to give special attention to every muscle group and imagine the stress pouring out of your body. Even merely stretching out on the floor, or touching your toes are good ways to prepare for bed. With that in mind, it is not a good idea to do any sort of cardio or heart-pounding exercise before bed as this can raise your heart rate and give you a burst of energy.
Place an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom and start it about an hour before you go to bed. Use calming essential oils with known sleep-aid effects such as lavender or chamomile. Plus, if you continue this routine, your body will begin to associate the scent with sleep and will naturally start to power down.
Take a hot bath
Utilize your bathtub and draw yourself a hot bath. Spend about 15 minutes (or more) soaking in the tub and listen to calming music or drink a glass of tea. The warmth will cradle your body and make you sleepy.
Cool your room
A hot sleep environment is asking for a terrible night of tossing and turning as you try to get comfortable. You wake up in the middle of the night to throw the covers off your body, or you dangle a foot over the bed to try to get some airflow. The best way to avoid this is to keep your room cold (The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 60-67 degrees F) and turn the fan on. You can always add more blankets as needed, but you can only take off so many layers.
What are your bedtime rituals? Let us know in the comments below!