7 Relaxing Nighttime Routines That'll Change Your Life
You know the scenario all too well: It's Monday, and you promised yourself to get to bed early this week. But before you know it, it's 1:30 a.m., you've just watched the entire second season of Veep, compulsively responded to 10 work emails, and can't stop thinking about tomorrow's deadlines. If you frequently have trouble falling asleep at night, a number of factors could be to blame, says Dr. Richard Shane, behavioral sleep specialist, Ph.D., and founder of Sleep Easily. We tapped the professional to help us come up with nighttime routines for every personality type. Do you love to wine and dine, have young children, or work overtime? Here's how to optimize your evenings for your best sleep yet.
"Eating a large meal close to bedtime can interrupt your sleep," says Dr. Shane. Instead of focusing on falling asleep, your digestive system is going into overdrive, working to digest the food you just ate. He suggests avoiding consumption three hours before hitting the sack.
Instead of eating, try establishing a nighttime beauty routine with a face mask and cream. If you must eat something before bed, a handful of almonds will actually help put you to sleep, thanks to their tryptophan and magnesium.
Your Formula: Water + Face Mask + Almonds
Exercising too close to bedtime can hinder your sleep pattern. "You need sufficient time for your body to slow down and cool off," says Dr. Shane. He recommends leaving at least three hours between exercise and bedtime. If you frequently hit the gym after work, try meditation at night to help your body relax.
Another way to mitigate the body heat? Invest in some lighter bedding. "When we sleep, our body temperature drops," says Dr. Shane. "Having a cooler room temperature helps the body cool down," allowing your brain to enter REM. An ideal body temperature for a good night's rest is a brisk 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. We suggest investing in a smart home thermostat.
Your Formula: Meditation + Thin Sheets + Smart Thermostat
It's a well-known fact that caffeine can keep you up at night, but did you also know it can irritate your stomach and make your heart race? If you frequently find yourself tossing and turning at night, Dr. Shane recommends restricting your caffeine consumption to the morning hours.
At night, opt for an herbal infusion instead. Turn on soothing tunes, and draw a bubble bath to help your body relax.
Your Formula: Soothing Music + Herbal Tea + Bubble Bath
"A clutter-free room helps calm the mind," says Dr. Shane, and we neat-freaks know this all too well. If you find your mind spinning with a million thoughts at night, your bedroom clutter could be to blame.
Before bedtime, tidy up your room completely. Spritz your pillow with a lavender spray that will help you relax. Writing down your thoughts might also help clear your mind before hitting the hay, and give you some much-needed shut-eye.
Your Formula: Storage Baskets + Journaling + Lavender Aromatherapy
When the pressure's on at work, it's hard to completely shut it down, but Dr. Shane suggests it's imperative to make a habit to end your workday in order to feel truly rested. "Answering emails late at night can activate your brain, making sleep difficult," he says.
Instead of digging into a pile of work after dinner, "make a to-do list for the next day to help you from overthinking about what tomorrow will bring," Dr. Shane suggests. This small task will make you feel in control and put your mind at ease. If you still find yourself thinking about work, try digging into a light and engaging novel. If all else fails, melatonin vitamins can help signal your brain that it's lights out.
Your Formula: A Novel + A To-Do List + Melatonin
We get it—it's nearly impossible not to check your phone or any electronic device for one hour prior to bedtime, but it's a culprit that might be hindering your sleep patterns more than you think. Additionally, while sleep measuring apps can help some adopt healthier resting habits, Dr. Shane has found that they can actually create sleeping difficulties for others. "Some people become too vigilant about their sleep," he says. "If measurement apps are actually increasing your anxiety about sleep, try to not rely on them so much."
Instead of staring at your iPhone's bright lights before bed, try a noise machine, and give your eyes a rest. If you must stare at something, opt for a paper book that won't trigger your brain into awakeness. Invest in blackout curtains that will leave your sleep undisturbed, especially if you need to catch up on z's on weekends.
Your Formula: Paper Book + Noise Machine + Blackout Curtains
As parents, it's a guarantee that you're sleep-deprived, so it's important to establish strict sleeping habits in your home. "Try getting into a good bedtime routine with your children while you prepare them for bed," says Dr. Shane. He suggests avoiding any upsetting TV shows, which can activate the nervous system.
He suggests dimming lights around the house to signal bedtime. This will help everyone wind down. Once you've put your children to bed, try some gentle stretching to help your body and mind relax. Draw a warm bath sprinkled with bath salts, lavender, or tuberose essential oils.
Your Formula: Stretching + Dimmers + Bath Salts
Do you have any tried-and-tested tricks to help fall asleep faster? Share your wisdom with us.