How do you wind down before bed? There’s nothing wrong with pouring yourself a glass of wine and tuning into the evening news. However, these behaviors can make it more challenging to get the solid night’s rest that you need to function at your peak.
That’s not to say that you don’t need time to unwind and practice a little self-care. Such activities aren’t fluff — they’re the stuff that keeps you healthy and sane enough to deal with budget meetings and lengthy soccer practices. The trick is to make your nighttime wind-down routine both healthy and enjoyable, and here are ten ways to do so.
Are you still using your cellphone for an alarm clock? Please work on breaking that habit immediately. The blue light from electronic devices can interrupt the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and leave you tossing and turning. Sure, you could put it face down — but who can resist the siren song of an alert?
Create a charging station in your kitchen or living room. Thirty minutes before bed, have everyone unplug their tablets and phone and put them in sleep mode. Doing so will make it easier for the humans in the house to get their shuteye.
2. Have a Sleep-Inducing Snack
Does your tummy sometimes wake you up with a growl at midnight? Before heading to bed, snack on some mixed nuts. Almonds, along with other nuts, contain naturally occurring melatonin to help you fall asleep. Plus, they have filling fats and protein that will keep your stomach from disturbing your slumber with a roar.
3. Trade Your Nightcap for a Cuppa
A glass of wine can make you drowsy, but it can also disrupt your sleep patterns later in the evening. There’s a reason 18% of people who report problem alcohol use develop insomnia when only 10% of non-drinkers do. Even if you stick to the recommended daily intake of one glass for women, the diuretic action of alcohol can wake you up to use the restroom.
Instead, sip a herbal brew. Here are some of the best teas to ease you into dreamland:
- Valerian: This herb has a stellar reputation for helping you enjoy a higher quality sleep once you go under, but it takes a while to build up enough to make you drowsy. Make it a routine ingredient in your pot.
- Chamomile: You can grow fresh chamomile in your garden or a container and add a few flowers to your evening brew.
- Passionflower: This tea is a fabulous calmative, and it tastes divine with a dollop of honey.
- Lavender: Spritz the essential oil on your pillow and add a few blossoms to your tea.
4. Read Your Kids a Story
Do you remember loving bedtime stories when you were little? Your kiddos love them, too, so practice a soothing activity with your family by reading your children a story when you tuck them in for the night. Make it something uplifting — save trip-trapping bridge trolls for daylight hours.
5. Play With Your Pets
Do your babies all have fur? Spend some time grooming and playing with them before bed. People who suffer from anxiety often find a cat provides a safe and calming constant in their lives. Some pet parents claim that the gentle hum of a purr motor reduces their blood pressure and chronic pain symptoms.
6. Cuddle With Your Spouse
Did you know that, as the song says, love is, indeed, a drug? When you cuddle with your spouse or partner, your body releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps you deal with stress more effectively. It also lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can keep you tossing and turning.
7. Tune Into Something Uplifting
With the world the way it is, tuning into a news broadcast before bed is a sure ticket on the one-way train to Nightmareville. Instead of filling your head with scenes of violence, even on television shows, why not watch something uplifting? You could watch a 20-minute YouTube video about how to perform a skill you always wanted to master. You can also zone out to gorgeous nature scenes — various artists record videos of aerial photographs paired with tranquil music, all for free.
8. Tie Yourself Into a Pretzel
Doing a HIIT class too close to bedtime can keep you counting sheep because high-intensity exercise can increase cortisol levels. Plus, those endorphins that help you during the day become problematic when it’s time to rest. Instead, opt for a 15 to 20-minute yoga workout. You can stretch out solo or find free videos on YouTube.
9. Lose Yourself in Sudsy Bliss
There’s nothing like sinking into a hot, sudsy bath to ease tired and sore muscles. Make it calming by brewing some chamomile tea to add to the water. Pro-tip, moms — you can add a bit of herbal liquid to a colicky baby’s bath — it might help to quiet them.
10. Embrace Your Inner Zen
Finally, your brain is a veritable sponge in the twilight zone between sleep and waking. Indeed, some people experience hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations during this transition because susceptibility is so potent. Harness this power by tuning into a guided meditation video on YouTube immediately before you hit the hay. Doing so can program your brain to think more positively — it works.
Practice Self-Care in 10 Minutes Each Evening and Sleep More Soundly
Self-care is vital, but people often indulge in unhealthy habits to treat themselves, like drinking alcohol or binge eating. Opt for one of these healthy suggestions for evening relaxation, and you’ll sleep more soundly while improving your quality of life.
Jennifer Landis writes about parenting, self-care, and healthy living. She enjoys hanging out with her daughters drinking tea all day long. Tweet her cute baby photos @JenniferELandis or check out her latest posts on Mindfulness Mama.