A successful day starts the night before with a solid nighttime routine. There are no apps or gadgets that can replace good-quality sleep, so here are 8 tips to help set you up for a night of restorative, deep rest.
In our faced-paced world, it can seem almost impossible to get a good night's sleep. And too many of us know the drill: you don’t sleep well one night, then the next day you’re not focused or present, your stress levels increase, and you're left worried about what tonight has in store for your sleep, only to start the cycle again.
If you're looking for more restful sleep, The Ultimate Nighttime Routine for Better Sleep will help you take back control of your sleep so you can sleep well.
The Ultimate Nighttime Routine For Better Sleep
Getting enough quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. With a connection to almost every single system in your body, not getting enough sleep impacts your long-term brain health, memory, and detoxification, and increases your risk for chronic diseases like cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
The quality of your sleep matters just as much as quantity, if not more. Most researchers agree we need somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep for optimal health. Through trial and error, I've found that 8 hours is my sweet spot, and I actually feel more tired if I sleep beyond that regularly.
Your best bet here is to experiment and see what works best for your body. Keep in mind that needs also vary depending on physical activity, age, and stress levels. That being said, implementing a nighttime routine that works for you can help you create the right conditions for longer and more restorative sleep.
Here are my top 8 science-backed tips that you can incorporate into your evening routine to help set you up for a good night's rest.
1. Try journaling
Often times we can't fall asleep because we start ruminating on the day or start planning for the next day ahead. It's as if when your head hits the pillow all of these plans, lists, and scenarios come out to play since we haven't had a chance to think about them during the day.
Taking the time to get these thoughts on paper helps to address the thoughts that build up over the day, work them out, and then let them go. A simple journal prompt you can use before bed is asking yourself "What came up for me today?" and let yourself journal whatever comes up without judgment. Then ask yourself "What can I let go of?" and allow yourself to let go of any thoughts, worries, plans, or things that are outside of your control that may be contributing to stress.
This is a simple but powerful exercise and can be done in just 5-10 minutes.
2. Use an eye mask
Light is one of the primary things we can control to minimize sleep disruption. If there's a lot of light flooding in, then your circadian rhythm thinks it's time to be awake, so it suppresses melatonin production, aka the sleep hormone. If it's dark, then more melatonin is produced and your body thinks it's time for bed.
Using an eye mask has been one of the most simple but effective things I have done for improving my duration and quality of sleep
When you meditate, you focus on your breath and bring your mind's attention to the present moment. This helps you break the train of your everyday thoughts and evokes the relaxation response, telling your body it's ok to rest and repair.
When done before bedtime, meditation may help reduce insomnia and sleep troubles by promoting overall calmness.
If you’re new to meditation, start small with just five minutes a day and aim for consistency. Get started with my free meditations here.
4. Take magnesium
Magnesium is one of the most crucial minerals to overall health but the truth is—most of us are actually deficient in it. Our bodies rely on magnesium to help facilitate over 600 enzymatic reactions, so it’s no wonder that low levels can contribute to fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, and headaches. Plus, your body’s natural magnesium stores get used up when you’re stressed, so supplementing with magnesium may help.
I use Magnesium Glycinate before bed and find it helps calm my muscles and makes me less anxious. If you decide to try magnesium, always be sure to check with your doctor first.
5. Mindfully caffeinate
Just one medium cup of drip coffee can disrupt sleep, even if taken early in the day. And if you're one of the millions of people who metabolize caffeine slowly, you're at greater risk of interrupted sleep as well. Figure out your sensitivity to caffeine and adjust from there.
If you're drinking caffeine in the afternoon, it may be worthwhile to swap it for a non-caffeinated beverage and see how it affects your sleep. Some of my favorites include herbal tea, kombucha, green juice, and sparkling water.
6. Minimize blue light exposure
Watching TV or scrolling Instagram right before bed is probably one of the worst things we can do for our sleep. The blue light emitted from our devices lowers melatonin production by up to 50%, messing with our natural sleep cycle.
I know it's hard for all of us, but it's helpful to turn off your electronics 1-2 hours before bed and at the very least 30 minutes. You can use this extra time to journal, read, take a bath, and do whatever else will put you in a calm, easy state.
7. Legs up the wall
A Harvard study found that people who consistently practiced yoga for just eight weeks slept better and longer than those who didn't practice.
If you do one pose, make it this one: legs up the wall. This is a restorative, gentle pose that can help relax the body and set you up for more restful sleep. Simply place your legs up the wall, allowing your back to rest on the bed. I love doing this while reading or practicing some gentle breathing exercises. Start with a few minutes at the end of the day and work your way up to 10 minutes.
8. Upgrade your environment
The best environment for good sleep is dark, cool, and quiet. It may be helpful to reduce clutter and make sure your bedroom feels like a place you actually enjoy being in.
Consider investing in sheets made of natural fibers like linen or cotton, adding earplugs for noise cancellation, using blackout curtains to further block light exposure, and adding plants and natural elements to make your room feel like your personal sanctuary.
Other Ways to Optimize Your Sleep
Here are a few other tips you might want to try and include in your routine. The goal here is to find what works for you and make sure it feels good. Don't pick everything from the list, or make your routine too long, the last thing you want is to be stressing about your nighttime routine.
- Read for 20 minutes before bed
- Reflect on what you're grateful for
- Aim for 30 minutes of movement each day
- Wear cozy PJs made of natural fabrics
- Set a consistent bedtime
- Avoid eating 2 hours before bed
- Put your phone on airplane mode
- Listen to soft music
- Try lavender essential oil
- Use a white noise machine
- Drink a cup of tea or warm golden milk
Final Thoughts on Sleep
I hope this nighttime routine helps inspire ways you can upgrade your sleep routine and feel more at ease at the end of your day. In addition to practicing meditation, journaling, and changing your physical environment, there are several other strategies that may help you create a routine that works for you. Pick a few from this list and come back to it as needed.
If you're looking for stress-relieving practices and meditations to help you feel more at ease, check out my free guided meditations to get started today. They're easy to follow and a great addition to your nighttime routine.