Even if you take magnesium, melatonin and drink chamomile tea before bed, it’s still important to make sure you get into the right mental state before putting yourself to bed. When it comes to this — what is referred to as “sleep hygiene” — a nightly ritual is best. I find when I slack on my sleep hygiene and rush through or straight up skip my nightly ritual, I’m way more likely to wake up in the middle of the night and start overthinking anything and everything — the main saboteur of a good sleep. Cleaning up your mental space effectively before going to bed is what good sleep hygiene is all about. Here are some pointers:
Go to bed at the same time every night
Your brain releases melatonin — the hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles — half an hour before it thinks you want to go to sleep. Train it to “know” when to do this daily by going to bed at the same time (give or take) every night, even on weekends if you can.
Ready your bedroom
If your bedroom is a genuinely relaxing and enjoyable place to be, it’s way easier to get ready for bed and actually be ready for bed. Getting into a haphazardly made bed feels super crappy no matter what. Set it up nicely so it’s ready for you to sleep in and enticing! Invest in some decent pillows and sheets and covers and pajamas if you want. Keep your bed a designated space for only sleeping and lounging. Avoid doing work here — our brains are way too impressionable.
Ready your bod
The whole teeth-brushing, face-washing, skin-moisturizing ritual is important for your skin and also for your mind. Going through the meditative cleansing motions of this nightly ritual preps us for sleep physically and also mentally. I use essential oils before bed too (lavender has nervous system-calming properties), which I find work as another helpful sensory cue that it’s time for bed. If you work in an office and tend to get stiff, stretching before bed can also be a helpful way to relax.
Find a relaxing wind-down activity
Pick a chill activity to bring your mind down to a slower speed and fully separate the activities of the day from your night. The key is to do something that genuinely puts your mind at ease, not something that fills your mind with more content, or prompts intense emotions. It might be doing yoga, reading, writing in your journal, tidying up your space or preparing yourself for the next day. Something that makes you feel good, and “closes down” your day.
Do a guided meditation
They say having screens in the bedroom is a big offender, but I’d say it’s safe to say bringing one in to do a guided meditation is a-OK pre-bedtime. Meditating with an app like Headspace is a great for putting a stop to racing thoughts and soothing your nerves. Or check out a guided meditation on Youtube like The Honest Guys Guided Meditations or The Jason Stephenson Meditation Channel (just make sure you don’t start scrolling around Instagram afterward).