This post is sponsored by NOW Foods. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I like to joke that there are two types of people in each relationship: those who hit the pillow and fall asleep in 0.5 seconds and those that toss and turn for 30+ minutes before finally passing out. For the longest time, I would sit there and grudgingly listen to my husband snooze until I finally took some steps to set myself up with a healthy sleep routine. Setting up a healthy and consistent sleep routine can make a huge difference in falling asleep faster and more restful zzz’s.
How Does a Sleep Routine Help You Sleep Better?
A healthy and meaningful pre-bedtime wind down routine can do wonders for helping you lull off to sleep faster and help provide a more restful and deep sleep. One of the things that most of us struggle with the most when it comes to a bedtime routine is time. We’re so busy during our days that often the evenings can feel like one of the few moments that we truly have to ourselves, but taking an extra 15 to 30 minutes to settle your mind and body to facilitate sleep can make such a difference in the quality and quantity of your sleep. It’s no secret that sleep is the cornerstone to optimal health, and has a huge impact on mood and productivity as well.
Why Is a Bedtime Routine Important?
Creating a consistent bedtime routine is important for many reasons:
- Gives your overactive mind time to settle and calm.
- A consistent routine is a surefire way to train your body and mind to prepare for sleep. A bedtime routine helps your brain & body separate day from night, leading to falling asleep quicker.
- Bedtime routines decrease worry and stress by allowing you to address future worries – which are often the ones that keep you tossing and turning at night.
Bedtime Wind Down Routine & Tips for Adults
Same Bedtime and Wake Time
While it’s super tempting to stay up late on the weekends, sticking to a regular sleep and wake-time, helps maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle. When you adhere to a regular bedtime, your body and brain naturally begins to prepare for sleep several hours before bedtime which allows you to fall asleep quicker.
Deciding on a regular bedtime and sticking to it is the first step in beginning a successful bedtime routine.
Set The Scene
Making your bedroom a sleeping sanctuary is a must! A few of my favorite ways to create a calming atmosphere are:
- Aromatherapy: I love diffusing essential oils before bedtime. There are so many different essential oils that can be helpful in promoting calm and sleep. A few of my favorite oils to diffuse are Lavender, bergamot or sandalwood. My absolute favorite blend is Peaceful Sleep Oil Blend from NOW Foods*. It combines Orange Oil, Tangerine Oil, Lavender Oil, Chamomile Oil, Ylang Ylang Oil, Sandalwood Oil for a super calming and soothing aromatherapy blend. NOW also has super convenient roll-ons that can be used on pulse points for a quick boost of aromatherapy love. The lavender and Take a Zen Ten Essential Oil Blend Roll On’s are both great sleepy-time options.
- Dark Room: Investing in black out curtains creates an optimal environment and can often decrease environmental noise too. If you have digital alarm clocks, turn the brightness down or move the clock away from your bedside table to prevent access light.
- White Noise: White noise can dull out access noises for a better sleep environment. There are many machines and even phone apps that can create ambient noise.
I love coffee, but drinking caffeine ( a stimulant) too close to bedtime can cause you to feel overly wired which makes it pretty tough to fall asleep. Aim to abstain (or at least limit) your caffeine intake from 6 hours before your bedtime in order to give your body time to process and eliminate the caffeine from your body.
Say No To Electronics (Blue Light)
While it’s so tempting to scroll through facebook and instagram before bed, blue light that is emitted from technology can really mess with your sleep cycle. Such activities can be stimulating and the blue light emitted from devices has been linked to decreasing the release of melatonin, which is a key hormone in helping make you feel sleepy. Avoid using electronics at least 30 minutes before bed (even longer is better).
For those that have a hard time falling asleep, supplements are a great option. There are many natural sleep supplements that can be used to help you sleep so that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. Melatonin** is one that I find that helps me considerably when my mind is racing and I’m having a hard time settling into to sleep.
Melatonin is naturally produced by the body and is one of the chemicals most directly involved in sleep regulation. Melatonin is also a key regulator of the immune and gastrointestinal systems, and taking a melatonin supplement can further support these systems. Within 30 minutes of taking melatonin, I can feel the effects and often fall into an incredibly restful sleep to wake feeling energized and ready to tackle my day.
For lots of other great supplements, you can learn more here.
Create a Bedtime Ritual
Creating bedtime rituals, or activities that you consistently do before sleep time, is a great way to signal to your body that bedtime is soon. A few great options are below:
Tea & Journal
Grabbing a cup of hot tea and journaling is a great way to begin your bedtime ritual. I love a soothing and smooth cup of NOW chamomile tea to help begin the bedtime unwind routine and the warmth can be so soothing and comforting. I’ll often grab my journal and begin writing.
There are so many options when it comes to journal writing and finding what works best for you is key:
- If you lie in bed with to do items popping in your mind, it may serve you well to keep a list by the bed where you can jot down to-so list items for the next day so you can release those worries. Writing out the stressors gets them out of your mind.
- Gratitude: gratitude journaling is a great way to close your day and infuse more happiness into your life.
Gentle Yoga & Mindful Movement
A racing mind can make sleep really difficult. Taking several minutes to practice some gentle yoga or mindful movement and stretches before bedtime, is a great way to settle the mind and tune into the body. Pairing those movements with mindful breath is a double dose for creating a calm mind and body.
A couple wonderful yoga poses to try before bed are:
- Legs up the wall
- Reclined Bound Angle
- Seated Forward Fold
- Childs Pose
For details on these poses, head over here.
These poses are wonderful for signaling your parasympathetic nervous system response, which we need for deep rest.
Pranayama & Meditation
Pranayama, or breathing exercises, will relax the body, slow the heart rate and calm the mind. Pranayama combined with meditation ignites the parasympathetic nervous and encourages slower breathing to greatly improve your likelihood of a high quality night of sleep.
A few great breath based exercises to try are:
- Belly Breathing: Inhale slowly through your nose feeling the air fill your lungs and then spill down to your belly, notice your belly expands with the breath. Exhale through your mouth, going in reverse, notice your belly is contracting and your lungs are emptying. Continue breathing deeply until you feel calm. I like to imagine my breath moving like waves in an ocean as my lungs and belly expands and contracts.
- Square breathing: inhale to a count of 4, retain breath for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4
- Nadi Shodhana: Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, or alternate-nostril breathing, quiets the mind and brings balance. To practice, gently close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through your left nostril, then close it with your ring-little fingers. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril. Keep the right nostril open, inhale, then close it, and open and exhale slowly through the left. Repeat until calm.
If you ever get distracted during these breathing techniques, just come back to the breath to get grounded and centered.
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Do you struggle falling asleep?
*Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be irritating to skin. Use with care. Dilute essential oils as directed. For adult use only. Keep out of reach of children. Not for internal use. Avoid contact with eyes.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.