A good morning doesn’t start as soon as you open your eyes. It actually begins once you lay down to go to sleep—a night’s worth of deep, rejuvenating rest can make or break the way you feel when the sun comes up.
In fact, the value of sleep is well known, and you have likely experienced the difference between a restful and a restless night yourself. One way to avoid the latter is to come up with an evening ritual that puts you in the right frame of mind for falling asleep and staying that way until morning. If you aren’t getting the recommended 7-8 hours of rest, you may be setting yourself up for some harmful long-term consequences. Lack of sleep can lead to anxiety and stress, which we all want to seriously avoid.
Are you ready to catch some high-quality Z’s? If so, rely on one or more of the following five tips to easing yourself into satisfying sleep.
Evening Rituals for Healthy Sleep
1. Dim the Lights.
Your body is built to react to light: it knows to wake up when there’s light, and it knows to sleep when it’s dark. Unlike our cave-dwelling ancestors, however, we have to consider electric lighting and its effects on our sleep patterns because it truly can be a menace to them.
When you’re sitting under bright lights, your body won’t produce melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that is released when it starts getting dark. Melatonin makes you feel less alert and more ready for rest, which is why it’s a lot harder to sleep when it’s not coursing through your veins.
So, in order to lull yourself into resting, start to dim the lights as you start to get ready for bed. You could also avoid cell phone, computer, and television screens, too, so your body knows it’s dark and time to make melatonin.
2. Turn the Temp Down, Too.
When you imagine your best night of sleep ever, you probably don’t remember the room being cold. However, your body gets its best rest when you sleep in a room that’s chilled to a brisk 60-68 degrees. When it’s too hot, you typically become restless and wake up to adjust your blankets, sleepwear, etc.
You can always layer on a light blanket or comforter if you feel as though your room is too cold for comfortable sleep. And, if you’re nervous that you might be too bundled when the alarm clock goes off in the morning, then invest in cozy PJs and slippers that you can wear until you’re ready to transition into your daytime threads.
3. (Almost) Always Close the Kitchen.
This is especially important if you’re prone to heartburn, sugar highs, or any other discomfort caused by the food that you eat: finish eating at least three hours before you hit the sheets so that your digestion doesn’t interrupt your sleep cycle.
The only time that it’s okay to break this rule is when you feel hungry to the point where it’s distracting you from catching your Z’s. In this case, there are some foods that you can safely eat before sleep. Seek out something without any stimulants, added sugar, fiber, etc., so that your stomach is still more or less settled.
4. Write It Out.
Mental note-makers, listen up: sleep might be difficult for you because, well, you’re making lists in your head instead of resting. The to-dos for tomorrow that typically keep you awake can be quieted pretty easily. All you have to do is place a notepad and pen on your nightstand so that you can jot something down that you’re worried you’ll forget by dawn.
You can also make a habit to write in a journal or in your day planner before you lay down in order to get these plans out of your brain—and out of the way of good sleep.
5. Unwind the Clock.
People who have trouble sleeping know how stressful a bedside alarm clock can be. It shows, with every passing minute, just how much sleep you’re missing out on. That’s why you should remove any visible clock from your space and turn off your phone screen so that you’re blind to the time. If you must have an alarm, face it away from you so that you can focus on getting high-quality sleep, not how much of it you’re getting.
These aren’t the only ways to ensure you’ll have a good night’s sleep, but each one is a great place to start. Incorporate one or more to see what works, and find other little activities that put you on the path to rest and relaxation—and a great morning, every morning. Good night!
What are your favorite pre-bed evening rituals?
Also by Cori: 7 Morning Rituals to Manifest Positivity
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