Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Or do you feel tired during the day, even when you have been in bed for the recommended 8 to 9 hours? If so, it is possible that your bedtime routine needs some help.
Yes, just like children, adults can benefit from having a bedtime ritual. Our bodies function best with gentle transitions. Switching straight from an active day to trying to fall asleep in bed can be frustrating and unproductive. And as we age, our hormones and brain chemistry change in such a way that it becomes harder and harder to sleep. This is why elderly people are usually up at the crack of dawn, and why it behooves us to get as much restful sleep as possible. Try these pre-bed rituals (and tips) to help you get the most from your precious rest time.
1. Set the Space
For the deepest sleep possible, you need a bedroom that is cool, completely dark, and quiet. Your bed should feel comfortable and supportive to you, neither too soft nor too hard. If you toss and turn all night, you may need a new mattress.
Use blackout curtains to be sure your room is dark, and turn off all electronics. If you have a digital alarm clock, cover it with a dark cloth. Set the temperature cool enough that you need a blanket or comforter.
2. Turn Off the Screens
Watching TV, playing video games, surfing the internet, and even staring at your smartphone too close to bedtime can prevent you from getting a good nights rest. Looking at lit screens stimulates the brain and makes sleeping more challenging. Turn off all your devices at least one hour, and preferably two hours before bedtime.
3. Have a Mostly Empty Belly
In order for us to get proper rest, the liver needs to be able to rejuvenate. If we have eaten too close to bedtime then the digestive processes will still be running, and the liver will be working instead of resting. Also food that sits in the belly overnight can ferment and cause digestive disturbances. But we do not want to be too hungry, as then we might wake up in the middle of the night. For most people the best practice is to eat larger meals earlier in the day, and have a light meal like soup three to four hours before bed.
4. Take a Bath
A warm bath with Epsom salt and essential oils is a great way to pamper your body, relax your nervous system, and prepare you to fall asleep easily. Use water that is very warm but not too hot.
Meditating before bed helps clear the mind of the days events, so it is less likely to be spinning when you try to fall asleep. If possible, set aside a place in your bedroom where you can sit in front of a candle. Turn off all other lights and let the candle help calm and focus your mind.
Focus on breathing deeply, relaxing your body, and letting the thoughts in your mind just drift by. Dont try to forcibly stop thinking, just let the thoughts go and focus on your breath. Meditating for 10 to 30 minutes every night can do wonders for your sleep and overall wellbeing.
6. Massage Your Feet
Touching your body in a nurturing way soothes the nervous system and helps relieve tension. Massaging the feet also supports the health of the organ systems. And as the feet readily absorb anything rubbed into them, using some therapeutic grade lavender essential oil can increase the relaxing effects. If you have a partner, massage each others feet to increase bonding and help you both relax.
7. Count Your Blessings
When you do lie down to sleep, focus on the people, moments, and experiences of life for which you are more grateful. Instead of taking the old advice to count sheep to fall asleep, count your blessings. Using this time to reflect on appreciation and gratitude will help you relax into sleep. It will also help you have peaceful dreams and wake up in the morning with a sense of gratitude and excitement about life.
These are just a few of the ways you can invite relaxing sleep experiences into your life. Some people like to follow the same routine every night, soothed by the comfort of repetition. Others prefer to listen to their bodys needs and mix it up a bit, engaging in different rituals on different nights. But the end result is the same. Treat your bedtime as a precious, sacred time of self-care. This will ensure that you rest deeply and have the energy to get through your days with ease and grace.