When you were little, you probably had bedtime rituals that helped you go to sleep. Maybe your parents told you to put on your pajamas and brush your teeth. Maybe they read you one last story and checked under your bed for monsters.
As an adult, you’re more likely to be thinking about your job and monthly bills rather than monsters, but you can invent your own late-night practices to ensure you get the rest you need.
Consider these ideas for 13 bedtime rituals that encourage mindfulness and peaceful dreams.
Bedtime Rituals for Your Body:
1. Slow down. Are you still thinking about work and rushing through housework up until you go to bed? Give yourself some downtime in the evening and move at a more leisurely pace.
2. Dim the lights. When your eyes are looking at bright screens on your phone and TV, your brain is getting stimulated too. Shut down electronic devices at least two hours before bed. Darken your bedroom as well.
3. Read a book. Now that you’re offline, try catching up on your reading. Visit your local library to browse the fiction or history shelves. If you prefer an electronic reader, turn the brightness down and use an app or filter to block blue light.
4. Breathe deeply. Your breathing can help you manage your emotions. Do exercises that help you focus on inhaling from your abdomen instead of your chest. Diaphragmatic breathing triggers a relaxation response throughout your body. Lengthening your exhalations also reduces stress.
5. Eat something light. If you’re distracted by hunger pangs, have a small snack. Pick something that combines a little protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fat.
6. Squeeze your muscles. Progressive muscle relaxation is a proven method for settling down to sleep. Work your way down from head to foot as you tense and relax your muscles in one area at a time. Or try tensing and relaxing from your feet to your head.
Bedtime Rituals for Your Mind:
7. Write it down. Perform a nightly mental dump. Make a list of your nagging thoughts, urgent errands, and personal goals. Once you put it on paper, you can forget about it for the night, knowing that you have a reminder waiting for you when you wake up.
8. Count backwards. Counting sheep sometimes works because it’s boring. However, if you find yourself lingering over cute images of sheep, switch to plain numbers and work back from 100.
9. Play a game. If you want something restful but a little more fun, use a simple mental word game. Choose a five-letter word and name an item that starts with each letter.
10. Listen to music. Music can have a powerful effect on your mood. Play a classic lullaby or soft jazz tunes.
11. Hide your clock. Staring at your clock can make you anxious about how many hours you have left before you need to leave for work. Turn the display towards the wall or put your clock on a shelf above your head.
12. Take a break. If you’re tossing and turning for more than half an hour, you might benefit from getting up and going to another room until you’re drowsier. Keep the TV off and do something tedious like organizing your sock drawer.
13. Meditate and visualize. On the other hand, it works to your advantage if you can stay in bed without feeling anxious about being awake. Use the time to meditate, pray, or enjoy pleasant imagery. You may fall asleep or at least still your mind. Even though you are not asleep, you are resting.
Having a consistent bedtime routine can help you overcome intrusive thoughts and relax your body and mind. Adopt habits that make it easier for you to regain mindfulness after a busy day and enjoy a full night of high-quality sleep.