Do you stare at the ceiling waiting to fall asleep? Or toss and turn because you can’t get your mind to shut off?
Then you’re probably not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep. If that’s the case, you’re also at risk for illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The ability to calm your mind and body before bed can help. The trick is finding what works for you. We’ve put together a list. Pick and choose or try them all until you find a combination that helps your eyes close as soon as you hit the pillow.
Commit to Regular Physical Activity
You can’t ignore the relaxing benefits of exercise. Okay, it might not be relaxing while you’re doing it unless you’ve found a calming yoga routine, but physical activity releases endorphins. Endorphins make you feel good, which is what you need to relax. Exercise also has the benefit of wearing out your body so that fatigue can help you fall asleep.
Meditation has been used for centuries to focus the mind and body. Scientists have discovered a long list of mental and physical benefits to regular practice. Regular practitioners can trigger their body’s relaxation response, which lowers the blood pressure and heart rate.
Meditation can reduce pain perception by reducing the anticipation of pain. It can also help reduce anxiety by training the brain to stay in the present moment rather than dwelling on a stressful past or future.
It takes time to develop these benefits, but meditation is easy to add to a nighttime routine. You can even do it in bed.
Use Aromatherapy at the End of the Day
Aromatherapy harnesses the power of the olfactory senses by triggering behavioral responses. For many people, all it takes is the scent of the right essential oil to reduce anxiety or calm the mind. Some like lavender and jasmine have even been shown to aid sleep.
Essential oils can be inhaled using a diffuser, rubbed on the skin in lotions, or released into the air through a candle. Consult a trained aromatherapist to make sure you’re correctly using them and that you’ve found the right oils for you.
Write in a Journal
Sometimes all you need is a good vent to fall asleep. Journals are a great place to release feelings or simply work through the events of the day. A gratitude journal is another way to relax before bed. Gratitude boosts happiness, which is exactly what you need before closing your eyes. For other people, a journal is a place to leave their worries. They can even be used to list tasks or grocery items so you can sleep easy knowing you won’t forget about them.
Stretch with Yoga
Yoga adds a physical element to meditation's mental work. It’s been shown to reduce stress-induced proteins in the blood and can remove tension from the muscles. In a study conducted among breast cancer survivors, yoga reduced stress, improved moved, and boosted energy.
The only benefit on that list you might want to avoid at bedtime is extra energy. But with the right poses, yoga can get rid of shoulder, neck, and back tension so you can rest. And, like meditation, you can do it while lying in bed.
Relax and Rest
Rest both physical and mental is good for body and soul. Make time for relaxation. Whether it’s right after work or part of your bedtime routine, activities that remove stress from your body will help you rest easier. With adequate sleep, you’ll be set to live a purposeful life fueled for whatever adventure you’ve planned.