How you end your day determines how you start your next. How we spend our last few waking hours impacts our quality of sleep, energy and happiness. Following a night-time ritual eases your body into slumber while putting you in better stead for tomorrow. Use this checklist to get some sound shut-eye and wake up feeling fresh and ready for success.
- Exit work mode: You can only truly enjoy your night and sleep well if you mentally shut down after your work day. To help transition into home-mode, establish a closing ritual at work. Organize your desk, back up your files and prepare for tomorrow with a list of objectives and a to-do list.
- Create a to-do list: A clear to-do list sets your priorities for tomorrow and gives the day purpose. Jotting your to-dos on paper prevents night-time anxiety by organizing your thoughts in one place until you can revisit them in the morning.
- Prep for the next day: Make all your morning decisions the night before. Lay out tomorrow’s clothes, pack your gym bag, organize your work documents and prepare your breakfast or lunch as much as you can. Preparing for your day in advance creates less rush in the morning and allows for some precious extra moments of sleep.
- Take a bath: Taking a hot shower or soaking in a warm bath before bed loosens your muscles to help you wind down after a long day. The trick is in timing it correctly. The circadian rhythm is regulated by our body temperature which starts to drop in the evening to induce sleep at night. It’s best to warm your body with a shower about an hour and a half before getting under the covers to experience its therapeutic benefits and give your body enough time to cool off for sleep.
- Sip some tea: A soothing cup of herbal tea an hour before bed can lull your body into slumber. Herbs are packed with all kinds of goodness and, for the most part, are caffeine-free. Brew chamomile for a sedative effect, lavender to reduce stress and anxiety or peppermint to assuage digestion.
- Power Down: Make the last hour before bed digital-free to preserve the sanctity of your snooze. The blue screens of our devices are stimulants that work against our natural sleep cycle by disrupting melatonin production. Opt for yellow screen light once the sun sets, this will prepare your mind to wind down. Swap your streaming for a novel, a magazine or a bit of journaling and then turn off or switch your devices to night mode to enjoy uninterrupted sleep.
- Journaling: Expressing your thoughts on paper for a few minutes each night puts you in a better frame of mind to fall asleep peacefully. Psychologists advocate listing three good things that happened during the day or that you are grateful for to shift your attention from concerns and worries to positive feelings. Ten to fifteen minutes of journaling a day has shown to increase sleep quality and improve overall wellbeing.
- Stretch: A few light stretches at night relax the muscles to release any tension they may have encountered during the day. A little extending and unfolding of your limbs relieves built-up stress, getting your body loose and relaxed for a more restful repose.
- Meditation: End the day on a high with some meditation. A few moments of practice provide some perspective to your racing thoughts and allow you to detach yourself from them. Focusing inwards and steadying your breath restores harmony and creates mindfulness, bringing a dose of peace to your evening.
Taking your body into account, customize your rituals to suit your needs. Once your rituals become routine, the very performance of them start inducing sleep. Let your night-time routine become the antidote to the chaos of the day and the gateway to restorative sleep. What do you do to sleep better? Let us know in the comments section below.