Nightly Rituals for Optimal Sleep and Wellbeing
There's nothing like getting a good night’s sleep. It lets our bodies recover and restore, we feel well-rested, and we're prepared to take on the new day ahead. Study after study affirms sleep is essential for optimal physical and mental health.
As we get older, and society continually becomes more fast-paced, in many circles it's become almost a badge of honor to be tired, so everyone around us knows that we accomplished enough during the day. If we’re feeling great, refreshed, full of vitality, and bright-eyed, there's even a sense of guilt sometimes that we're not achieving enough. But the tide on this cultural phenomenon of "perpetual busyness" seems to be turning, as we learn how critical regular, restful sleep is to our health. No doubt part of the shift towards slowing down has been fueled by the pandemic, causing many to rethink what they want to prioritize.
Getting a good night’s sleep can be much easier said than done. Whether it’s demand from work, family & kids, pets, daily stressors, sleep disorders, issues out in the world, or some combination of these, restful sleep can often ellude us despite our need for it. However, establishing a solid nightly routine can be incredibly helpful in preparing our bodies for better sleep. Below are a few easy ways to begin the journey of better sleep, by incorporating simple nightly rituals into your regular routine.
NIGHTLY RITUALS FOR A BETTER NIGHT'S SLEEP:
Clear the Mind of To-Dos
We've all experienced this: we’re trying to sleep, but our minds won't stop going over the day’s to-do list. Just as we're trying to relax and drift into dreamland, our brain starts running through all the items on our list; the ones that got checked off, and especially the items that didn’t. Instead of getting stuck trying to build a new list in our heads (that might be forgotten by morning anyway), try taking a few quick minutes to jot your thoughts down before bed. If you already have a running to-do list on your phone or other electronic device, check off what’s been done, and write down what still needs to be done before you’re in bed. Aim for eliminating screen time at least 30 minutes before you’re ready to sleep. And just in case you forget something, keep a notepad close to your bed (make it chic with a mini Smysthon notebook). The important thing is that you get the list out of your head, and onto paper or recorded elsewhere. The amount of commitments we have won’t magically disappear, but we can get better at managing how much they interfere with our sleep.
Relax the Body
We all carry tension in our bodies that inhibits restful sleep. Even if we rest the mind, our bodies are still left with the aftermath of the day’s stresses. One of the best ways to mimic the nighttime temperature drop our bodies already experience before sleep is to take a warm bath and let our body temperature cool down as the water temperature drops. Taking a bath before bed each night is a wonderful nightly ritual to prepare your body for a good night's sleep. Fill your tub with warm water and a few pumps of hydrating, non-toxic bubble bath, and soak your skin and sore muscles while easing your mind. For even more relaxation, light some candles and get lost in a good book while in the tub. To learn more about all of the healing powers of a bubble bath, click here.
If taking a bath isn’t your thing, try some simple breathing exercises before bed, do some basic stretches for 10 minutes, and/or ask your partner to give you a quick massage. Another beneficial habit to adopt as a nightly ritual is to apply some essential oils or naturally scented moisturizing cream to your hands before bedtime each night. Keep some of our Rich Hydrating Cream on your nightstand and rub into hands and elbows as a little treat before your head hits the pillow. The natural citrus scent is soothing before bedtime, and our signature ingredient, watermelon seed oil, is hydrating, detoxifying, and absorbs quickly so you're left with smooth, youthful skin.
Choose nightly rituals that you’ll look forward to at the end of the day, and that over time will cue your body that it's time for sleeping. When you start to show your body appreciation for all the hard work it has put in, your body will begin to return the favor.
Decide on a Regular Bedtime
Our bodies love routine and predictability, especially when it comes to sleep. If we go to bed and wake up at relatively the same time every day, our bodies learn this rhythm and respond appropriately. We’ll be tired when we need to be, and ready to wake up in the morning on a regular schedule. However, this doesn’t happen overnight (no pun intended), so keep at it even when progress is slow. If you’re typically a late night person, going to bed at 9pm may seem near impossible - but if you want to train yourself to go to bed and wake up earlier, start to adjust your internal clock gradually. Try going to bed at 11pm instead of 12am the first night, and then slowly push the time back to whatever your new bedtime goal is. Of course sometimes life gets in the way, and some days going to bed at the designated bedtime just won't happen. That’s okay! Try to get up at relatively the same time anyway, grab a 15-minute power nap in the afternoon, and then get back on track that night. It’s not about perfection – the goal is to instill healthy practices as part of our regular routine, in order to be as vibrant, healthy, and present as possible.
Showing gratitude is one of the most underrated yet powerful practices we can do every day. Though it's rewarding to practice throughout the day, bedtime is also the perfect time to recount what we’re thankful for, reflect on the day, and end in a spirit of thankfulness. Whether it’s saying 3 things we’re thankful for to our partner or writing our thoughts down in the quiet of our own journal, being mindful about what we're thankful for is a wonderful nightly ritual to make a habit of.
No matter the heavy news of the day, or what we're personally dealing with, taking a few moments at the end of each day to be truly grateful for the good things helps to broaden our perspective, ease our mind, and boost our mood. Nothing is ever too small or insignificant to be grateful for!
Try incorporating the nightly rituals that work best for you: cleansing your mind by writing out your to-do list, taking a warm bubble bath, rubbing Rich Hydrating Cream into your hands and taking in the relaxing scent, sticking to the same bedtime every night, practicing gratitude, and/or some combination of these or all of the above. Our needs change depending on the season of life we’re in. Listen to your body and take care of yourself, and your body will reward you.
Do you have another nightly ritual that helps you sleep? We'd love to hear in the comments below what you’ve found that works too.