All the people in my household struggle with sleep in some form or another. And each is uniquely triggered by things in their environment or body process that can set them up for a poor night of sleep. So, keeping a consistent routine and being aware of our surroundings has been an imperative part of our family life. Especially toward the evening hours.
Below, you’ll find an extensive list of bedtime routines that are supported by research and that members of our family have benefitted from personally. Not everything will be right for you. An activity that sends one person off to dreamland might cause another to become more alert or wound up. So, start out with three bedtime routines to incorporate into your evening. Try them on and see how they feel. Do they help you relax mentally and physically? If so, incorporate them into your life as a steady and positive habit.
Create a Routine
First and foremost, creating a routine signals to your brain that it’s time to wind down. Any culmination of the ideas below can become part of your ritual. My routine is as follows, with some minor variations.
About two hours before bedtime, I put 20 drops of soothing essential oil* into my diffuser and let that permeate the house. Usually a blend of lavender, cedarwood, patchouli, or anything that makes me feel grounded and peaceful.
Next, I tidy up the house by putting stray shoes, dishes, or laundry away.
Overhead lights get turned off and are replaced by a few sporadic lamps at key points in the house. The last person to bed turns them off.
Finally, I take a bath. If it’s been a challenging day, I won’t hesitate to put a few drops of essential oils in my water such as ylang-ylang or lavender. I may also use a handful of Epsom salts. I don’t fill up the tub too much but will soak in the super hot, semi-shallow water for about 10 minutes.
Afterward, I may write until my eyes become heavy. The blue light of my laptop does not seem to bother me so long as it is dimmed considerably. However, I can only engage in a task that does not rev up certain parts of my brain. Writing and reading use slower, creative areas. Whereas spreadsheets or data rev it up. I save the latter for daytime to-dos.
I also make it a point to avoid news and social media within the two hours before bedtime.
Shut Down Electronics
I know I just said that I often write on my laptop before bed, but this will be counterproductive to many. My husband, for instance, has to wind down for about an hour after writing prior to hitting the hay. Again, what works for some won’t work for all.