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ZZZ: Guide to Creating an Effective Sleep Ritual

ZZZ: Guide to Creating an Effective Sleep Ritual

We all know the effects of a good night’s rest. We are calmer, more focused, less stressed and with more energy to handle what each day brings. Research on the subject of sleep has shown that it even clears waste from the brain and supports learning and memory. So while the body is sleeping, the brain is very much at work.  

It’s no surprise that while we understand how important sleep is, many of us don’t get enough of it. Whether it’s the stresses of the day looming over our heads at night or the to-do list for the next day, it can be difficult to settle down and sleep. This is where a sleep ritual can be helpful in getting those hours in every night. Read on for your guide to creating an effective sleep ritual that’ll take you from “can’t sleep” to your best night’s sleep in a long time.  

Create the Environment

You want to create an environment that is primed for restful sleep. If you like the room dark, buy some black-out curtains to eliminate any light coming through at night. Dim the lights in your bedroom, as bright lights can energize instead of settle and calm. Clean up any clutter around the room so the space is clean. A white noise machine is also really helpful. There is a reason it’s a popular item on baby registries!  

If you like essential oils, get a diffuser and put a few drops of lavender or chamomile oil and let it fill up the room about an hour before you go to sleep. Scents are powerful and have a real impact on not only getting to sleep faster but also for longer periods of time.  

Check your bedding and pajamas to make them as inviting as possible. For bedding, I like an all seasons comforter that can go from summer to winter and not feel too cold or hot. Get some soft pajamas that you’ll want to get into at the end of the day that are comfortable and you can easily move around in at night.  

Prepare for the Next Day

One of the main challenges for the mind in getting to sleep faster is the worries of the next day. Do as much as you can to prepare for the big things the next day so you’re not thinking about them while laying in bed.  

If you need to pack lunches for the kids for school, do that the night before. This is something I personally do and I love not having to worry about it the next morning as I’m rushing to get the kids dressed and out the door. Make a list of things that need to be accomplished the next day- whether that be phone calls, appointments, grocery shopping or things to discuss with your partner or boss. This way you won’t forget to do them.  

Picking out clothes for yourself and kids (if they are at that age) is a great idea and one less thing you need to do the next morning. Plan out what everyone is wearing so the only thing that needs to be done the next morning is getting dressed. This also applies to anything that needs to be packed for after school or going to the office. Having things ready eliminates the worry that can keep you up at night. If you often find yourself forgetting it at home, try putting it in the car the night before so it’s there.  

Set Time Aside to Settle Down

There are a ton of resources out there to help you settle the body and mind for rest, especially if you can’t sleep easily. From sleep music, meditation apps, bedtime yoga or nighttime stories, there is something for everyone.  

I like doing guided meditation while in bed with the lights off. It helps me focus, eliminates distracting thoughts and more often than not I’m asleep before the session ends. Another great one is writing in a journal. You can write your thoughts or ideas, or another one I really like is a gratitude journal. Writing down just three things that you are grateful for the day can help put you in a more positive mood before bed.  

Try to put the phone or computer down before bedtime. Not only can it be a time sink, but the blue light emitted from the devices can actually trick your mind into thinking it’s daytime and keep you up. Instead, listen to a podcast that is targeted for sleep with an automatic shut-off. Set morning alarms beforehand so it’s not tempting to pick up the phone while laying in bed.  

Pay close attention to the foods you eat before you start your bedtime routine. Heavy foods and drinks can lead to stomach issues that can keep you up at night or make it tough to sleep. Try light snacks that have a high melatonin content like grapes, cherries and yogurt that can calm a tummy before heading to bed. Caffeine-free teas like chamomile and lavender are also good.  

Take Care of your Skin and Teeth 

Don’t forget or skip the step of brushing your teeth and washing your face. It can be tempting after a long day to just go to bed, but making this a part of your nighttime routine can help it become more second nature and easy.  

Taking the extra time to care for your skin that’s been exposed to the daily environmental elements is really beneficial. Get a good skincare routine with products that will rehydrate and repair your skin while you sleep. A good cleanser, serum, eye cream and night cream are a great start. And don’t forget to brush your teeth!

Sample Sleep Ritual 

Ready to create your own sleep routine for a good night’s rest? Here is a sample sleep ritual to help you get started: 

2 hours before bedtime:
– Clean Room
– Prepare for the next day with small responsibilities like lunches and clothes
– Make a list of everything that needs to get done the next day 

1 hour before bedtime:
– Put on pajamas
– Turn on noise machine, dim lights, add oils to diffuser
– Eat a light snack or drink some tea 

30 minutes before bedtime:
– Do skincare routine and brush teeth
– Start a meditation session or put on some sleep  music
– Turn off all light, draw curtains 

We hope these tips and sample rituals inspire you to create your own sleep routine. Your body and mind will thank you. Goodnight!  

About The Author

Sandra Lee

Sandra Lee is a blogger, amateur photographer and freelance writer for parenting publications such as Red Tricycle and Mommy Nearest. Hailing from Texas and living in the Bay Area, she writes about life with two kids, beauty finds, food and all things motherhood on her blog, Coffee in the Middle. As a bilingual Mexican and Italian woman, she’s committed to teaching her kids about diversity, the Spanish language and the love of different cultures. When she’s not chasing the little ones around, she’s either baking up something delicious, taking a yoga class or writing.

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