Lavender flowers against white backdrop

Nighty Rituals for Better Sleep

For many years, the hour before I went to bed was the time that I would start to fixate on how many things I didn’t get done during the day and how busy tomorrow would be. I’d start to worry about random things, like what if I sleep through my alarm and miss my 7 AM video conference call? Or I’d question whether my meeting was actually at 7 AM or even earlier (even though I had already checked my calendar five times to confirm). I would work myself into a frenzy and then find myself lying wide awake while the world around me was sound asleep.

This used to be a common occurrence for me; it was as though the rising moon served as a reminder for my brain to go into overdrive. Oh sure, there were nights when I was so exhausted from a busy day that as soon as my head hit the pillow I was instantly asleep, but then I would wake up in the middle of the night and random concerns would start all over again. And on and on my mind would go. I lived this way for a long time until I decided to incorporate various nightly rituals that helped create a peaceful and relaxing environment—mentally and physically.

Here are three of my favorite nightly rituals to promote a good night’s sleep: 

Take a Hot Shower
A hot shower before going to bed helps relax muscles, lowers body tension, and reduces anxiety. Try to take a hot shower about 90 minutes before going to bed to help your body relax and cool down.  During your shower, imagine your daily stressors slowly sliding down your body until they make their way down the drain. This imagery serves as a brief nightly mediation that will further ease stress and tension.

Spray Lavender Mist
Lavender essential oil contains sedative, calming, and anti-depressive properties that help improve mood and reduce stress. Each night before going to bed, spray a little lavender mist over your pillows and blankets. As you spray, take 3-5 deep breaths while slowly inhaling the relaxing sent. To enhance the smell and benefits, purchase an essential oil diffuser and diffuse lavender oil as you sleep. Begin diffusing oil about 30 minutes before going to bed and set it to run throughout the night (try to find a diffuser with four- and eight-hour settings).

Practice Gratitude
Just before turning off the lights and resting your head on your pillow, write down three things you are grateful for that happened earlier that day. It can be anything from “I’m grateful for my delicious bowl of cereal” to “I’m grateful for the smell of gardenias” to “I’m grateful for my healthy mind and body.” It can be anything, as long as it helps create a positive mindset. On some days, these three things may be the same, but that doesn’t matter. The point is that you go to sleep with a positive and grateful mind. Gratitude journaling only takes a few minutes a day, but it can give you a lasting mood boost that can take you from feeling “okay” to feeling “great” on a more regular basis.

I hope these rituals help you as much as they help me. 

xx - Jen

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