Stress is pretty much a part of all our lives! Much as we wish it were otherwise, our responsibilities at home and at work can place a load of stress on our shoulders that just gets heavier with every passing day.
Worse, that stress can start to affect the rest of our lives. Stress suppresses our immune systems and makes us more vulnerable to disease. Stress impairs our mood and makes us more prone to anxiety and depression. Stress can even affect our sleep quality, making it harder to not only fall asleep at night, but also get a proper night of rest. That’s when things really start to go wrong, because your body will begin to shut down without enough sleep!
But did you know that a relaxing bedtime routine can help to remove stress from your night? Try this simple five-step sleeping routine to relax, wash away the stress, and get ready for a good night of rest:
Following a sleep schedule is vital to train your body (and mind) to shut down every night.
Our bodies follow a sleep-wake cycle, and you can actually train yourself to get sleepy at the same time every day. However, that requires consistency, which means going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time for weeks at a time. It usually takes 12 to 16 weeks to form a proper sleep habit.
It’s vital that you follow a sleep routine. That means every night, at the same time, stop what you’re doing and start getting ready for bed. No matter how much fun you’re having or how interesting that book or TV show is, it’s time to get to sleep, which means starting your bedtime routine.
Every good bedtime routine starts with a little something beautiful smelling.
Have a soothing mug of chamomile, lavender, peppermint, or “Sleepy Time” tea. The hot beverage will soothe you, hydrate you, and get you in a sleepy mood. The scents are also known to relax you and reduce stress and anxiety.
Take it a step farther with some essential oils. Dab a few drops of lavender essential oils on your neck and behind your ears, and take ten long, deep breaths through your nose. The fragrance is known to promote wellness and calm your mind, helping to wash away the worries about your busy day.
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Now it’s time to wash away all the dirt, sweat, and grime of the day—and, hopefully, wash away the stress with it.
You can take a long, relaxing bath if you want, or just settle for a warm shower. You don’t want it to be too hot, as that will wake you up more. Make sure the water is pleasantly warm, as that will help your body to relax and lowers your internal body temperature, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
Try flossing, brushing your teeth, and doing all of your other pre-bedtime hygiene before getting into the shower. You want to go straight from the shower to your bed to relax and get into the mood for sleep.
Now’s the time to turn the light down low, to shut off all electronic devices and anything that generates noise. Light, noise, and external stimuli will interfere with your relaxation and wake you up, making it harder for you to fall asleep. Shut them off, close your door, and make sure the lighting and music in your room is relaxing and calming.
If you want, try keeping a journal that you write in every night. Or, try reading something short and relaxing, such as a book of motivational quotes or thoughts. You want to keep your mind and body in that relaxed, calm state that will help you to slip into sleep.
The last thing you do before shutting off the lights is meditate.
Sit or lie in a comfortable position on your bed (or in a comfy chair), close your eyes, and practice meditation or mindfulness techniques. Deep breathing will help you to remain focused on your meditation, but it will also relax your body and help you get sleepy. Do it for as long or as short as you want—anywhere from 5 to 35 minutes—or until you start feeling tired.
If you’re already lying down, simply turn off the lights and let yourself drift off. If you’re sitting up, lie down and continue meditating and relaxing your mind until everything fades around you and you slide into sleep.
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