The secret to waking up happier and well-rested? A smarter nighttime routine. What we choose to do with our evening hours directly impacts our quality of sleep, significantly influencing our mood and energy levels the next day. Truth is, most of us spend our nights binge-watching TV shows, texting and late night snacking — none of which are great for catching quality zzz’s. The good news: Revamping your bedtime routine can be easy — and fun. Here, we teamed up with our pals at 21 drops to create a new nighttime ritual that will help you get that precious shut-eye you crave. Stick to this sleep-priming plan each night and we promise you’ll be counting fewer sheep and feeling fresh come morning.
Prep Your Space
1. Plan ahead.
If you tend to be a night owl, try working with your natural body clock. Use those evening hours, when you feel most energized, to get yourself organized for the next day. Plan your outfit, lay out gym clothes, file papers, pack your office bag, prepare lunches or prep an easy on-the-go breakfast to stash in the fridge overnight. Just a little prep work (say, 15 to 30 minutes) will help ease the morning rush.
2. Power down.
Declare the hour before bedtime a digital-free zone. Not only does the bright blue glow of tech toys disrupt your body clock, but that one last look at Facebook can easily turn into an hour of mindless web surfing that could be spent doing something more enjoyable in the morning — like savoring your AM cup of coffee.
3. Tidy up.
Fact: Mess causes stress. Princeton University researchers found that visual clutter (think: piles of mail, clothes, etc.) inhibits our ability to focus, leaving us feeling frazzled. Before you hit the hay, do the dishes, take out the trash, hang up your clothes, sort the mail and stash TV remotes and magazines. Putting things back in their rightful place will have a calming effect, too.
4. Lights out.
Exposure to too much electrical light before bed can significantly suppress levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps make us feel sleepy, a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology finds. Dim the lights or turn off all unnecessary lighting after dusk to help you ease into sleep naturally.
5. Cool off.
Cool evenings may make you want to crank up the heat, but you’ll snooze better if you don’t. The optimal sleeping temperature is somewhere between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Temps in this range cause a drop in your core body temperature that initiates sleepiness, say sleep experts. Worried you’ll be too cold to crawl out of the covers come morning? Treat yourself to a new pair of cozy slippers or a warm, fluffy robe and leave them at the foot of the bed.
Prep Your Body & Mind
1. Sip Tea.
Decaffeinated herbal teas like chamomile and passion fruit have a calming and sedative effect on the body. Plus, there’s something comforting about having a hot beverage before bed. Just creating the habit of pouring a cup may help signal your body that it’s time for sleep, helping you relax and unwind.
2. Curb late night snacking.
Sugar in sweets we often crave at night wake us up right when we’re trying to wind down. What’s more, late night eaters are prone to overeating, increasing the risk of unwanted weight gain. If your tummy is really grumbling before bed, reach for a healthier snack like whole grain crackers and cheese, walnuts or almonds—all of which contain sleep-inducing tryptophan.
3. Stretch it out.
4. Write on.
Mental to-do lists and concerns about work, relationships and finances can make it tough to turn our brains off at night. To calm racing thoughts, keep a small notebook or notepad on your nightstand. Just thought of something you need to do? Jot it down. Have a worry that’s leaving you tossing and turning? Write about it. Studies show putting our thoughts to paper help us problem solve, clear our heads, reduce stress, and make us feel happier.
5. Smell something nice.
Inhaling serene scents is a great way to ensure a restful and relaxing night’s sleep. Evidence suggests certain aromas may actually reduce blood pressure and heart rate, creating a calming effect in the body. Mist this sedating scent around your room, over your pillow and even on your body for a soothing bedtime ritual: