Is it us, or is a good night's sleep harder to come by these days? With our always-on schedules, enticing screen time, and skyrocketing levels of stress, it's no wonder many of us feel like zombies during our waking hours. We're being robbed of rest, whether we're aware of it or not.
While there's a lot we can't control (hello, news cycle), the good news is there's a ton we can do to help our bodies and minds wind down and prepare for a peaceful rest. These eight rituals are science-backed ways to help lull our physical and mental states into sweet, sweet sleep:
1. Light a candle as a reminder of your digital boundaries.
Digital boundaries can be extremely difficult to enforce. But when it comes to getting better sleep, it's for the best. Blue light from screens has been shown to disrupt sleep, and engaging with your phone until you fall asleep keeps your mind active. One study, for example, showed that adolescents who engaged with social media more often had a harder time falling and staying asleep. A blue light filter or blue-light-blocking glasses may help according to research, but setting clear boundaries can be a game-changer.
Sleep experts recommend putting your phone away an hour before your head hits the pillow but say that even 30 minutes will make a difference. When it's time to wind down, light a candle. This simple gesture can be a reminder to your body and mind that you're done working, responding, and scrolling for the evening.
2. Savor a sweet moment.
Consider this permission to indulge at bedtime—albeit with a small dose of good-for-you chocolate. Sleep-inducing neurotransmitter GABA and calming saffron make the Fast Asleep chocolate mints from Objective superior to other sweet turndown choices. The saffron extract ingredient in the formula has been shown to promote deeper, undisturbed sleep in all participants of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study (and bonus—it's also been associated with cardiovascular and mood-boosting benefits), while extensively studied GABA is known to help lull us to sleep.
3. Relax with your legs up the wall.
We all know that yoga is beneficial, but did you know it's been associated with improved heart rate variability and vagal tone? That's a fancy way of saying that regular yoga practice may help you control your internal environment. Experts at Harvard University maintain that legs up the wall is one of the best yoga poses to do for a restful sleep, as it promotes circulation, lymph drainage, and revives tired tootsies.
To do it, simply lie down on the floor and shuffle your seat close to the wall. Slide your legs up the wall, resting your shoulders and head on the floor. Lay your arms comfortably by your side, palms face-up. Close your eyes and rest deeply.
4. Write out a "Brain Dump" list.
One polysomnographic study (a specific kind of sleep study) has shown that people who jot down things they'd like to accomplish the following day fell asleep significantly faster than those who journaled about the day's events. Spend five minutes writing down what you want to accomplish the next day, and try to do it with a pen and paper instead of on a screen.
5. Massage yourself or your partner.
In case you needed another reason to learn and practice self-massage, or massage with another, well, it's great for sleep! Massage therapy can help quality of life and sleep patterns, and it's been linked to less back pain and fewer nightly sleep disturbances. Convinced? Up-level your massage by using a good-for-you moisturizer. Objective's Lift + Smooth, developed to promote anti-aging in the arms, chest, and neck, gives those oft forgotten about areas a boost with silica, pea extract, and glucosamine and can plump fine lines and lift saggy areas.
6. Take a warm bath or shower, and moisturize with lavender oil.
There's something so luxurious about soaking in warm water for a few minutes before slipping into a deep slumber. It relaxes tight muscles and is mentally and emotionally symbolic of washing the day away. Using a lavender product in the tub or shower, whether it's an oil or a body wash, is linked to increased feelings of calm and sleepiness and can also improve the quality of sleep once you're there.
7. Do facial gua sha to melt tension.
mbg Collective member Britta Plug has lauded the benefits of facial gua sha, a type of face massage that employs a stone tool, for years. In a study that compared the physical effects of foot massage and face massage, participants who received the face massage experienced a higher drop in blood pressure and decreased level of alertness, both telltale signs of relaxation. There's a reason gua sha devotees proclaim "gua sha stoned" status. Try this tutorial before bed or even in bed.
8. Boost your nighttime skin regimen with a nourishing tonic.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a substance our skin makes on its own, but production decreases as we age. There are two ways we can boost our supply: Using skin care that contains it and supplementing our diet with HA. Oral supplementation of HA has been shown to moisturize from the inside out. To wake up looking refreshed and glowy, try a high-quality HA supplement like Objective's Smooth + Luminous powder in a warm tea or cup of water before bed.
Whether you do one of these or try them all, chances are you'll doze off more easily and stay asleep more successfully. If you can only do one, pop a chocolate.
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