The value of a good night’s sleep is undeniable. Yet for some reason, we do ourselves few favours to prepare for a solid night of rest; We reach for our phones right before turning out the light, we stream our favourite TV shows in the dark, we drink copious amounts of coffee throughout the day to compensate for a poor night’s sleep (anyone else feel like this is a bit backwards…?)
Despite understanding how important it is to prioritize rest, a full night of restful sleep can be hard to achieve in this noisy day and age. That’s why we are here for you with a few evening rituals that you may enjoy incorporating into your bedtime routine.
Bedtime rituals can help promote a positive dialogue between your body and brain to prepare for rest. The hope is that if you’re able to keep up with your chosen rituals consistently enough, your body will begin to respond to the activities with the knowledge that sleep is right around the corner. (Think muscle memory!)
And after all, prioritizing sleep is prioritizing yourself; it is a simple yet radical act of self-love that we certainly believe you deserve.
Turn off your technology. So simple, yet these days, a tempting habit to avoid. But we are here to encourage you to put down your phone, tablet, laptop, etc., at least 30 minutes before you plan on heading to sleep. (An hour is even better!) And really, there are very few things (save for emergencies) that require our attention to be on our phones past 10pm.
We suggest setting an alarm to remind yourself when it’s time to set the devices down and make a conscious effort to do so each time it goes off. Soon, this will become a habit that you won’t want to break.
Has anyone else noticed how invasive thoughts and worries tend to amplify as the clock ticks onward into the night? Everyone? Yes, we figured. After all, “nothing good happens after 2am”.
Rather than let these worries swirl around your mind and body, preventing you from drifting off to dreamland, we recommend you pick up a journal and jot down any lingering thoughts that are taking up space in your head. Writing down your worries right before bed is an excellent way to clear your mind and put those nagging thoughts to bed. (No pun intended!)
CREATE A RESTFUL ENVIRONMENT
A relatively simple way to set yourself up for a good night’s rest is to recognize which elements in your environment are within your control and adjust them to encourage a restful and inviting environment.
Here are a few easy-to-achieve examples:
-Choose natural fabrics for bedding (think linen or cotton).
-Regulate the temperature in your bedroom (with spring’s arrival, it’s the perfect time to crack a window and let a cool breeze roll in).
-Wear lightweight and breathable pyjamas (linen and bamboo fibre are fantastic options for sleeping attire).
-Light a beeswax candle in your bedroom and enjoy the natural warmth it emits.
Does it have to be a beeswax candle? While any candle will emit a warm and soothing glow, the properties of beeswax are specifically ideal for sleep. The natural ionisation effect helps remove dust and other particles from the air while the natural aroma of honey offers gentle relief to the nervous system. (Just please, remember to extinguish your candle before drifting off!)
SOOTHE YOUR BODY, SOOTHE YOUR MIND
While we recommend avoiding any strenuous movement, gentle and nourishing stretches are a wonderful way to ready your body and mind for a restful sleep. Focus your mind on breathing deeply into each movement while letting go of the daily pitter-patter of nagging concerns. This simple act helps your body relax from the inside out and requires nothing outside of yourself to do.
Another soothing activity is to run a warm bath before bed. Fill the tub with warm water and a soothing aroma block or essential oils, and slip into the tub to soak for up to 20 minutes. A bedtime bath is a reliable and timeless treat for your muscles and mind at the end of the day.
In fact, have you tried our recipe for a bouquet garni for the bath? It’s a great way to use the herbs from your garden to create a heavenly oasis right at home!
Self-massage is another simple, daily ritual that can easily be incorporated into your nighttime routine. In fact, the action of self-massage is deeply rooted in the traditional practice of Ayurveda and is seen as a valuable act of self-love; a way to show respect for your mind, body and spirit. Ayurveda recognizes the skin as one of the body’s most important organs, so caring for it is of the utmost importance.
Self-massage, or abhyanga, is believed to bring oneself back into balance through increasing circulation, stimulating organ function, and helping your body detoxify while also aiding in relaxing the body and preparing it for sleep. It is one of the most effective ways to calm anxiety and can have lasting benefits for the overall health of your skin.
We recommend finding a body oil or lotion with a soothing scent (think lavender, mint, chamomile, rose), and giving yourself a short foot or hand massage every night before bed. It only takes a few minutes, but over time can have lasting and meaningful benefits for your sleep and waking life.
Music can set the tone for all kinds of activities. We recommend dimming the lights, putting on a relaxing playlist, and allowing it to play as you wind down and crawl into bed. If you’d like, leave it on as you begin to drift off! Let it fill your mind with comforting sounds and images to sweep you away to sleep.
Yes, you read that right: Bananas for sleep support! Though banana peel tea is what we’re going to talk about specifically.
Magnesium and potassium, both of which are contained in bananas, are natural muscle relaxants and will help calm the body’s nervous system which helps prepare it for rest. Bananas also contain an amino acid that helps the brain produce serotonin (for relaxation) and melatonin (commonly thought of as the sleep hormone). A wonderfully relaxing way to utilize the benefits contained in bananas for sleep is by preparing a tea made from its peel. (It’s also a great way to minimize food waste!)
1 organic banana peel with the ends trimmed off
1 ¼ cup of water
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
Place the banana peel and cinnamon stick into a small pot with the water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into a mug. Sweeten if desired and serve.
Other sleepytime herbal teas that can help you drift off are chamomile, passionflower, valerian, and lavender.
Finally, the most valuable piece of advice when it comes to winding down before bed? Keep your nighttime routine simple and filled with specific actions that genuinely appeal to you.
Let us know what you choose to incorporate into your own bedtime rituals and comment below with any sleepytime tips that have helped you over the years!