Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of routines. I’ve already discussed how a set of morning habits can cultivate success, but I’ve done my best to adopt smart, routine things to do at night, too. Is it possible that others think I’m kind of a control freak? You bet. But that structure in the morning (and in the evening) prepares me for anything that’s thrown at me in between; if I reset my mind and body right before I go to sleep and directly after I wake up, I feel like I can take on anything.
It turns out that morning people are statistically more successful than night owls (and happier, too), but that ability to think creatively and hit the ground running begins the night before. No one — or no one that I know, at least — wakes up at 6 a.m. after a super late feeling especially rejuvenated. The next morning you look exhausted, and that's nothing compared to how your body actually feels. You're likely less prepared for handling the next-day impromptu group presentation, for example, than your early-to-bed coworker. That’s why it’s imperative to have a nighttime ritual that settles your mind, relaxes your body, and puts you to sleep feeling great — so you can wake up motivated, looking refreshed and invigorated, and ready to tackle everything on your to-do list and then some.
Create A Nighttime Beauty Routine
Bee Friendly Natural Night Cream, $25, Amazon
Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin says that routines are essential all the time, but especially before bed, because patterns help the body prepare and know what to expect. This Bee Friendly natural night cream uses all-organic ingredients like raw honey, essential oils, beeswax, and olive oil to nourish and hydrate your skin in a healthy and non-greasy formula. But more than that, it also helps you to create a routine: When applied nightly at the same time before bed, your body will start to associate its pleasant scent and smooth feel with sleep. Reviewers love it because its lightweight formula firms skin and reduces breakouts, and a little goes a long, long way.
Do Some Writing To Relax Your Mind
1 Page At A Time , $10, Amazon
Silberman also suggests doing a little bit of relaxed writing before bedtime, as it helps us feel like we’re “dealing with” our thoughts and concerns, so they don’t come up as much during the night. If you don’t consider yourself a writer and the idea of keeping a notebook overwhelms you, this 1 Page At A Time journal is an awesome, un-intimidating place to start. Adam J. Kurtz, the author of this little gem, casually prompts you with relaxed questions and quirky illustrations so you can ease into a nighttime writing routine. With connect-the-dots exercises and rant-about-that-one-person prompts, this journal will help you clear your mind of any excess stress, rage, or creativity so you can conk right out when your head hits the pillow.
Utilize Essential Oils' Health-Giving Qualities
Iduna Bedtime Blend, $18, Amazon; InnoGear Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser, $24, Amazon
Essential oils (which are concentrated oils taken from plants and herbs) are finally getting some much-needed recognition, as studies are finding that they show positive effects on mood, stress, and other health concerns. This Iduna bedtime blend is a great, all-natural remedy for insomnia and stress, as it contains organic and eco-harvested lavender, marjoram, sweet orange, and clary sage. Because the oils are so concentrated, it’s imperative that you use one that’s super high quality (because if pesticides are present, they’ll sink into the body along with the oil), and this one uses only the best organic ingredients. Reviewers say it’s a wonderful addition to any bedtime routine. This essential oil can be diffused into the air and breathed in through aromatherapy, put in the water of a hot bath and absorbed into the body, or applied topically to the skin for massages and medicinal purposes.
Block Out The World
Silk Sleep Mask, $10, Amazon
According to a study by the Journal of Neuroscience, our body takes cues from the outside world to determine our circadian rhythm, which in turn dictates sleeping patterns. Because we used to live in a world with no artificial light, melatonin release starts as soon as it gets dark — or it’s supposed to, anyway. Artificial lights from street lamps, screens, and even your digital alarm clock disrupt sleeping patterns, and that’s why this silk sleep mask is a great solution for people who have trouble falling asleep on time. It’s made with soft, comfortable, and lightweight silk that won’t put pressure on your nose or eyes, and it’s even washable and adjustable, too. Reviewers say that after trying tons of different sleeping masks for years, this is the one that finally allowed for a comfortable, restful, and (most importantly) dark night’s sleep.
Unwind Without A Screen
Adult Coloring Book, $8, Amazon
Sleep specialist Stephanie Silberman, Ph.D, says that relaxation exercises and busying your brain are great techniques to help you fall into a restful sleep. This adult coloring book is an awesome way to relax before bed because it busies your mind and helps you unwind with beautiful, in-depth patterns, but it won’t keep you awake any longer than you should be. Unfortunately, many people stay up later than necessary when they unwind with Netflix, TV, and mobile Facebook, which (due to the light coming off your screen) inhibit melatonin release and stop you from getting tired. This book comes with a whole variety of 45 different illustrations, and reviewers love it because the pages are thick enough to use with anything from pencils to gel pens. The backs are blank, too, so you can tear and display, and the pictures are fun and inspiring for any adult looking to lighten up without light.
Drink Herbal Tea Before Bedtime
Baetea Sleep Tea , $19, Amazon
Drinking hot water before bed is great for digestion, cleansing, and regulating body temperature — all of which do wonders as far as a healthy sleep schedule. Unfortunately, I hate the taste, and other drinks made with hot water (coffee and black tea) have caffeine that keeps you awake. Baetea's tea allows for all the benefits of hot water before bedtime combined with a great taste and a few other relaxation-inducing ingredients. It’s made with chamomile, orange juice, and vanilla powder, and because it’s natural, organic, and caffeine-free, you’re helping your body ease into its nighttime detoxification system. Fans of the tea say it tastes delicious and doesn't even need sweeteners. One user, who often struggled to get to bed early, said they fell asleep 30 minutes after drinking this, and said, "What ensued was the most restful sleep I have had in months — a deep sleep that resulted in me waking up to a little bit of drool (TMI, but hey, it's a sure sign I've gotten the sleep that I'd too long deprived my body of)."
Start Meditating Before Bed
Guided Relaxation For The Body And Mind, $3, Amazon
According to a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, meditating before bed not only helps you get a better night’s sleep, but it helps you clear your head of all the thoughts and worries that built up during the day, therefore lessening anxiety and depression. This Guided Relaxation For The Body And Mind is one of the best-selling audios on the subject because it combines relaxing music, the sound of beach waves, and a soothing voice (or your choice of the three) to ease you into a restful sleep. The narrator, Dr. Minnick, has a comforting voice that she uses alongside imagery and stress-reducing techniques, and reviewers say it’s improved both their sleep schedules and overall sense of well-being. In a society that’s perpetually in fight-or-flight mode because of stress at work and an overwhelming pressure to succeed, this is a must-have for anyone’s bedtime routine.
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Write Out Your Plans In An Organized, Creative Way
Tools4Wisdom Planner, $28, Amazon
According to Einstein, "Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think." If you’re headed to bed with a head full of things you need to do tomorrow, your mind will naturally mull them over, so you won’t forget — but you also won’t relax. This organizing planner helps you plan your days right when you need to, so you can rest easy knowing you’re prepared. It has a spot for weekly, monthly, and yearly goal planning (as well as general priorities), and it’ll add a little clarity to your life (and look awesome on any desk). One happy reviewer even said, "Incrementally but surely, finally getting assignments done ahead of time, planning for work and keeping in contact with friends and family."
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