We all probably know the benefits of a good night sleep. It is important for our concentration, health and mood, our overall emotional wellbeing. That’s why when we can’t fall asleep or keep waking up in the middle of the night, we feel frustrated. Watching the clock go by for some of us might be stressful experience, fearing not getting enough sleep and subsequently the consequences of it.
Going to bed without giving the brain time to slow down, time for ourselves, results in all kind of thoughts starting coming as we hit the pillow. Deadlines, conversations, things we forgot to finish, the list is endless.
That’s when creating evening rituals comes handy.
I am using here the word rituals instead of routine, as for me the word routine means you do something automatically over and over again. Automatically, without thinking, is the bit, I have slight problem with. Yes, the evening rituals are more effective when performed regularly, although it does not have to be every day, it is quite liberating to give a rituals miss now and then and come back to them later. Or change them slightly from time to time. However, for the rituals to work, you have to be present, paying attention to them, mindful.
I have following suggestion for evening rituals, you can experiment with few and see which ones are the right for you, which calm you down and work for your body and mind.
1. Create relaxing environment, atmosphere.
Keep the lights dimmed, light the candle or incense to engage your senses. Calming aromatherapy oils include lavender, camomile, ylang ylang or sandal wood. Experiment with few which bring you the most peace and calm.
2. Make yourself an herbal tea.
Again, good tea for sleep is camomile tea, lavender or with passionflower. I would leave out strong black tea or coffee. From my own experience, even green tea can cause sleep disturbances if drank too close to the bedtime, however it can be enjoyed during the day. Find a comfortable place to sit and holding the warm tea inhale the tea aroma for a few minutes, paying attention to your breathing. According to The Sleep Charity, warm milk or hot chocolate is sometimes beneficial for good night sleep too.
3. Journal about your day.
You can write down even small achievements. What did go well that day? Plan 3 things you would like to achieve the next day. Choose 1 thing that you are trying to postpone for ages and 2 things you enjoy. Write down things what are you grateful for.
4. Have a hot relaxing bath or shower.
Again, choose essential oils which calms you down. According to the study hot water relieves muscle tension, lowers blood sugars and blood pressure. It is also beneficial for your heart.
Regular meditation can positively impact our mental health. It helps reduce stress, negative thoughts and help with self-awareness. It also sharpens our attention and ability to solve problems. You can try first to meditate for 5 minutes and slowly increase the time.
6. Observe your thoughts for a moment.
Is there anything which keeps resurfacing over and over again, playing the same thoughts or conversations like an old gramophone? Take a paper and set an alarm for 20 mins. Write down, this time without thinking too much, anything which comes to your mind. You don’t need to solve anything, just offload everything on the paper. After this, tear it to pieces, scrunch it and throw it to the bin. Pay no more attention to it. Chances are, it won't bother you anymore after this.
7. Read a few chapters from your favourite book.
Relaxing music or listening to audio book or podcast can also help to unwind.
8. Learn something new.
Give your brain some new experiences. It can be new language lesson, calligraphy, zentangling, knitting etc.
You can start with one and slowly add more. The whole routine does not need to be long, it can take from 10mins to half an hour or even longer, depends on your actual mood and needs. Enjoy the good night sleep.