I think all of us know what it feels like when we’re not getting enough sleep: we wake up feeling cranky, groggy, and exhausted. And, I’ll be the first one to admit that when I wake up feeling cranky and exhausted, it doesn’t get much better as the day goes on.
By now most of us have heard enough about the benefits of getting more sleep so you probably don’t need me to go into a lengthy explanation here, but I do think it’s important to mention that getting better sleep improves our immunity, boosts energy and mood, increases mental clarity and physical energy, and decreases inflammation. This sounds pretty good to me.
Awhile back I wrote Part 1 of this series on How to Get Better Sleep, which focused on improving your bedroom environment. In this post, I hope to address the next step of the equation: how to wind down at the end of the day.
With busy lives and hectic schedules, many of us experience daily (if not constant) sources of stress and anxiety. Personally, I have found that my stress levels drastically impact my quality of sleep so it only felt right to address stress and relaxation before bed.
Here are some of my favorite ways to relax before bed:
- Deep breathing. Try closing your eyes and taking deep, slow breaths. Feel your chest expand and try to make each breath deeper than the last.
- Visualization. Close your eyes and visualize somewhere peaceful where you feel at ease. Think about the colors, scents, and feelings.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. Muscle relaxation is especially helpful for people who have tightness in their body from stress. Start at your toes and focus on tensing your muscles, then relax completely. Work your way up through the body, tensing each muscle and then relaxing.
- Take a bath. Not only is the hot water immensely soothing, but I’ve found that bathing at the end of the day makes me feel like I’m washing off any negative energy and emotions from the day.
- Massage. Massage is another wonderful way to relax the body. Sit on your bed and warm a small amount of coconut oil between your palms. Start massaging your feet, and work your way up through each part of the body, using more coconut oil as necessary. Finish by massaging your face and scalp.
- Listen to relaxing music or a podcast. I’m obsessed with listening to Tara Brach’s meditation podcasts (you can find them on iTunes) before bed because her voice is incredibly soothing and she always has a beautiful message to share.
- Try magnesium. I’ve shared a lot of my personal experiences with magnesium supplements here on the blog before (you can check out my Calm-Marita and Blood Orange Spritzer recipes) and I highly recommend trying magnesium if you are someone who (like me!) struggles with stress and inconsistent sleep.
Note: I was NOT asked to mention any of these products and this is NOT a sponsored post. I am recommending these because they have worked really well for me and I wanted to share that experience with you. I am NOT a medical practitioner and you should always consult a medical professional if you have questions or concerns about adding supplements to your diet.
Magnesium is a mineral that you can find in sea vegetables, dark leafy greens and green vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and cacao. However, due to mineral depletion in our soil and cooking/heating our food, most of the magnesium in our food supply is minimal by the time it reaches our bodies. And, if you consume coffee, sugar, or high amounts of protein, this can also deplete magnesium levels in the body. Magnesium deficiency can cause depression, fatigue, PMS symptoms, headaches, constipation/IBS, stress, anxiety, and insomnia so it’s especially important for good sleep.
A little over a year ago I began taking a magnesium supplement and have noticed a huge difference in the way it impacts my sleep. I use the Natural Calm magnesium supplement, which mixes easily with water and creates a sweet bubbly beverage. I usually drink this after dinner (around 7:30 pm) so that I feel relaxed and ready for bed by 9:00. This also gives me the perfect amount of time to rid my body of excess fluids so I’m not waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
Another supplement that works really well for me is Herb Pharm’s Nervous System Tonic, which is added to water and tastes like a strong herbal tea. This tonic works really well for me during the day if I’m stressed at work and I’ve found it to be the perfect way to ease my nerves if I’ve had too much caffeine or if I’m too wound up at the end of the day.
What are your favorite ways to relax before bed? Share your tips below!