How to Relax Before Bed

How to Get Better Sleep: Tips for relaxing before bed

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Visualization. Close your eyes and visualize somewhere peaceful where you feel at ease.  Think about the colors, scents, and feelings.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

How to Get Better Sleep: Tips for relaxing before bed

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!

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  1. says

    As someone who is a FIFO worker (fly-in, fly-out) in Western Australia, my evening ritual is about to become ALL about getting myself into the right mindset to get a good night’s sleep. I’ve been back in the city for a few months, and as of the 16th I’ll be back onsite working 10hr days that start at 4am. Getting into FIFO work made me realise that I can’t function without at least 8 hours’ sleep, so here’s what I do:

    * Avoid caffeine after midday
    * Keep an eye on the time, allow yourself an hour or more to wind down before going to bed.
    * Have a relaxing shower (no baths on site, alas!), sprinkle a little water soluble lavender in the shower recess for an aromatherapy boost
    * switch off the TV, computer, laptop, kindle … reduce light sources where you can.
    * ‘Program’ yourself to fall asleep to a podcast or sleep app (I like the sound of rain)

    Sonnet, thanks so much for the magnesium tip, I’ll definitely give that a go!

  2. says

    I just signed up for your newsletter. I’m so far very impressed with your articles, photography and message. Thank you. I have struggled with sleep issues since forever….well since I started having kids some 32 years ago. :) I struggle with shoulder and neck pain, so your tip about the buckwheat pillow certainly helped. I use one of those contour-type pillows like you used to use. The other thing I struggle with is inflammation, I started taking MSM for that. I forgot about magnesium helping with sleep. That’s the next thing on the list. The other problem I have is my husband. I love the man to pieces, but he is a cuddler at night and a bed hog. I usually end up on one fourth of my side of the bed hanging on for dear life. The other problem…..we only have a full size bed!! I know, I know, how can two people sleep in a full-size bed…but like I said, my husband is a cuddler, and for him the smaller the bed the better. We are currently looking for new mattresses, so I’m hoping for a queen-size. Fingers crossed. Then for a while it was menopause issues with hot flashes and anxiety. Talk about sleep deprivation. Anyway, I’m looking to do some serious bedtime revisions to create a better sleep. Your articles are helping.

    • Sonnet says

      Hi Laura,

      I’m so glad this was helpful! I’m crossing my fingers for a larger bed for you too! I have two cats so I find a queen a bit snug with just myself and them. :) I hope a new pillow and mattress make a different so you can get some better sleep!

      Take care!

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