Science backs it: More sleep equals better cognitive function, and better looks. Yep. Not only does good sleep make your brain work faster and smarter, it also helps your skin repair, leading to that coveted glow. But what if you’re not getting that restorative sleep you need? Or you just can’t calm down at night? The key, say many experts, is creating a bedtime ritual so your brain knows it’s time to wind down. Here are our favorite tips to start creating that ritual, to help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and wake up refreshed.
Create a Pre-Bedtime Ritual
Maintaining a consistent, pre-bed ritual helps trigger your brain to realize it’s time to slow down, and get ready for rest. Starting to wind down at least an hour before you want to fall asleep is ideal. Try a cup of tea or a sleep supplement to give your body the heads up that it’s time to relax. Then, do that ritual every night (yep). It’s the consistency that enhances the brain-body connection and tells your body it can drift into sleep.
This is also the part where we tell you to turn off your screens, be they smartphone, tablet, computer or TV, at least an hour before bed. Do we need to remind you that the blue light that emanates from screens has been proven to decrease the levels of the sleep hormone melatonin?
Keep Your Bed Reserved for Sleeping
It’s another Jedi Mind Trick: If you watch TV (or even read!) in bed, your brain and body learn that your bed isn’t just for sleeping. Do other pre-bed activities in a different spot so that when you climb under the covers, you’re triggered to start dozing off.
Make Sure You Have a Soothing Environment for Sleeping
Once you’ve wound down and given your body time to decompress, creating a soothing sleep environment can really guide your body into the zzzzzzzzzzs. Adding in a bedtime guided meditation can help further calm your mind, and using an essential essential oil spray with lavender and blood orange can give you an extra edge to relaxation.
Also, keeping the bedroom where you sleep at a cooler temperature (this will vary depending on your personal preferences—you don’t want to be too cold to fall asleep!) will help you drift off faster.
Don’t Toss and Turn
Muscling your way to sleep doesn’t work—we all know that. So if you can’t fall asleep even after your bedtime ritual, get back up. Rolling around under the covers, with your anxiety or anger about not falling asleep building, will only add to your inability to doze off. Instead, get up and read a book or magazine (no screens!) until your eyes start drooping, and then try, try again.
The same goes for the kind of anxiety where you might ruminate on what’s happening at work the next day or you roll over in your mind something you’re worried about. Instead of giving in to that, get up and write down those anxieties. Once they’re out of your mind and on the paper, you might find your brain can relax—and be ready to count some sheep instead.
By treating the root cause of insomnia, we have helped hundreds of patients achieve better sleep without medications. Learn more about our visit options.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.