A growing body of evidence underscores the importance of a good night’s sleep, indicating that it’s just as vital to our health as nutrition and hydration.1
Despite how much we may crave restorative slumber, it can easily elude us—particularly after a stressful day that leaves us stirring. On those nights, rather than tossing and turning or staring at your ceiling fan, the solution rests in creating a soothing sleep routine to help your mind and body unwind with ease.
In this guide, we’re exploring 10 evidence-backed suggestions to improve your bedtime routine.
#1 Run a Hot Bath
If you were raised in a household where evening baths were non-negotiable, your parents or caregivers might have been onto something.
Research shows that your body’s core temperature begins to decline one to two hours before sleep.2 This cooling down of your brain and body is imperative to non-REM sleep, the deep, rejuvenating slumber when your body repairs your tissues, bolsters your immune system, stashes away memories, and builds muscle.3
If the point is cooling down, how does a warm bath help?
When you emerge from the tub, your body temperature drops. This magnifies your body’s natural cool-down process and, according to research published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, may facilitate a better night’s sleep.4
Not much of a bath person? Not to worry—a hot shower may have the same effect.
#2 Slip Into Your Sleepwear
It might seem awfully basic, but oftentimes the most effective strategies work because they’re simple. If you’re wondering how to relax before bed, consider your bedtime attire.
Changing into your pajamas, sleep shirt, or even just a softer sweater sends a message to your subconscious that your day has concluded and rest is around the corner.
#3 Swap Out Your Nightcap
A cold beer or a glass of wine (or two, or three) may seem like the choicest and most expedient way to unwind after a long, trying day. Thanks to alcohol’s sedative effect, it might take the edge off in the short term and induce sleepiness in some.
The emphasis here, however, is on the short term. If you drink too much alcohol before bed, you might find yourself feeling even more dysregulated once alcohol’s effects have tapered off. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can wreak havoc on your sleep by:5
- Increasing wakefulness – Looking for ways on how to fall asleep faster? You might fall asleep faster after a libation, but the second half of your sleep cycle might not be as restful. Studies demonstrate that alcohol’s relaxing effects last for only the first part of the night. Once these effects subside, sleep quantity and quality are impacted—and not in a positive way. This fragmented state keeps you from obtaining the profound slumber you need to feel rejuvenated the next day.
- Heightening the risk of “parasomnia” – Overwhelming dreams, nightmares, sleepwalking—alcohol can raise your potential of experiencing what experts refer to as “parasomnia.” Besides, falling back to sleep after enduring a particularly vivid, disturbing dream can feel close to impossible, with or without alcohol in your system.
- Valerian root
- Magnolia bark
- Mitigating stress and tension
- Easing body aches and pain
- Improving circulation
- Promoting mindfulness
- Listening to music12
- Incorporating breathing exercises
- Using a relaxation technique or ritual
- Practicing mindfulness meditation13
- Watching a soul-comforting movie or television show (save The Walking Dead for a weekend afternoon)
- Cherries or a glass of tart cherry juice
If you do plan on imbibing, keep in mind that your body needs approximately an hour to process each drink you consume. Meaning, if you want to enjoy two martinis with dinner, do so at least two hours before you plan to hit the sheets.
This may curb your chances of sleep disturbances and save you from running to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Just be cautious: research suggests that people can become dependent on alcohol as a sleep aid in as few as three nights.6
#4 …and Opt for Herbal Tea Instead
A cup of hot tea may seem like a paltry replacement for a stiff drink but preparing yourself for a good sleep should be centered entirely around nourishment. Drinking herbal teas like chamomile tea has been shown to foster sleep, specifically:7
The very act of preparing herbal tea also sparks a sense of mindfulness—this alone can quiet a buzzing mind and may boost your chances of falling asleep faster. And if you’re craving something sweet, add a dollop of honey: it helps keep blood sugar levels stable and may help enhance sleep quality.8
#5 Perform a Series of Stretches
Stretching may not be part of your workout repertoire but the potential benefits of this physical activity is unignorable. It can be especially valuable after a stressful day by:9
You don’t need to bust out your yoga mat or devote a great deal of time to stretching, either. Simple spinal twists, neck rolls, seated forward folds, and hugging your knees to your chest can lull your body and brain into a more serene state.
#6 Empty Your Brain
Insomnia and anxiety—even brief, acute angst—are intimately connected, and few things can be a cause of poor sleep like a brain that refuses to start whirring.10
Why do we ruminate in the first place? Because our brains are desperately trying to rework a different ending to an issue that has either already resolved itself or requires a solution we can’t quite accept.11
Your anxious thoughts may continue to spin and exacerbate your inability to fall asleep if you don’t provide a “container” for them. How can you learn how to relax your mind to sleep?
This doesn’t always mean articulating them in your journal or over FaceTime with your best friend. Positive distractions can give your anxious thoughts the chance to chill out for a bit. This isn’t to say they won’t return upon waking, but it is to say that compartmentalizing them may give you the rest you need to navigate them clear-headedly.
A few ways to do so include:
#7 Turn Your Lights Down Low—and Tuck Away Your Devices
You may think of melatonin as a supplement you can pop to get some help nodding off after a transatlantic flight. This may be true, but melatonin is also naturally produced in your body—in your pineal gland, to be exact.14
Darkness triggers the release of it. It may be infeasible to shut off your lights completely as you prepare for bed—especially if you’re luxuriating with a novel—but dimming them may urge your natural melatonin banks into action. Bright lights, meanwhile, heighten the release of cortisol—a “stress” hormone that may keep you awake.
At the same time, put your smartphone and other devices down and away. Electronics emit blue light, which is notorious for interrupting our natural circadian rhythm and making sleep that much more evasive.15
We also know that it’s all too easy to get lost in doom scrolling and TikTok videos, which, let’s face it, are the antithesis of pacifying. If you must use one of your devices—to, say, watch Friends or read on your iPad—consider donning blue light-blocking glasses.
#8 Relish a Post-Dinner Bite
Experts across the board recommend refraining from eating two to three hours before bed. And while indulging in a rich meal late at night can certainly prevent you from easing into sleep, not eating enough—which is all too common after a stress-riddled day—can challenge your ability to drift off.16
The key is to eat a light snack that brims with sleep-stimulating vitamins, minerals, and hormones like magnesium, potassium, calcium, Vitamin D, serotonin, and tryptophan.
Consider putting together a small plate with one or more of these eats:17
#9 Supplement Wisely
Over-the-counter sleep aids abound. Used too frequently, though, and you can develop a dependence on them and feel drowsy the next day.18
A smarter option?
Reaching for a sleep formula that takes sedation out of the equation and organically supports rest through key vitamins, minerals, and hormones.
Cymbiotika’s Sleep brims with ingredients that may naturally promote rest and regeneration, such as Vitamin D3,19 L-theanine,20 GABA,21 chamomile extract,22 and L-Glycine.23
#10 Reach Out for Affection
Whether you pet your pup, cuddle with your partner, hug your child, or simply listen to calming music, each of these activities can propel the release of oxytocin—a chemical messenger, dubbed the “love hormone,” that may amplify sleepiness.24
Enrich Your Evening Ritual With Cymbotika
Gone are the days when a lack of sleep was a sign of industriousness or glamor. Research continues to reveal that solid sleep is one of the golden tickets to health, well-being, and longevity.25 And yet, occasional bouts of insomnia are prevalent, affecting between 15 to 20% of the population.26 The answer to your sleep struggles may lie in creating a calming nighttime regime—one that settles your mind, stills your body, and soothes your spirit.
Searching for even more ways to relax before bed? Explore Cymbiotika’s range of nurturing products. From our delicious Sleep formula to our Topical Magnesium Oil, our shelves are lined with natural and organic supplements that champion overall wellness.
Rest assured in more ways than one with one of our sleep-supporting products, and wake up ready and empowered to tackle the day.
- Harvard T.H. School of Public Health. Sleep.https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sleep/
- Frontiers in Neuroscience. The temperature dependence of sleep. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6491889/
- WebMD. Stages of sleep: rem and non-rem sleep cycles.https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-101
- NPR. Trouble sleeping? Try a warm bath to cool down: shots-health news.https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/07/25/745010965/a-warm-bedtime-bath-can-help-you-cool-down-and-sleep-better
- Healthline. Does alcohol make you sleepy? What we know.https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol/does-alcohol-make-you-sleepy
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Sleep, sleepiness, and alcohol use.https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-2/101-109.htm
- Healthline. The 6 best bedtime teas that help you sleep.https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/teas-that-help-you-sleep
- Clinical Trials.gov. Honey to improve sleep quality.https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04207281
- Medical News Today. Stretching before bed: benefits and stretches to try.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/stretching-before-bed
- Healthline. Anxiety and insomnia: understanding the connection and how to treat it.https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety-insomnia
- Psychology Today. Why do we ruminate?https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/test-case/201012/why-do-we-ruminate
- Sleep Foundation. Music and sleep: can music help you sleep better?https://www.sleepfoundation.org/noise-and-sleep/music
- Frontiers in Neurology. Meditation and its regulatory role on sleep.https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2012.00054/full
- Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Light as a central modulator of circadian rhythms.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4254760/
- Healthline. How blocking blue light at night helps you sleep.https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/block-blue-light-to-sleep-better#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
- Eating and Weight Disorders. An examination of the association between eating problems, negative mood, weight and sleeping quality in young women and men.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16755168/
- Healthline. The 9 best foods and drinks to have before bed.https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-foods-to-help-you-sleep
- Mayo Clinic. Sleep aids: understand options sold without a prescription.https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep-aids/art-20047860
- Current Pharmaceutical Design. Vitamin D and sleep regulation: is there a role for vitamin d?https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32156230/
- Sleep Foundation. L-theanine for sleep.https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-aids/l-theanine-for-sleep
- Neuroscience. GABA mechanisms and sleep.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11983310/
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine. The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people: a a clinical trial.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29154054/
- Psychology Today. 4 sleep benefits of glycine.https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201902/4-sleep-benefits-glycine
- Live Science. 11 interesting effects of oxytocin.https://www.livescience.com/35219-11-effects-of-oxytocin.html
- Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Human longevity is associated with regular sleep patterns, maintenance of slow wave sleep, and favorable lipid profile.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4067693/
- Sleep Foundation. Insomnia.https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia