If your life is wearing you down and stressing you out, then you already know the worry doesn’t magically stop just because you climb into bed. In fact, in many ways, trying to lay down and sleep when you’re anxious often makes it all feel worse. That’s why it’s important to know some ways to de-stress before bed, so you can essentially turn it all off.
Finding that perfect soothing routine doesn’t just mean letting go of stress, however. It also means relaxing and getting better sleep — which is, of course, the most important thing when it comes to dealing with life. “Having better quality sleep allows us to be more efficient in our work and communication with others, shows an increase in ability to manage mood, and gives our bodies time to rest [and] rejuvenate,” life coach Jess Garay tells Bustle.
If you don’t allow yourself that time to reset, the following day will likely be just as harrowing. And on and on the vicious cycle will go. So read on for some ways to finally relax — even if you think you’ve tried every trick in the book. The tips below are expert-recommended, and will have you fallin’ asleep in no time.
1. Create A To-Do List For Tomorrow
If your mind is racing with everything you have to do tomorrow, sit down and put it all on paper. “Creating a to-do list of what you want to accomplish … will allow your mind to let the tasks go until the next day,” life coach Heather Monahan tells Bustle. “Keeping a pad of paper close to your bed is helpful in case you think of something that you need to add.” That way you won’t have to get out of bed, or worry all night that you might forget something important.
2. Put Your Phone On “Do Not Disturb”
You can hide your phone and try to pretend you don’t hear it ringing. Or, you can put that thing on “Do Not Disturb” and forget about it. “Mine personally shuts off at around 10 p.m., but that’s only because I run an online business,” author and life coach Kali Rogers says. “Otherwise I’d recommend shutting it off between 8 and 9 p.m. When your phone stops buzzing, you’re able to be present.” And then when you can truly wind down.
3. Do A Quick Clean Up
There’s something so calming about a quick tidy up before bed, which is why Rogers recommends doing some light organizing and prepping as a way to relax. You might want to fold your blankets and fluff some pillows, put away the dishes, or make sure your phone/keys/wallet are all in one spot. That way you can climb into bed feeling slightly more organized — and hopefully more relaxed.
4. Try A Guided Meditation
I know, it’s hard to make yourself sit down and meditate. And yet you should totally give it a go for those sweet, relaxing benefits. To make it easier on yourself, Rogers suggests giving a guided meditation app, like Headspace, a try. “They recommend doing it in the morning, but I like nighttime meditations,” she says. “This deep breathing will get you more in touch with your body and will help calm the nervous system.”
5. Focus On Something Positive
If all the stressful moments of the day are replaying in your mind, shut them down by thinking about something positive. “Say three positive affirmations about yourself, the day today, or the day tomorrow,” Rogers says. “Get in a positive mindset so your mind doesn’t fill with negative thoughts as you are winding down.”
6. Sip On Some Relaxing Tea
As far as nighttime rituals go, few are as relaxing as sipping on some chamomile tea. “It’s inherently calming and can add to the Zen environment you are setting up for yourself,” Rogers says. Make a cup, sit down, and let it work its magic.
7. Read A Light-Hearted Book
I know, it’s tempting to get wrapped up in a heavy news article or something gripping on TV. But we should all be doing something far more relaxing. “Instead, opt for a well-balanced self-help book that will direct your mind to something positive, but will also quiet your brain because it’s not overly stimulating,” Rogers says. That, or a light-hearted novel that’ll get you in the mood for sleep.
8. (Actually) Write In Your Journal
As with meditation, journaling is something we all talk about but hardly ever do. So here’s your friendly reminder to give it a try. “Keeping a journal and using it before bed will help you to let go of your day and your feelings when you are trying to rest,” Monahan says. I promise, it’s totally worth it.
9. Cool It With The Liquids
Of course you want to make sure you’re hydrated, but that doesn’t mean you should guzzle three drinks right before bed — especially if you’re someone who’s known for getting up in the middle of the night to pee. “Cutting off your liquid consumption an hour before bed can help you to feel confident you won’t need to get up when you begin dozing off,” Monahan says. A relaxing thought indeed.
10. Take A Soothing Bath
Even if you’re more of a shower morning shower person, I highly suggest adding a quick nightly bath to your routine. “Soaking helps to release physical stress from the body and the fragrance may improve relaxation as well,” says psychic and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport. “Also, nice clean sheets after a hot bath can do wonders for a good night’s sleep.”
11. Turn On Some Tunes
Deafening silence isn’t always relaxing. And neither is a blaring TV. So find yourself a happy medium with some soothing music. As Rappaport says, “Never underestimate the power of music. Some light classical music or other music that you love may help you relax and de-stress.” Same goes for some interesting instrumentals or a soothing meditation playlist.
12. Do Something That Makes You Really Happy
When it comes to relaxation, you don’t have to make it about baths or quiet music. If you’d rather go out or watch a movie or call a friend, have at it. “By infusing ourselves with joy we are able to release the burdens of the day and focus on positivity and … reduce stress,” says Garay.
13. Choose A Relaxing Scent
To take your brain to the next level of relaxation, you could keep it simple and fill your apartment with lovely aromas. “Soothing scents work,” Monahan says. “Using lavender essential oil right before bed will notify your mind it is time to go to sleep.”
14. Turn Down The Lights
When getting ready for bed, start turning the lights down and limiting the amount of time you’re staring into a screen. Then, get into bed in total darkness. “Making sure that there is no light coming into your bedroom will help you fall asleep,” Monahan says. “Oftentimes we may have a bright clock or some other light that can be disrupting our need for darkness at bedtime.”
15. Stick With Your Routine
Once you figure out your most relaxing bedtime routine, be sure to stick with it. “Creating a routine that you use each night will help you mentally prepare for bed,” Monahan says. “Finding a consistent time to start getting ready for bed will trigger your mind to begin to relax.”
And once that happens, you’ll be able to forget the day, relax, and actually get a great night’s sleep.