Relaxing Bedtime Ritual – 6 Steps to Have a Better Sleep for 2019

Do you ever lie awake at night, with thoughts racing through your mind? Instead of drifting off to sleep, your brain is buzzing with ideas, and you find yourself tossing and turning, trying to catch some sleep.

Being unable to fall asleep at night because your mind is overly active is one of the most common sleeping problems. This kind of hyperarousal doesn't only happen after a stressful day – feeling "wired and tired" plays an essential role in chronic insomnia too.

In our always-on, always-connected world, it's easy to keep yourself busy ‘til right before bedtime – if you have bedtime at all. Unfortunately, your body and mind don’t have an on-off button that you can flip when it’s time to fall asleep.

To produce sleep-inducing hormones and calm your nervous system, you have to transition from stimulating activities to sleeping. That’s why you need a relaxing bedtime ritual to help you wind down and get a good night’s sleep. 


Why You Need a Bedtime Ritual?

why you need a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

Winding down before bedtime has never been more necessary. Never before in human history have we had so much information coming at us every day, there's also an unlimited amount of entertainment at our disposal – That's designed to keep you engaged in your electronic devices for as long as possible.

However, late-night activities like checking your work email and watching thrilling movies prep your body and mind for action, even when you should be getting ready for bed.

A bedtime ritual doesn’t just help you to slow down; it also functions as a signal that it’s time to go to sleep, prompting your body to prepare for a good night’s rest. For example, when you consistently drink a cup of chamomile tea before bed, this habit will slowly become a cue for sleeping. After a while, that night-time routine will automatically trigger a cascade of physical changes that help you doze off. 

Step by step Creates a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

Step by step Creates a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

So now that you know why should create a relaxing bedtime ritual, where do you begin? Here are some psychological tips for designing a night-time routine that you’ll stick to.


Set a Bedtime

It may sound boring or childish, but creating a predictable schedule allows your biological clock to work at its best.

When you stick to a consistent sleep-wake cycle, your bodily systems will be able to anticipate events, like becoming sleepy before bedtime. Ideally, you’ll want to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, so choose a bedtime that ensures enough shut-eye before your alarm goes off in the morning. 


Start Winding Down 60 - 90 Minutes

Allow your body and mind to switch from being active and alert to a state of rest by designating a cut-off time for arousing activities.

If you easily get caught up in work or browsing online, you can set your alarm clock to wrap up what you’re doing and start slowing down. 


Don’t Do anything Too Stimulating – Physically and Mentally

Going for an invigorating run or cheering on your favorite sports team may be relaxing differently, but they’re probably not great for helping you fall asleep. To get a good night’s sleep, you’ll want to skip stimulating activities and choose more calming things to do instead.


Be Mindful of Using Electronic Devices

Is your idea of relaxing watching TV in bed or scrolling through social media? Online entertainment surely is engaging, but did you know that the blue light coming from electronic screens blocks the production of the sleep hormone melatonin? That’s why experts advise you to stop staring at bright screens 2-3 hours before bedtime, to avoid disruption of your internal clock. If you do want to use your phone or laptop at night, you could install an app that filters the blue/green wavelength.


Choose Rituals That Have a Soothing Effect

Meditation, playing soft music and even drinking a glass of warm milk all naturally relax your body and quiet your mind. When you’ve chosen which soothing actions you’d like to include in your routine, be specific about how, when and where you’ll perform your relaxing bedtime ritual. That way, your mind, and body will strongly link your new night-time routine to snoozing.


Finally - Stick to Your Bedtime Ritual

It takes time to form a connection between a behavioral cue (like taking a warm bath) and the desired response (getting sleepy). So try to consistently perform your bedtime ritual each night to learn to fall asleep quickly.

11 Ideas for a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

11 Ideas for a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

If binge-watching your favorite show isn't the best way to get a good night’s sleep, what can you do to relax your body and mind truly? Take a look at these soothing activities that would make a relaxing bedtime ritual.

  • Go for an evening stroll around the block to clear your mind
  • Have a soothing cup of chamomile tea. Chamomile has been used in folk medicine for centuries to calm the body and promote sleep
  • Take a warm bath. Make sure it’s not too hot because cooling down is a powerful signal to your brain it’s time for bed
  • Light a candle or burn incense. Burning candles and saying a prayer or mantra can be a meditative ritual. As a bonus, it also darkens your room, which triggers the release of sleep-inducing melatonin.
  • Practice gentle yoga poses. An intensive workout late at night isn’t a recipe for sleep, but gentle stretching releases tension from your muscles. Try this 7-minute yoga routine to wind down and prepare your body for a healthy night’s sleep
  • Journaling. Writing down what’s on your mind can help you let go of worries so that you can sleep soundly.
  • Make time for a non-stimulating hobby. Doing something you love is a great way to get rid of the stress that keeps you up at night.
  • Give yourself a foot massage. Gently rubbing your feet makes for a calming bedtime ritual. Also, with a simple self-massage tool, you can mimic the effects of a real massage from the comfort of your own bed.
  • Go analog. Put your sleep-disrupting screens away for an evening and read a book, play a game or listen to soft music.
  • Spray a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillowcase. The sleep-inducing scent will linger around long after you’ve fallen asleep.
  • Do relaxation exercises before bedtime. Techniques like deep belly breathing, visualization and progressive muscle relaxation all activate your natural relaxation response and improve sleep quality.

In Conclusion

If you have trouble falling asleep at night, a relaxing bedtime ritual can help you switch off and train your body to anticipate and prepare for sleep. Set a bedtime and start winding down at least 1 hour beforehand with a specific soothing activity. When you consistently perform your bedtime ritual, it should help you get a good night’s sleep and wake up fresh each day.


That's it for now. If you want to know more about why and how you should create a bedtime ritual, feel free to ask your questions in the box.

Jennifer Mulder is a Dutch psychologist giving in-depth advice on a healthy lifestyle and coping with chronic illness at The Health Sessions. Her eBook How to Create Your Own Action Plan for Recovery is a step-by-step guide on rebuilding your health after illness or injury.

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2 thoughts on “Relaxing Bedtime Ritual – 6 Steps to Have a Better Sleep for 2019”

  1. Great! My favorite thing to do before bedtime is to listen to soft music. It’s really helping me to relax my brain and body. 🙂

    • Hi Sarah,
      I am very grateful to receive your feedback. I will note it to the following posts can be better.
      Thank you so much!


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