When you’re battling with stress or anxiety-induced insomnia, a predictable and relaxing bedtime routine will calm your brain and prepare it for deep, restful sleep.
A day filled with stress, negative thoughts, too many responsibilities, and not enough downtime will make your thoughts race and head buzz for hours. Which will render you incapable of falling asleep until the early hours of the morning.
In fact, that time you spend in bed, replaying every conversation you’ve ever had in your life, is the time when your brain is trying to release stress and fall asleep. And if you’re lucky you finally manage to fall asleep just a few hours before you need to wake up.
This all can be avoided with a good bedtime routine.
This bedtime routine consists of series of steps that will get your mind and body into a relaxed state and ready to fall asleep. Start with the routine at least half an hour before you want to go to bed, and let this be the last thing you do before you lay down.
Winning Bedtime Routine For Falling Asleep Easily
Dim the lights
Darkness or low light sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to release the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that makes you sleepy and it’s in charge of the sleep-wake cycle. It works as a natural relaxant. Spending some time in the evening with dimmed lights or under a soothing warm glow of a salt lamp will do the trick.
Turn off most of the lights leaving just enough lights so that you have visibility. Turn off all your screens and don’t look at them anymore. The blue light coming from screens will only make it more difficult to fall asleep. If you can, buy yourself a salt lamp. The salt lamp emits a relaxing warm light in red, orange, and yellow tones that remind of a fire glow or a sunset.
Stimulate the vagus nerve
The vagus nerve is the longest nerve and it goes from the brain all the way down to the gut. A toned vagal nerve increases your resilience and ability to cope with stress. To tone the vagal nerve you need to stimulate it daily. Stimulation of the vagus nerve has a beneficial effect on mood, anxiety, and depression. You can easily stimulate it with one of the following activities:
- Gargling – gargle water in the throat, with your head tilted back, 10 seconds at a time
- Laughing – laugh from your throat, fake laughing is also ok if you can’t find something that will make you laugh from the heart
- Slow breathing – spend 10-15 seconds on one breath (inhale-exhale)
- Singing and humming – take a deep breath and sing or hum from throat until you use up all air
- Vagus nerve exercises – watch the video below to learn how
Pick one of these activities and do it for a couple of minutes.
Drink a herbal tea
Humans have used herbs since always to treat many ailments, including insomnia. There are herbs whose smell and aroma have a calming effect on the nervous system. Some of the herbs that have this calming effect are sage, chamomile, lavender, and many others.
In this article, you will find recipes for delicious, aromatic tea blends perfect for de-stressing and relaxation.
After a while, this evening ritual with a cup of tea will instantly put you in a relaxed state.
Do a brain dump
A brain dump is a way to relieve your brain of unnecessary and repetitive thoughts. Worrying about your job, fearing for health, stressing about money, imagining hypothetical worst-case scenarios over and over in your head would make anyone gasping for air. Holding all these thoughts in your head will not help you prevent or even solve anything. It will only create stress and get adrenaline shooting through your body.
This is where brain dump comes to the rescue. You can write down all the thoughts you hold in your head. Tell yourself “I don’t need these thoughts, but here they can be if I will ever want them.”. Then go away from those thoughts physically and mentally.
Do a relaxing yoga pose
When you are mentally relaxed it’s time to bring it home with total physical relaxation.
You don’t have to practice yoga to benefit from one or two poses. There are beginner poses that will help you to completely relax your body.
In this article I wrote about the best bedtime yoga poses for deep relaxation and calm sleep.
A good bedtime routine always consists of small targeted habits that relax your mind and body to prepare you for restful sleep. It won’t take you more than a half hour to complete it and it will make your evenings stress-free and anxiety-free.