The nightly unwind: create a relaxing ritual
Whether you’re braving a long commute, cooking dinner for the fam, logging extra hours on a project, or (gasp) all three, a peaceful nightly unwind often comes last.
As we move into a new year and a new decade, maybe it’s time to reimagine this important aspect of how we care for ourselves. Slowing down our minds and readying our bodies for deep rest is a ritual that costs nothing — and brings our health and well-being immeasurable benefits.
There are tons of things you can do to create a nightly unwind that works for you — from meditation to aromatherapy to reading a chapter in that book you’ve been saving for quiet time that never seems to come…
Here are just a few facts and fixes to get your evening hours on track toward peaceful slumber.
Sleep fact: Don’t let stress and anxiety get between you and sleep.
Loathsome stress and its equally irksome cousin, anxiety, are leading culprits in keeping us up at night. That’s why managing stress should be a top priority in your quest for better sleep. If stress isn’t addressed, it will not only prevent you from sleeping well, in the morning your fatigued body produce even more stress hormones, creating a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation.
Sleep fix: Nighttime is the right time to…relax and unwind. Have a cup of chamomile tea. Soak for a spell in a hot bath. Turn off your screens when bedtime draws nigh— all of them, smartphone included (Do we need to say that your phone has no place in the bed with you? #itcanwait). Turn the lights down low. Every night may not be the most idyllic unwind ever, but practice your nightly rituals regularly and your sleep will benefit.
Sleep fact: Unwind your monkey mind with meditation.
Someone once said, everyone needs to meditate for 5 minutes a day, except the people who don’t have time for it. They need to meditate for 30. Meditation is all the rage, and there’s a good reason it’s so popular — its benefits for reducing stress and anxiety are backed by science. It’s also known for improving sleep, lowering blood pressure, and enhancing mood.
Sleep fix: We already told you about the Remrise app for keeping a sleep diary, but guess what, it’s also great for guided meditations. So whether you have 5 minutes or 30, take time to turn off your email and tune in to yourself.
Sleep fact: Just say no to that nightcap before bed.
Another familiar stress shortcut? Reaching for a glass of wine to chill out (we understand, truly). Before you uncork that Pinot on a random Tuesday, be aware of how alcohol impacts your sleep. In a word, poorly. Alcohol upsets your circadian rhythms and your sleep patterns, reducing the time you spend in REM sleep, the most rejuvenating phase of sleep.
We hate to burst your nightcap-and-chill bubble further, but THC isn’t a good alternative. It has has its own adverse effects on sleep. People might take it to get to sleep more easily, but they’re inadvertently cheating themselves on the deep sleep that makes them feel rested and re-energized in the morning. Even worse, trying to quit brings extra sleep struggles.
Sleep fix: If you can, avoid drinking alcohol during the week, particularly close to bedtime. And if you do have a glass of something, just be reasonable — try to limit your intake to a single glass of red wine with dinner, or savor it on the weekend instead.
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