When it comes time for bed, the last thing you want to do is spend your time tossing and turning under the sheets, thinking about all the tasks you have to accomplish tomorrow or what happened in the beginning of your day.
The best way to fall asleep is to be relaxed, but many people get into bed still feeling like their mind is racing and reeling. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it’s hard to get your brain to stop.
“One of the keys to getting a good night’s sleep is preparation,” says Dr. Susan Blum, Functional Medicine practitioner. “A good nightly wind-down routine will not only help you to fall asleep, but will also help you to stay asleep.”
Nighttime habits are important for relaxing your mind, so it’s helpful to know what can help switch your brain off and what actually can make sleeping worse. For an easy and relaxing time getting to sleep, try these six ways to shut off your brain before bed.
1. Turn Off All Electronics
“Begin at least an hour before bedtime by turning off any electronics such as the television, computer, smart phone, iPad, etc.,” says Blum. “The light from the screens and the stimulation of watching them literally keep your brain in the ‘on’ position.”
2. Make A List
“Purging your brain of the days worries is one of my favorite strategies for ‘overthinking’ and insomnia,” says Sharon C. Martin, LCSW. “You can either keep a more formal journal or simply jot down whatever is on your mind for 5-10 minutes right before bedtime.”
3. Create A Bedtime Ritual
“Our bodies and our brains respond well to patterns, so I task clients early on to start creating a ritual or pattern around their bed time,” says E.J. Smith, M.S., NCC, LPC. “It tells your body and your mind that it’s time to start going to sleep. For example, setting up the coffee pot, putting the phone away, brushing your teeth, taking a few minutes to journal, meditate or pray, etc.”
5. Take A Hot Bath Or Shower
“Take a hot bath or shower,” says psychologist Venessa M. Perry. “The water will soothe you and relax your tired body. Washing the day off you will go a long way in settling down for the night.” Studies show that bathing in hot water before bed can help you fall asleep faster and experience better sleep.
6. Try A Muscle Relaxation Exercise
Progressive muscle relaxation has been around since the 1920s, and it has been said to help with insomnia. “Lie on your back and bring all your attention to your body,” says mindfulness trainer Joy Rains.
“Begin a process of gently tightening and releasing each muscle group, starting with your feet and working your way upwards to the top of your head. Hold each muscle as tightly as you can for about 5 seconds, then release it completely and see if you can notice the difference between the muscle tightened and the muscle relaxed. Move onto the next muscle until you’ve relaxed your entire body.”
Photo by andrewr