Create a Bedtime Ritual: Wellness Challenge
Create a meaningful bedtime ritual
“Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama
A couple weeks ago, I asked you to create a healthy 10-minute morning routine. This week, I want you to fine tune your bedtime habits.
For the next seven days, perform a 10-minute bedtime ritual before you go to sleep. Use this week to explore various pre-sleep routines and see what practices work well for you in achieving a great sleep.
Simple instructions for creating a bedtime ritual
- Create a 10-minute intentional and mindful bedtime ritual that defines the beginning of your sleep period and prepares you for a good night’s sleep.
- You can make your routine longer than 10 minutes.
- Your bedtime ritual must be performed right before you go to sleep.
- Once you complete your ritual, go to sleep.
- This practice should be separate from your daily bedtime routine which may include actions such as washing your face, flossing and brushing your teeth.
- Your pre-sleep routine can be physical, mental and/or spiritual. Ideally, it should be electronics-free.
- Examples include: reading something calming or inspirational, journaling/writing, drawing, practicing gratitude, prayer, performing gentle yoga exercises, meditating, focused breathing, stretching/performing mobility exercises, taking a warm shower or essential oil (think lavender) salt bath, drinking a soothing cup of herbal (non-caffeinated) tea, and making tomorrow’s to-do list.
Helpful tips for creating a bedtime ritual
- Plan your bedtime ritual ahead of time. Know what actions you will practice before you do them. This way, you will be prepared and can enjoy your bedtime quiet time.
- Begin your nighttime ritual at a consistent time each evening. The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven and nine hours of sleep a night for adults. Know what time you have to wake up and decide on the amount of hours you want to sleep. Then count backwards (the amount of hours you plan to sleep) from your wake up time to find the time you need to close your eyes.
- While you perform your bedtime ritual, create intentions for your sleep. Tell yourself what you want your sleep to be like. Make a mental note of this or write it in a journal.
- Perform your 10-minute bedtime ritual by yourself or with your partner.
- Dim the lights before starting your pre-sleep routine. Darkness cues your body to produce melatonin, a hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm and helps your body and mind wind down (and wake up come morning).
- Lower your thermostat’s temperature. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60-67 degrees is an ideal snooze temperature. The cooler your body is, the sleepier you become.
- Shut down your digital devices prior to your bedtime ritual and place them in another room. The light from the screens of smartphones, televisions, computers and tablets is blue spectrum light – a light that suppresses melatonin secretion. Just a few minutes of exposure before sleep can signal your brain to stay awake. To decrease the likelihood that you will reach for these electronic devices, keep smartphones, tablets and TVs outside of your bedroom.
- Declutter your bedroom. When performing your pre-sleep ritual, it’s best to do so in a non-cluttered space. This helps your brain declutter and get rid of anxiety and stress, which can keep you awake when it’s time to sleep.
- Avoid alcohol prior to beginning your bedtime ritual. Alcohol will keep you in the lighter stages of sleep from which you can be awakened easily. This will prevent you from falling into deeper, more restorative stages of sleep.
- Also avoid caffeine, nicotine and fatty foods before bedtime.
Why is having a bedtime ritual important?
You may have a daily morning ritual that helps you start your day feeling ready and energized and an after-work routine that assists with the transition from business to personal life. If so, that is great… but if you do not have focused nighttime habits in place that prep you for a deep and restful sleep, you are negatively impacting your health.
- Sleep is essential to optimal health. Poor quality sleep can slow your metabolism and cause fat gain, increase the release of the stress hormone cortisol, reduce your immune-system functioning, create inflammation and illness, exacerbate joint and muscle pain, decrease creativity, lower energy levels, cause mood and memory issues and reduce productivity.
- Good sleep begins before you close your eyes and hit the sheets for the night. Creating healthy pre-sleep habits and environments signals your body to prepare for a proper sleep.
- Creating a bedtime ritual is just as important as time spent preparing and warming up for a fitness session. Doing this consistently each night mentally and physically readies your body to function optimally during the next 7-9 hours.
What does your bedtime ritual look like?
Please share your thoughts and experiences with me and tell me how you prepare for a good night’s sleep.
- Do you practice a healthy bedtime ritual each day ? If so, what is included in your routine?
- Do you struggle to find the time or energy to consistently practice a pre-sleep routine before bed? If yes, what are the obstacles you face? What can you do to overcome these challenges?
- Is this a wellness practice that you will stick with after this week? Why or why not?
Past wellness challenges
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When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.