A good night’s sleep truly is the key to a great day. And the key to a good night’s sleep? A restful nighttime routine! My sleep hygiene has improved leaps and bounds since I created my foundational nighttime routine years ago. But every once in a while, I like to switch things up. Here are five things I’ve added to my nighttime routine for better sleep. Try them for yourself!
How to Know If You Need a Better Nighttime Routine
Just about everyone could benefit from a better nighttime routine. Your nighttime routine gets your body and mind ready to sleep, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. If you don’t properly prepare for sleep, you could end up exhausted and anxious the next day.
Some more signs you need a better nighttime routine:
- You struggle to fall or stay asleep at night. At the end of a good nighttime routine, you should be able to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep for most of the night. If you can’t, work on your routine!
- You find yourself worrying about work at bedtime. A proper nighttime routine should help you brain ‘clock out’ from work. If you can’t keep work out of the bedroom, it’s probably your nighttime routine.
- You go to bed at different times every night. It’s okay to pull a late night out with friends every once in a while. But if you don’t have a proper bedtime ever, that’s not good.
- You have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. If you’re a serial snoozer, that’s a sign you’re not getting high-quality sleep.
- You feel tired no matter how much you sleep. This is a sign that it’s not the duration of your sleep that’s the problem, but the quality. A better nighttime routine can help you get more deep, restful sleep.
Of course, sleep isn’t the only kind of rest you need. Check out my post on the seven essential kinds of rest to learn which type you need the most.
Causes of Poor Sleep Hygiene
Contrary to popular belief, proper sleep hygiene is about more than getting your eight hours a night. It’s also about sleeping deeply and soundly through the night. It takes your body about 90 minutes to get into the REM stage of your sleep cycle. This is the stage where your brain does its most important nighttime work: memory consolidation, emotional processing, and preparing for waking up. If you sleep fitfully, you probably lose out on some important REM sleep.
There are tons of factors that can lead to poor sleep hygiene, many of which are unfortunately out of your control. These are things like background noise, temperature extremes, and light pollution. That being said, there are plenty of factors you can control, things like…
- An irregular bedtime or sleep schedule
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Drinking caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime
- Spending too much time in bed during the day
- Screen use and mental stimulation before bed
The key to a great night’s sleep is optimizing the factors you can control in your nighttime routine.
My Nighttime Routine Checklist
In my opinion, a solid nighttime routine includes three types of activities:
- Something to prepare you for the next day. This might include packing your lunch for the next day, picking your outfit, or writing a to-do list.
- Something to relax your body. This might mean stretching, giving yourself a foot massage, or doing your skincare routine.
- Something to relax your brain. This might look like meditation, reading a cheesy romance novel, or journaling.
If you can check these three boxes, you’ll have a pretty solid nighttime routine! (For more on creating the foundation of your nighttime routine, check out this post.)
5 Ways to Get Better Sleep & Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Ready to improve your sleep hygiene with a solid nighttime routine? Try adding one of these five activities to your foundational nighttime routine.
1. Try a meditative skincare routine.
Personally, my skincare routine checks all the boxes on my nighttime routine checklist. It gives me soft, glowy skin for the next day. It feels amazing. And it feels almost meditative, which helps calm my mind after a long day of work.
I’ve been using this Stressed Skin Recovery Kit for my nighttime skincare, and it feels like I’m giving myself a facial. I break out when I’m stressed, so I use this kit to help smooth bumps and tone down redness.
Of course, the key to making your skincare routine truly meditative is the process, not the product. Turn on some soothing music, slip into your PJs, and really treat yourself! Skincare is such a small part of self care, but it really can help you relax, forget about the world, and prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
2. Take a gut health supplement.
Supplements, Livia? Really? Hear me out! Studies have shown that a balanced, healthy gut can improve your sleep quality. And since your gut microbes create sleep-regulating hormones like melatonin, it only makes sense that a healthy gut makes for healthier sleep.
To supplement my diet, I’ve been taking Ritual’s gut health supplements every night. It takes ten seconds, but it’s made a major improvement on the quality of my sleep and my energy levels the next day. Plus, I get bloated when my gut is unbalanced, and I cannot sleep with bloat. My gut health supplements help me regulate things even when I fudge my diet.
3. Stretch and soothe your muscles.
Stretching before bed is a great way to relieve stiffness and improve circulation before falling asleep. And if you exercise regularly, stretching before bed can also help ease any soreness or discomfort that might keep you awake.
This doesn’t mean you have to jump into a full yoga workout before bed. (In fact, you shouldn’t!) Just do some slow, gentle stretches. You can combine stretching with heat therapy or aroma therapy to soothe and relax you even more. (If I’m feeling extra stiff and stress from working at my desk all day, I’ll throw on a heating pad for a few minutes and use a lavender room spray.) Listen to your body, and give it what it needs to relax!
4. Engage in some self pleasure.
Yep, you heard me right! I believe masturbation should be part of every woman’s self care routine. Plus, it’s scientifically proven to improve sleep! When you orgasm, your body releases hormones that reduce blood pressure and stress, preparing you for a more restful night’s sleep.
In addition to the physical benefits, masturbation is also a way to forget the rest of the world and tune in to your body. Even if it’s not part of your nightly routine, give it a try! (And if you want to switch things up a bit, check out some of my favorite toys in this blog post.)
5. Have a warm drink.
Nothing gives me that warm, fuzzy, sleepy feeling like a warm drink before bed. My go-to is a cup of chamomile tea with a bit of honey. If you drink dairy, you can also try a glass of golden milk. Cow’s milk contains tryptophan, which increases melatonin production, and turmeric can decrease inflammation and stress. It’s the perfect combination!
Another thing to keep in mind: There are a few things you shouldn’t drink before bed, like caffeine, alcohol, and sugary beverages. All of these can make it harder to fall and stay asleep. Avoid caffeine for six hours before bed, alcohol for three hours before bed, and sugar for two hours before bed.
Still feeling tired? You might be missing out on other types of rest.
Sleep is just one part of a rejuvenating rest routine. Click here for my FREE guide on the 7 Types of Rest Every Entrepreneur Needs.