Recently I wrote an article about morning routines highlighting seven positive and powerful ways to begin your day (you can read it here), but when it comes down to it, the best way to start your day is by making sure you get a good night’s sleep. Now, we all know that sleep is important for your health: physically, emotionally and psychologically, and that sleep is our body’s way of resting, repairing, and rejuvenating. A bad night’s sleep can leave you feeling weak, tired, cranky, and confused the next day, and overtime sleep deprivation can lead to many chronic health problems such as depression, heart disease, and obesity. Now knowing and doing are two separate things, and unfortunately in our “hectic” world, winding down at the end of the day is always much easier said than done. Many of us turn to alcohol and sleeping pills for a quick way to hit the hay – which in return make us feel even angrier and groggier the next morning. What a vicious cycle it is. So how do we stop the cycle? Well, like anything it takes time, but below are five suggestions, “evening rituals” if you will, to help you turn down and tune out, ensuring you a solid night of shut eye.
Turn it Off Doctors and scientists seem to collectively recommend shutting off all electronics (cell phone, tablet, laptop, TV) at least 15-30 minutes before you are about to turn in for bed. And their reasons make sense: less cognitive stimulation means more shut eye. As you Facebook and email and watch TV mindlessly, the neurons in your brain are firing, working hard, instead of winding down. The light from the screens of electronics also tends to affect one’s internal clock, delaying the release of the melatonin, or the sleep-inducing hormone, and often triggering the release of cortisol, or the stress-inducing hormone. Emails and Instagram can wait until the morning, and if you normally watch TV before bed, try reading a book instead.
Sip On Some Tea Instead of having that third glass of wine as your night cap (it’s OK, we never judge) pour yourself some chamomile tea. Chamomile is known as the night-time tea because of its stress-relieving and nerve-settling properties. If you don’t like chamomile try any type of non-caffeinated, herbal tea like ALOHA’s new line of organic teas here (use code “sunburntandsalty” for 20% off!). Something warm before bed always give me that cozy feeling.
Moon Salutations Moon Salutations, or Chandra Namaskar, are the not-quite-as-popular, younger sister to the Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskar. Chandra Namaskar is used to counteract and equalize the body from the heating, energizing properties of Surya Namaskar, bringing the solar, masculine, yang energy into balance with the lunar, feminine, cooling, yin energy. Moon Salutations are great to do in the evening, before bed, or anytime when you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and in need of cool down. Check out this great instructional Moon Salutation video here by Eckhart Yoga.
Meditation/Reflection on Your DayTake a few minutes before bedtime to quietly sit and reflect on your day. Whether it’s journaling or meditation, find a practice that helps you to decompress, releasing any negative energy and limiting beliefs that you don’t want to carry with you into the night and into the next day. It’s important to “empty your cup” before bed so that you can completely let go and relax into a good night’s sleep. Like Rolf Gates says, “In order for the physical body to let go, the mental body must relax first.”
Peppermint & Lavender Muscle Rub
This is one of my favorites! I’m really starting to get into aromatherapy and essential oils and I’ve found that this muscle rub is both soothing and relaxing, ensuring I get some quality Zzz’s every night. Combine a few drops of lavender and peppermint essential oils to a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba. Rub the oil into sore muscles and joints, targeting the areas that tend to hold stress. Or have your partner rub it in for you. Just breathing in the lavender and peppermint is soothing in itself. Get yourself extra Zen by placing a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow or wrists.