Getting restful sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. Research shows that when you are well rested, you think more clearly, have quicker reflexes and focus better. Sleep positively affects your immune system, energy level, heart health and mood. But with work and family demands, jam-packed schedules and so many shows to binge-watch, you may find it hard to wind down enough to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep you need a night. Here are five ways to help:
Shut off your devices. Completely power down your phone, laptop and tablet before you get in bed—and keep them off, even if you wake during the night. People who use devices before bed have poorer sleep than those who don’t, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The 52 million of us who fire off middle-of-the-night texts or emails fare even worse.
Tea up. Calming and comforting, caffeine-free herbal tea is an ideal bedtime beverage. A warm cup of chamomile, licorice root or mint tea may help encourage sleep and digestion and signal to your body that it’s time to start slowing down.
Stretch it out. In one study, participants with insomnia who practiced yoga daily fell asleep faster, slept longer and returned to sleep more quickly. Before bedtime, try some gentle poses, such as Legs Up the Wall, in which you lie on your back in an L shape with your legs forming a 90-degree angle against a wall; or Corpse Pose, in which you simply lie on your back on the floor and breathe slowly.
Take off the day. Ensure a fresh start tomorrow morning by washing away the day’s makeup, dirt and debris tonight. Cleanse your face with warm water, or hop in the shower to do all that and put your body into relaxation mode. Finish by pampering yourself with your skincare Regimen, and you’ll be ready to face the day (after a good night’s sleep, of course).
Make a list. Worrying about “incomplete future tasks” makes it difficult to fall asleep. Before you turn off your light each night, take five minutes to write down the tasks you want to accomplish the next day, or any other outstanding To-Do items. By doing so, you will (hopefully) fall asleep in a flash, and the elusive eight hours will be yours.
Do you have a go-to ritual that helps you wind down at night? Share it in the comments.