There’s nothing more restorative than a good night’s rest, but getting our bodies and minds to relax to the point of good sleep is often difficult. There are so many things and tasks stealing our attention, and draining our energy, that oftentimes we have to make a concerted effort to relax before bedtime, to ensure we get truly restorative sleep.
These are the five things I do every night that I have found make a measurable difference in my ability to relax. And the best part is, you probably have everything in your house already to try at least four of these.
Free or cheap ways to relax, that don’t have you relying on supplements or medications? Now that’s chill!
1 – Hot Lemon Water
Not only is lemon detoxifying for your system and refreshing to your palate, but also when it’s mixed with hot water, it is incredibly relaxing. Take a few minutes to sip it as you unwind and enjoy!
Time saver tip: To spare yourself from having to constantly buy fresh lemons, try this instead.
2 – Epsom salt bath
Of course, there isn’t time for a bath every night. But when there is, I add Epsom salts to the water to help relieve my sore muscles from the day. Maybe it’s in my head, but I feel a difference when I pour a cup or two of this into the water.
3 – A good book
This feels so obvious, it’s almost embarrassing for me to include in on this list. Haha. But in this fast-paced day and age, sometimes we forget the enjoyment of the simple act of reading. To me, nothing can replicate the relaxation I get from digging into a good book. Not a magazine, or a website, but an actual book, whether it be on a Kindle, iPad or the old-fashion paper and glue kind. When my mind is forced to focus on one thing, rather than jumping from topic to topic (as it would in a magazine or while browsing online), I find that I relax much quicker.
Sidenote: If you’re reading on your iPad, be sure to turn on its Night Shift feature, which takes away the blue LED light of the screen. That blue light can interfere with your ability to relax. See #5 for more on this.
4 – 4:7:8 Breathing
This technique, championed by integrative medical doctor, Dr. Andrew Weil, involves controlling your breath to the counts of 4, 7 and 8. Here is what he suggests: Inhale quietly to a count of 4, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale audibly for 8 seconds. You can find the whole explanation here.
I’ve done this when I’m having trouble quieting my mind at night, and I’m always asleep by the third or fourth cycle. This exercise is magical.
5 – Ban electronics from your bedroom
And yes, that includes your iPhone! You may rely on your smartphone for an alarm, but maybe it’s time to pick up a cheap alarm clock off Amazon and rely on that instead. Why? Some studies show that the blue light emitted from electronic devices can slow the body’s production of natural melatonin, which is the hormone that tells our brain it’s time to shut ‘er down and sleep. As I said in #3, if you read on your iPad at night, turning on the Night Shift feature (in Settings) can mitigate this.
I’m not going to get all pseudo-sciency on you, but there is also a debate over whether the EMF emitted from common electronic devices like our cell phones can interfere with some of our bodies’ natural rhythms. Take that claim for what you will, but my thought is, even if you don’t buy into it, not having the temptation to check your phone constantly also goes a long way toward solid relaxation.
Hope this simple tips help you sleep better tonight! If you try them, let me know how they work!
How do you relax at night? I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips in the Comments section below!