We’ve all been there. You crawl into bed, drowsy and ready to drift into dreamland. But just as you start to doze off, you remember that you forgot to respond to an email. You open your eyes and reach for your phone. An hour later, you’re mindlessly scrolling through social media. It’s now well past your bedtime, but you’re wide awake.
No matter how tired you are at the end of the day, it can be hard to prioritize rest. Whether you have trouble falling asleep or you wake in the middle of the night, the way you approach bedtime can have a significant impact on your sleep.
Wisconsin-based writer Erika Z. knows from experience how helpful a bedtime routine can be. "I wrestled with insomnia for years," she says, "but through experimenting with different techniques, I’ve finally found several remedies for falling asleep without a struggle."
What Is a Bedtime Routine?
A bedtime routine is a series of steps that you take before retiring to your bed that ensures your mind and body are relaxed and ready for the sleep to come.
We’ve created a five-step bedtime routine that can calm both mind and body, preparing you to get the rest you need.
While we find this routine to be very beneficial, you don’t have to do all of these things — pick what works for you.
1. Set the Mood
An important first step in your bedtime routine is to create a peaceful environment for sleep. Turn your bedroom into a soothing sanctuary by keeping it dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. If you have a hard time falling asleep in silence, turn on a fan or white noise machine. Relaxing music played at a low volume also promotes restful sleep.
When it’s time to get ready for bed, put on a pair of comfy PJs and lower the lights in your room. You can turn down brighter lights in your home an hour after sunset to prepare your mind for winding down.
For extra comfort, consider laying a weighted blanket over your bed before you crawl in it. A weighted blanket may boost sleep quality by providing a sense of security.
Essential oils can also set the stage for sleep when sprayed on linens or used in a diffuser. After brushing your teeth and just before getting under the covers, spritz a soft lavender-scented room spray over your bed.
2. Meditate or Stretch
Take a few minutes to center your mind and loosen your muscles. This can make a big difference in how long it takes you to fall asleep. A quick ten-minute body scan meditation is a helpful addition to anyone’s bedtime routine. You can find them online, but essentially, you breathe deeply with your eyes closed, preferably lying down, and mentally "visit" each part of your body, identifying tension.
This type of meditation slows down your racing mind and helps you to locate sources of tension in your body so you can let go and relax. When you finish meditating, doing a few gentle yoga stretches can further prepare your body for sleep.
Doing simple yoga stretches before bed has the added benefit of encouraging you to take slow, steady breaths. This type of breathing can help lower stress levels and reduce anxiety. Even if you’re not a yogi, bending over to touch your toes or stretching your arms toward the ceiling can relax tight muscles.
3. Take a Hot Bath
Busy mom Kimbra P. is a big believer in the healing power of baths. "Baths are like love to me," she says. Whether you're running around all day with kids, working, or engaged in volunteer work, baths enable you to relax before bed. The warmth of the water eases any muscle aches from the day.
Taking a bath before bed not only relaxes your body but also allows you to slow your mind down and reflect on your day — or your life. When you’re in the bath, you can’t reach for your phone or engage in activity, so it’s a great time to just settle the mind. "Baths allow me to collect my thoughts in a relaxed and measured way," Kimbra explains. You can let go of the day’s worries and prepare for rest.
4. Savor a Cup of Tea
Enjoying a hot cup of herbal tea promotes the release of tension, and the act of drinking it allows you to feel grounded.
"The ritual of wrapping my hands around a warm mug and taking in the scent helps bring me into the present moment by gently redirecting my senses away from home chores or screen time," Erika Z. says.
Not sure which tea is the best bedtime choice? Many brands offer evening blends geared towards relaxation. Tulsi tea is deeply calming and has a lovely clove-like flavor, while chamomile is a traditional choice for soothing frayed nerves.
5. Put Down Your Phone & Pick Up a Book
Playing a game on your phone or reading on your tablet may seem like harmless ways to wind down. However, staring at a screen too close to bedtime can throw off your sleep/wake cycle.
The blue light and EMF (electromagnetic frequency) radiation emitted by electronic devices disrupts sleep by suppressing your body’s production of melatonin. This hormone tells your body it’s sleepy time. Although all types of light can lessen melatonin production, blue light is a powerful disruptor of natural circadian rhythms.
Turn off your laptop, tablet, phone, and avoid watching TV an hour before bedtime, and resist the urge to reach for them. If you rely on your phone to wake you up in the morning, keep it in a different room overnight — close enough to hear it, but not close enough to be affected by the blue light and EMFs. When it’s time to sleep, pick up a book instead of scrolling yourself to sleep. You may find yourself dozing off after only a few pages.
Bonus Tip: Take Supplements, Not Sleeping Pills
If you feel like you need a little extra help falling or staying asleep, certain nutritional supplements can be a gentle yet effective addition to your bedtime routine.
Valerian is another herb with a long history of traditional use for promoting restful sleep — and it works. Unlike sedatives that knock you out, Global Healing’s Organic Valerian Raw Herbal Extract™ can help you drift into a lovely, deep sleep without making you feel groggy the next day.
This mineral may improve sleep by binding to GABA receptors in your brain and nervous system. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that helps your mind "switch off" at night. This is key for people plagued by racing thoughts that keep them from falling asleep even when they’re exhausted.
Also known as holy basil, tulsi is a sacred plant in Ayurveda. It has been used for thousands of years to support the body’s natural stress response and encourage restful sleep. Our Organic Tulsi Raw Herbal Extract™ is an effective natural remedy for relaxation and sleep.
Points to Remember
Prioritizing rest can be a challenge, but creating a relaxing sleeping routine helps ensure a good night’s sleep. You’ll wake up energized and ready to handle whatever the day throws at you.
A simple bedtime routine can create healthy sleep patterns. We recommend setting the mood in your bedroom by making it an oasis for sleep to set the stage. Start your routine by meditating or stretching, then taking a warm bath, savoring a cup of herbal tea, and reading a book. Avoid staring at a screen before bed. You can pick and choose which of these works for you, or follow them all!
Do you have a bedtime routine? What does it involve? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
- Lai HL, Good M. Music improves sleep quality in older adults. J Adv Nurs. 2005 Feb;49(3):234-44.
- Ackerley R, et al. Positive effects of a weighted blanket on insomnia. J Sleep Med Disord 2015;2(3):1022.
- Naik GS, et al. Effect of modified slow breathing exercise on perceived stress and basal cardiovascular parameters. Int J Yoga. 2018;11(1):53-58.
- Abdullahzadeh M, et al. Investigation effect of oral chamomilla on sleep quality in elderly people in Isfahan: A randomized control trial. J Educ Health Promot. 2017;6:53.
- Shechter A, et al. Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: a randomized controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2018;96:196-202.
- Bent S, et al. Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2006 Dec; 119(12): 1005-1012.
- Abbasi B, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012;17(12):1161-1169.
- Cohen MM. Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014 Oct-Dec; 5(4): 251-259.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.