With the current state of the world, it’s no surprise that our attention spans are shorter than ever, burn-out is painfully prevalent, and we are having a harder time creating healthy boundaries between our work and home lives.
Creating a bedtime routine is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself, and implementing acts of self care into that routine will help you relax, unwind, and achieve better ZZZs.
What Is Self Care?
There are multiple ways to interpret the term “self care.” The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
However, self care is a broad concept that does not solely apply to your physical health. Self care can also refer to anything you do to take care of your mental and emotional wellbeing. As licensed psychologist Marni Amsellem, Ph.D., says, “self care is anything that you do for yourself that feels nourishing.” This can mean anything from taking a long bath to going for a run in the morning—whatever makes you feel more empowered, centered, and joyful.
Why Is Self Care Important?
Contrary to some first impressions of the term, self care does not equate to being selfish. The implementation of acts of self-compassion is linked to a longer lifespan, better stress management, and an overall increase in happiness. Taking time out of your day to focus on you not only improves your general wellbeing but can also improve your relationships. Self care encourages you be the best version of yourself and allows you to transfer those good feelings to others.
Why Should You Incorporate Self Care into Your Bedtime Routine?
Practicing self care before bed can help you get better sleep, which can, in turn, improve your mental clarity, productivity, motivation, and energy. It can also encourage you to dedicate some time to relaxation, which is crucial to your mental and physical health.
Here are a few ways to combine self care with your bedtime routine — which will not only improve your evenings but your mornings as well.
1. Make Sleep and Self Care a Priority
When you start winding down for bed, force yourself to step away from work and prioritize relaxation. Set a bedtime and honor it instead of staying up late to catch up on emails, scroll through social media, or binge-watch a new show.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of self care; it affects your mood, motivation, and livelihood. Therefore, your nightly self care routine should not only focus on the winding-down aspect, but also on sleep itself.
2. Set Aside Time for Your Bedtime Routine
A successful bedtime routine involves giving yourself enough time to relax and get some deep, restorative ZZZs. Try setting an alarm to signal that it’s time to start your nightly self care routine. It’s important to give yourself a decent amount of time to wind down—your routine should take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, or longer if possible.
3. Consistency Is Key
To really reap the benefits of self care and a healthy bedtime routine, you need to be consistent. Starting your routine at the same time every day and getting into bed around the same time each night will set you up for success. Maintaining a routine makes it easier for your brain to start shutting down when it's time to snooze. Repeated routines help to put your mind and body on "autopilot" allowing you to more easily relax and unwind.
4. Unplug and Unwind
You’re probably tired of hearing how bad blue light can be for your sleep. Unfortunately, it’s the truth! One study showed that blue light notably decreases the production of melatonin, the hormone your body produces to make you sleepy. One of the best things you can do for your self care bedtime routine is to keep electronic devices like TVs, laptops, and cellphones out of your sleep space. You can even take this tip a step further by going device-free earlier in the evening to give your brain the chance to wind down from work, social media, and texts. Blue light-blocking glasses are also a good option to try if you enjoy winding down to Netflix.
Try putting your devices into Night Shift mode in the evening and switching to Airplane mode before bed. If you want to go nuclear, you can always unplug your WiFi router before bed to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of late-night doom scrolling.
5. Turn Your Bedroom into a Sanctuary
Your bedroom should be a safe and inviting place of rest and relaxation. To create a relaxation-worthy atmosphere, try dimming the lights and lighting some candles or using a soft amber night light for a warm and inviting glow. Turning your thermostat down to a hibernation-inducing temperature, between 62 and 75 degrees, can help send a signal to your body that it’s time for rest. To complete your sleep oasis, make sure your bedding is cozy and comfortable. If you tend to sleep hot, consider bedding made from cotton or bamboo, which can prevent you from overheating in bed.
6. Soothe Yourself with a Warm Beverage
Experts say to avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. However, you can still treat yourself to a delightful drink! Instead of that nighttime glass of wine, try sipping some warm, decaffeinated tea before going to sleep. Chamomile, lavender, valerian root, and lemon balm are some of the top choices for bedtime tea.
7. Treat Yourself to a Luxurious Bath or Shower
A warm shower or bath is proven to help make you sleepy and is the perfect place to recharge alone after an exhausting day. Try dimming the lights and lighting some candles, using luxurious bath products and relaxing scents, listening to soothing white noise, guided meditation, or your favorite audiobook. For a positivity boost, envision the water washing away the stress of your day. This visualization technique can do wonders for your mood and help to put you in the right headspace for a good night’s sleep.
8. Pamper Yourself
After stepping out of your warm bath or shower, treat yourself to even more self-love with a self-massage. Try giving yourself a thorough hand or foot massage with a yummy-smelling lotion or cream. This is also a great time to practice your skincare routine. Whether you have 20 products to apply or are more of a wash-and-go person, use this time to get in tune with your body. You can even try a facial massage, gua sha, or a face mask for extra luxury.
9. Grab a Good Book
Reading is a wonderful way to wind down and help you drift off into dreamland. Try choosing a book that doesn’t involve a lot of effort or thought (yes, we mean boring.) Or go for something positive and inspiring and read something that gives you joy and puts you into a positive headspace before bed. Reading is an effective way to distract from the urge to pick up those pesky electronic devices.
10. Give Journaling a Try
Writing out your thoughts can help prevent that dreaded bedtime anxiety and gives you the opportunity to let go of stress before climbing into bed. Keeping a notepad and pen on your bedside table is a fantastic way to encourage yourself to engage in some healthy self-expression before hitting the hay.
11. Embrace Meditation & Mindfulness
Meditation is scientifically-proven to help you overcome insomnia. It helps release any built-up tension and stress and encourages you to focus on the present moment. There are a variety of meditation and mindfulness apps, podcasts, and videos available online or you can simply focus on your breath while visualizing your stress melting away. Adding intention to your actions can help ground you and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed, and meditation before bed will set you up for a positive, fresh new day.
12. Open Your Senses with Aromatherapy
Invoke a sense of calm with relaxing aromatherapy. From essential oil diffusers and pillow sprays to candles and incense, there are a variety of ways to include scents in your nighttime self care routine. You can even try out an essential oil-infused pillow. Lavender, chamomile, and peppermint are some of the most popular scents for sleep and relaxation, but you can always mix and match to find the perfect sleep smell for you.
13. Make Tomorrow Easier
Extend your evening self care into the following day by getting prepared. That can mean jotting down a “To Do” list to help reduce anxiety, tidying up your space for peace of mind, or setting goals or intentions to keep you on track. Before bed, try doing whatever small steps help you feel ready to tackle your daily tasks so you don’t end up lying in bed, anxious and overwhelmed about the day to come.
14. Set Signature Bedtime Sounds
Just like scents, sounds are an excellent way to let your brain know that it’s time to wind down. Consider creating a pre-bedtime playlist filled with relaxing songs, podcasts, guided meditations, or ASMR soundtracks. There are plenty of guided meditations available on Youtube, and there are even specific apps that can help you get your Zen on.
White noise machines are also an excellent option for filling your evening space with relaxing audio. You can even schedule a timer on your Dohm Connect, so that it turns on at your preferred time, keeping you on track for your nightly routine.
You might also want to think about changing your alarm tone and setting it to something you actually want to hear. Instead of jarring noise, try nature sounds or a song that puts you in a positive mood.
15. Get Flexible
Giving your muscles a nice stretch is a terrific way to relieve tension in your body and calm your mind before bed. A variety of bedtime yoga routines are available on Youtube, or you can try out a few simple stretches to relax your muscles while listening to some soothing sounds. Foam rolling is similar to giving yourself a massage and can help increase blood flow while providing relief for muscle soreness.
16. Connect With Loved Ones
Taking some time to reconnect with your partner, family members, or friends can help put you in a positive headspace. From a short phone call to journaling, meal prepping, massages, or engaging in deep conversations, a sense of connection might be just what you need to feel centered.
17. Be Realistic
When creating your bedtime routine, only choose activities that you actually enjoy doing. If you enjoy doing them, you’ll want to do them. This will make sticking to your routine that much easier in the long run. Not into exercise? Try gentle stretches in bed. Does tea gross you out? Try some hot chocolate. Your self care should be personalized to you, your lifestyle, and your goals. Don’t feel the need to copy someone’s routine—choose the ideas that resonate with you and leave the rest.
Are you excited to start incorporating self care into your nighttime routine? Let us know on Instagram!
Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your sleep or your baby, please contact your healthcare provider.