A complete guide to better sleep

How to sleep better

Creating a thoughtful night time ritual may seem frivolous but it really does train your brain to decompress and shift into rest mode. Even if it is just 30 minutes you have it will make a difference into how relaxed you are before bed. That in turn translates to fall asleep faster and sleeping more soundly.

Why rituals are beneficial

A well designed ritual is impactful for one simple reason: It trains your brain.

Your brain likes repetitive habits for some things.  While it’s important to challenge your brain to keep it sharp, simple repetitive things don’t stress the mind and why they should be avoided when you are winding down in the hours before bedtime.  

When you think of a ritual think of a habit. THings you do everyday that don’t use much brain power. How you make your morning coffee, if you drive, the movement of your feet on the gas and brake aren’t given much thought because you do it so often.  Putting clean dishes away. They always go in the same place(s) so there is no thought to putting them where they came from.

How do you develop a ritual? It’s a two step process by removing some behaviors and implementing new ones that achieve the desired outcome. It is a practice that creates focus.

What facilitates best sleep practices

Let’s do some math here. In the form of subtraction and addition using the chart as a guideline. Remove the things that are stimulating your mind and body and replace them with calming behaviors. Pick the ones that resonate with you and you can do every night – or have it as part of how you handle the end of a stressful day. Select at least three. I suggest three because  of the time it will take. Just doing one thing isn’t enough to ease you from being awake to a restful state that allows you to decompress from your day.

how to sleep better

Magnesium saves the day – I mean the night

Adding epsom salt to your bath will help you go to sleep. The magnesium is absorbed through your skin helping your body to relax.. If you don’t enjoy baths or don’t want to take them nightly you can take a magnesium supplement an hour before bed.  Calm powder works like  a charm but I do keep magnesium citrate supplements on hand for nights I don’t want to drink anything else. 

wood hotel house architecture

Magnesium oil is very effective if you don’t want to take a supplement.  Several years ago my massage therapist turned me onto this miracle in a bottle. If you have body aches or restless legs this will take care of that.  It works well as sleep aid if you put a few sprays on the tops of your feet about an hour before bed. 

 Some studies suggest certain forms of magnesium can help with anxiety.

A warm drink to help you sleep

The ritual of making  a warm drink, be that tea, milk or cocoa then sitting with it slowly sipping away as you quiet your environment is a wonderful addition to your nighttime relaxation ritual. Give yourself a few options until you find a favorite or a few favorites so you look forward to it each night. Some teas contain herbs that facilitate sleep so it’s a double effect of helping you fall asleep.

close up photo of a green cup with a hot drink

I encourage you to do this on a stovetop because it is mindful and requires your attention rather than a microwave you wait for and try to multitask while waiting for it to heat.

Sleepytime detox is my favorite flavor. I have a cup I use just for this nighttime ritual to increase brain-training.  Using the same cup helps reduce decision fatigue. Your night ritual steps should be as mindless as possible.

Using crystals to help you sleep

I have post all about the best crystals for sleep and how to properly program them. 

Incorporating them into your  nighttime ritual  and how your mind remembers what you programmed them to do can be a very effective component.  How you taught them to work with you is key. I wrote about this here.

Then sit with your sleep crystals near your bed. Remember what you programmed them to do. This will remind you of how you want to feel when you sleep. Allow them to unburden you of energy you wish to let go of from the day. Allow healing and protection. Allow feeling wrapped in comfort and safety.

Preparing your body for sleep

Quieting your mind is half of the process and the other half is preparing your body by relaxing your muscles.  Put on something meant only for this time of day/night. Something that feels pleasurable against your skin. Nothing tight or binding. Light a candle in a scent you find soothing.

For the mind body connection try some stretching, very gentle. Nothing that will raise your heart rate. Slow thoughtful movements. Think of it as releasing tensions of the day. Stretch your legs, arms and back. I like a yoga wheel to roll out my spine as I complete my stretching. Flex your feet and hands so it’s a real head to toe body release.

Apply skin care, body care, creating long slow deep strokes that also help your muscles to relax. Even eye muscles near the brow bone, temples, scalp, the back of your neck, back of your legs, soles of your feet and palms of your hands.

Music to put your mind and body into a relaxed state

Consider playing some soft music like relaxing piano. No singing, nothing that will cause toe tapping. Think along the lines of spa music or instrumental piano.  You can find this type of music on paid platforms like amazon music or satellite radio, spa music cd’s and there are free options on youtube. Something with no ads that will be jarring and take you out of your relaxation process.

Additional things you can do to facilitate relaxation

If you have a pet, take time now to brush them or stroke them giving them soft assuring words as they look at you with love in their eyes. It’s great bonding time with them. It helps prepare them for sleep and relaxation as well.

If you’re struggling with racing mind always go to gratitude. Reflect on simple things taking your mind away from what is weighing on it.  A sleep podcast or other bedtime story read aloud with a calming voice helps some people. It distracts the mind by giving you something else to follow that is a simple familiar scene with no outcome or excitement so you can mindlessly drift off.

Sweet dreams to you. I hope some tips in this guide will help you sleep better in the coming nights.