It's been a stressful year, and all that emotion can spill over and affect the quality of your sleep. Because when you're doom scrolling until 3 a.m., you're likely not going to feel your best the next day. Sleep is such an essential component to your overall well-being — everything from memory and concentration to weight to the amount of collagen in your skin can be affected — so it's important that you set yourself up for the best rest possible. And sure, your comfort during the night is important, but focusing on a good pre-bedtime routine is just as essential. Keep reading for the scoop on how to create wind-down habits that will give you the best night's sleep, every night.
Physical touch — even from your own hands — has been shown to release oxytocin, the hormone that helps relieve stress, in your brain. Self-massage is a great way to comfort yourself and help your body settle, and honestly it just feels really good. It also helps with blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. Don't just limit yourself to your shoulders — try getting into pressure points on your hands and feet; rub away tension in your calves, IT band, and glutes; or focus most of your energy on your face, temples, and scalp. To make the most of your self-massage, use your favorite body oil or balm with a subtle, soothing scent, and if you want to up your massage game, try out a gua sha tool.
Take a Sleep Gummy
Getting into the habit of taking a sleep gummy will help normalize your sleep cycle and get you to sleep faster. To get to dreaming quickly and deliciously, try OLLY Sleep gummies — they're made with a blend of melatonin, L-theanine (an amino acid that encourages calmness), and botanicals such as chamomile, passionflower, and lemon balm*. These active ingredients help calm all your racing thoughts and get your body feeling relaxed and ready to drift off. Take two of these blackberry-mint-flavored babes before bed, and wake up feeling rested and prepared to take on the day.
Read a Book or Listen to a Sleep Story
An essential note to keep in mind for your before-bed ritual: put away your phone, and step away from any other screens like your computer, TV, or tablet. The blue light from your screens tricks your brain into thinking it's daytime and makes it harder for you to transition into sleep mode. Set an alarm for an hour before you need to fall asleep, and put away your phone. Instead of scrolling, read a book or magazine, or listen to a sleep story on an app like Calm. You could even listen to a podcast, but you'll want to stay away from any topics that are going to make you anxious or excited. Mellow is the name of the game!
Set a Peaceful Mood
Before your head hits the pillow, create a peaceful, cozy atmosphere in your bedroom. An essential-oil diffuser set up next to your bed has so many benefits — the added humidity is great for keeping your skin from drying out overnight and helps with nasal congestion, and the scent from the oil helps soothe your mind and prepare you for bed. Choose a scent that isn't going to be overpowering — something that includes notes of lavender, chamomile, or vetiver is best for bedtime. You could also spritz your favorite scented room or linen spray on your pillowcases and sheets for a long-lasting experience.
Meditate or Do a Breathing Exercise
Your breath works in mysterious ways — you can self-soothe and calm your brain just by altering your breathing patterns. Play with techniques like alternate-nostril breathing or inhaling and exhaling on a count to see how your body reacts. Meditation can also be the key to getting your brain to quiet and your body to relax. This doesn't have to be super involved or scary! You could start by finding a guided mediation online, or just do something as simple as sit in bed and focus on your breathing for a few minutes. You could also look into yoga nidra, a form of guided meditation meant to put you in a sleep-like state, to help you get into an even deeper moment of relaxation.
Keep the Lighting Dim
Just like you don't want to be looking at screens right before bed, you also shouldn't be sitting around in a bunch of bright light. You want to keep your body and brain in bedtime mode, so keep all your lighting on the low, warm side. Turn off any overhead lights, and rely on lamps or even candles as you close out your day. You could also try a smart light that helps you both wind down for bed in the evening and wake up slowly and peacefully in the morning.