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Bedtime Ritual for Better Sleep

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Bedtime Ritual for Better Sleep

My daughters often complain that they don’t want to go to bed because it’s boring. For adults it often feels the same: even if you are in bed, you might still scroll through social media and keep yourself distracted just to avoid boredom of falling asleep. If it feels like it’s taking you hours of tossing and turning before you fall asleep, there are a few things you can do.

First, create the right mindset. Free from negative thoughts, stress and worry.  It is best to get into a habit of this as a ritual that you will do every night wherever you are.  

  1. Gratitude: Start by thinking about at least 3 things that you can feel grateful for
  2. Roses & Thorns: A rose is the best thing that happened today, a thorn is the worst.  Think of the rose for today and the thorn.  Take a moment to think about how you could have dealt with the thorn differently or how you can react in a better way next time or to prevent it from happening again. For the rose, think about how you could create more moments like that.
  3. Ten Deep Breaths – begin by breathing into the belly for 5 breaths taking a deep inhalation followed by a slow, deep exhalation.  Then, we begin a visualization breathing exercise where we focus on breathing in a positive quality that you would like more access to (for example, calm or relaxed) and breathe out everything that is negative that you do not wish to keep inside your mind or body. For example, stress/ worry or pain can be visualized as leaving the body.  Take a moment to think about how it looks to you – what color is it, what shape or texture?  Imagine breathing it out of your body.  You continue this with each exhalation while continuing to breathe in a positive energy. For some, especially in cases of chronic pain, it is beneficial to breathe in a “healing light energy” with each inhalation and exhale the pain with each slow deep exhalation.

Why is it important to do an evening ritual?

Research shows that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression and aggression.  A study published in 2012 in Personality and Individual Differences reported that grateful people experienced less aches and pains and were more likely to take care of their health.  Gratitude also reduces toxic feelings such as regret, frustration, envy and resentment. Finally, research published in 2011 in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being demonstrated that just 15 minutes a day of writing grateful thoughts before bed led to longer, better quality sleep.

With regards to breathing, science demonstrates that by taking a deep inhale followed by a long, slow exhale, you trigger a “relaxation response” by hacking the vagus nerve and slowing the heart rate.  This works to override the “fight-or-flight” stress response and is; therefore, a great way to promote relaxation and de-stress before going to bed.

An evening ritual not only creates a positive habit of self-reflection and gratitude, it promotes longer & better sleep, and improves mental and physical health.

Try this bedtime routine for a week and share your experience in the comments below.

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