Many of us struggle to quiet our racing thoughts, making it challenging to relax into a deep, restorative sleep. Practicing mindfulness through soothing evening rituals can help pave the way for better sleep.

Understanding Mindfulness

Mindfulness means focusing our attention on the present moment with openness, curiosity, and non-judgment. This state of grounded awareness allows us to perceive our thoughts and feelings more objectively. At bedtime, mindfulness helps us disengage from the worries of yesterday and tomorrow so we can fully surrender to sleep.

Some research indicates that mindfulness meditation helps improve multiple sleep issues including falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, and feeling more well-rested in the morning.1

Preparing Your Sleep Sanctuary

Our bedroom environment impacts how we sleep, so the first step in creating mindful sleep rituals is setting up a space devoted solely to rest. Make your room cool, quiet, and dark. Remove any clutter or electronics that could cause distraction. Consider using blackout curtains, a white noise machine, and even an eye mask.

You can also infuse your sleep sanctuary with relaxing scents using essential oils like lavender, chamomile, and bergamot. The soothing effects of aromatherapy promote deeper, more restorative rest. Diffuse oils before bed or place a few drops onto your pillowcase.

Soothing Evening Practices

A relaxing pre-bedtime routine helps transition both the mind and body into rest mode for improved sleep quality. Incorporate centering activities that turn on the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for resting and digesting. As you stimulate the relaxation response, your physiology gradually powers down for the night ahead.

Gentle Yoga Poses

A brief, gentle yoga flow stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to begin relaxing. Simple poses like cat cows, child’s pose, legs up the wall, and reclining twists tell your body it is time to unwind.

Move slowly as you focus on full, easeful breaths rather than achieving the perfect posture. However, be mindful not to overexert yourself too close to bedtime. The key is to keep the practice tranquil. If you feel energized instead of relaxed after yoga, you may wish to try a different routine.

Meditative Breathing

Breathwork is another way to activate the body’s built-in relaxation pathways for better sleep. Try counting each inhale and exhale up to five, repeating for several minutes to calm your mind and relax your body. Imagine your breath flowing in and out like waves gently lapping the shoreline.

As you maintain awareness of each rise and fall of your chest and belly, distracting thoughts naturally fade to the background. Alternatively, visualize your breath moving through your body to cleanse tension as you exhale.

Take an Epsom Salt Bath

Draw a warm Epsom salt bath an hour or two before your target bedtime to soak away the residue from your day. As you recline in the velvety water, deliberately relax and release any lingering tightness in your muscles.

The magnesium in Epsom salts gets absorbed through your skin to facilitate muscle relaxation while the bath’s warmth dilates blood vessels to promote circulation.2 To enhance the soothing atmosphere, play soft music or nature soundscapes. Notice how your body feels immersed weightlessly while you mindfully scrub off the day.

Mindful Eating

What and when we eat impacts our sleep cycles. To prevent indigestion, heartburn, and middle of the night bathroom trips, eat dinner early and keep it light. Avoid inflammatory foods like refined carbs and sugars as well as stimulants found in coffee, chocolate, and alcohol.

On the flip side, foods rich in tryptophan like dairy, nuts, seeds, bananas, and chamomile tea contain compounds that boost serotonin and melatonin production for better sleep regulation. Sip a warm, soothing cup about an hour before bed after practicing one of the aforementioned rituals.

Clear Your Mind With Journaling

Jotting thoughts onto paper provides an emotional brain dump to prevent worries from swirling as you lie in bed. Review the day’s events and capture anything on your mind – things you’re grateful for, what you accomplished, current concerns, ideas you want to revisit tomorrow. This practice brings closure to your day so you can fully surrender to a peaceful night’s rest.

Digital Detox

Artificial blue light from phones, tablets, and other electronics suppresses melatonin and overstimulates our brains late into the evening.

Make it a habit to put all devices into nightshift mode at least an hour before bedtime. Better yet, avoid digital temptations altogether. Opt to read, stretch, meditate or engage in other tranquil activities before lights out instead.

Craft Your Personalized Sleep Routine

Experiment with different mindfulness techniques to discover what helps you relax and prepare for sleep. Customize it to your needs and preferences. Most importantly, let this special time become a cue that reminds your body and mind to start powering down.

A simple plan for your evening routine could look something like this:

8:00 PM: Dim the lights and turn off digital devices.

8:15 PM: Prepare a cup of herbal tea.

8:30 PM: Spend some time journaling or reading.

9:00 PM: Do a gentle yoga routine followed by a breathing exercise.

9:30 PM: Get into bed and meditate or visualize peaceful scenarios.

Remember, this is just a template. Adjust the times and activities according to what helps you relax and prepare for sleep.

In Summary

Simple yet strategic mindful rituals in the evening prime us for blissful nights of deep, restorative sleep. First set up your sleep environment by making sure it’s cool, quiet, clean and cozy. Next engage in relaxing practices – breathe deeply, gently stretch, take an Epsom salt bath, enjoy a light, tryptophan-rich meal.

Finally, dump any mental clutter through journaling and avoid electronics that overstimulate the brain. Repeat nightly before lights out so your customized sleep routine becomes a welcome ritual that tells your body it’s time for rest.

Over time these mindful habits pave the way for falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer and waking up refreshed.

  1. Rusch, H. L., Del Rosario, M., Levison, L. M., Olivera, A., Livingston, W. S., Wu, T., & Gill, J. (2018). The effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1445(1), 5–16.
  2. Garrison, S., Allan, G. M., Sekhon, R. K., Musini, V. M., & Khan, K. M. (2012). Magnesium for skeletal muscle cramps. The Cochrane Library.