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Our sleep is governed by our circadian rhythm – an inbuilt clock that signals the production of hormones that both wake us up in the morning and get us ready for bedtime. Historically, our circadian rhythm was aligned with the rising and setting of the sun. These days we have bright lights we can switch on to keep the dark at bay. This can disrupt our circadian rhythm. As a result, there are many people who find that, as tired as their bodies may be, sleep still manages to elude them.

Most parents will have a night-time routine to help their children transition to sleep. Yet sleep rituals can be highly beneficial for adults too. Our circadian rhythm responds well to routine and habitual rituals can help signal to the body to begin producing more of your sleep hormone melatonin.

Here are seven sleep rituals you can try in the evening to help you wind down after your day and promote a good night’s sleep.

1. Have a ‘night-time’ setting for your home

When you get home from work or as the sun begins to set, go around the house and transition it to ‘night-time’ mode. Turn on only soft, warm lights or lamps, light some candles, play some gentle music and perhaps even diffuse some relaxing essential oils. Choose whatever feels most soothing and calming for you. Make the process of walking around to set up each element a ritual in itself.

Evening Setting - PureComfort

2. Soak in a warm bath

Baths are unquestionably relaxing and having a bath each evening before bed can be a wonderful sleep ritual. Light some candles, play some relaxing music and pour some Epsom salts into the bath. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium which is a mineral that helps your muscles relax and eases stress in the body.

Evening rituals, a warm bath

3. Drink a cup of herbal tea

There are numerous herbs and plants known for their calming properties and drinking a cup of herbal tea can help to promote relaxation. Chamomile, lemon balm, valerian root, passionflower, lavender and oat flower are wonderfully soothing herbs. Tulsi and ashwagandha are wonderful adaptogens (plants that modulate the body’s stress response) that blend beautifully with the above herbs to provide an extra boost of calm. Check out the selection in your local supermarket or health food store and try a few different ones to find the one you like.

4. Read a book

While it can be tempting to tune out in front of the television after a long day, the blue light that is emitted from this backlit electronic device can interfere with melatonin production. Many people find that reading a book in bed can help increase their sleepiness and prepare their body for sleep. Or you may prefer to listen to an audiobook which you can drift off to sleep to with the lights off.

5. Stretch

We tend to tighten up throughout the day, especially if we sit in front of a computer for long hours. A stretching routine in the evening can help to promote relaxation in the body and prepare you for sleep. You may like to do a gentle yoga flow or simply stretch any muscles that feel tight each evening before bed. You may find you sleep more restfully with more supple muscles.

Woman stretching in the evening before bed

6. Deep breathing

Your sleep is directly tied to your nervous system and the fastest way to calm your nervous system down is to breathe slowly and deeply into your diaphragm. When we are stressed, it changes our breathing pattern to short, sharp and shallow. Intentionally slowing your breath down and taking it as deep as you can will signal to your body that you are safe and this will help to switch off your stress response. Try breathing in and out to the count of five. As you get more comfortable with this, try extending out to the count of eight or ten. Your diaphragm, which is located at the bottom of your ribcage, should expand when you inhale and contract when you exhale.

7. Take a relaxing evening stroll

If you find it difficult to leave work in the office, taking a gentle stroll when you get home can be a wonderful transition. Whether it is in a local park, down at the beach or meandering through the streets of your suburb, take the time to attune your awareness to the world around you. Pay attention to what you can see, smell and hear as you walk. If you feel your mind wandering back to running over your day and all the things you have left to do, gently bring it back to the present moment and refocus on what’s in front of you.

Take an evening stroll to help you sleep well