How do you usually feel before climbing into bed? Do you feel relaxed, ready to rest, and at ease? Or do you feel anxious and can't seem to leave the day behind you?
If you're like most people, you don’t normally go to bed in a peaceful and relaxed state, but these relaxing bedtime activities will help with that.
Here are 31 relaxing things to do before bed to sleep better and stress less:
1. Mindful Meditation
There are different types of mediation, but mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular methods. You simply give yourself time to observe your thoughts, surroundings, and body without judgment until you feel calmer. Getting distracted is normal, so just continue to bring your attention back to the present moment.
2. Mindful Reading
It goes without saying, but to read for relaxation you’ll want to pick something light-hearted and not something that gives you an adrenaline rush. You can reach for these stress-relieving books that help ease anxiety, these mediation books for learning more about meditation or even illustrated bedtime books for adults.
3. Take a Warm Bath
It's no surprise that taking a warm bath can help you relax, but it also helps you fall asleep faster by lowering your body temperature. Pair your nightly warm bath or shower with some stress-relieving bath products and you'll be feeling completely mellow in no time.
4. Listen to Music
Try listening to some smooth jazz, classical tunes, cafe music, ambient sounds, chillstep, or even slow hip hop and R&B music. Apps like Spotify have curated playlists based on moods and just for relaxing, so there are lots of options when it comes to relaxing music.
5. Stretch Your Body or Do Gentle Yoga
You obviously want to avoid anything that makes you break into a sweat, but there are several stress-relieving yoga poses that are perfect for your relaxing bedtime routine. Something as simple as putting your legs up against your wall or headboard to stretch can relieve tension and improve your mental state for bedtime.
6. Drink a Warm, Soothing Beverage
While you definitely want to avoid consuming too much right before bed to prevent bathroom trips in the middle of the night, a cup or two of stress-relieving teas can make a huge difference in your stress levels and help you sleep better.
There are so many reasons to try journaling, but it’s especially helpful as a relaxation technique thanks to its stress-relieving benefits. You can journal on anything that comes to mind, use a guided journal, or write from journal prompts. It doesn’t really matter as long as it works for you, so try out a few different journaling methods until you find one you enjoy.
8. Listen to Soothing Sounds
Aside from soothing music, you can also listen to soothing sounds like ASMR, sound meditation, nature sounds (like rain or waves), and sleep hypnosis audio recordings to unwind before bed. Each one has its own benefits and some will work better for you than others. Try one or two for a few days and see which ones you like most.
9. Use a Meditation App
If you like the idea of meditation but feel a little lost and want some guidance, a meditation app can be the perfect solution. There are several highly rated mediation apps, but most will offer soothing sounds, guided meditation sessions as audio recordings or videos, deep breathing exercises, and educational content.
10. Practice Guided Imagery
If mindful meditation doesn't seem to relax you, guided imagery might do the trick. With this stress-relieving bedtime activity, you intentionally engage all five senses to calm your mind and ease tension in your body.
To get started with guided imagery, first imagine a peaceful place like a beach or wherever your happy place is. Then think about and focus on the sounds, scents, and other details about this place. Continue to do this until you're relaxed and ready to snooze!
11. Try Something Crafty and Creative
Doing something crafty or creative can calm your anxiety and help you unwind. There are tons of ways to use your creativity, from sketching to crocheting or even cooking. It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it helps you decompress and is something that you enjoy.
12. Eat Sleep-Promoting Snacks
Certain foods can actually help you relax and sleep better, too. Opt for a carbohydrate-rich snack that contains things like magnesium, omega-3 DHA fatty acids, lycopene (an antioxidant compound), and naturally occurring melatonin.
13. Get a Massage
It pretty much goes without saying but getting a massage is hands down one of the best ways to relax and set yourself up for a night of restful sleep. If you don't have anyone to massage you, there are other options like massage pillows or handheld massagers that you can use and benefit from, too.
14. Wind-Down with Puzzles or Crosswords
Puzzles and crosswords aren’t usually thought of as being mindful activities but they're great for bringing your attention to the present moment, so they're especially helpful if you tend to have a racing mind before bed.
15. Set the Right Environment
Making your environment conducive to relaxation and sleep can make all the difference between going to bed feeling unsettled and feeling totally calm the whole night through. Using a glowlight, sound machine, making sure your room is the right temperature, and so forth are some ways you can set your environment up to support your relaxation.
16. Put on a Face or Eye Mask
Face masks are great for your skin and for relaxing. Pick a couple that have calming ingredients like chamomile or lavender then apply it while enjoying a hot bath or good book. If you don’t want to use a face or eye mask, you can simply put a warm cloth on your face, too.
17. Color or Draw
Coloring and drawing for stress relief have a lot of the same benefits as other mindful activities. Either of these calming activities is one of the best ways to relax before bed, and there are tons of fun stress-relieving coloring books for adults to choose from.
18. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (also called PMR) is a relaxation technique where you intentionally tense up a group of muscles in a specific pattern and then release that tension.
With PMR, you typically start from the feet and work your way up. For example, you start by tensing your toes while breathing in for five seconds, then slowly releasing the tension while breathing out through your mouth for 10-20 seconds. Continue this process with your calves, knees, thighs, hands, and so forth. This guide to progressive muscle relaxation explains how to get the most out of this technique.
19. Use a Heating Pad or Heated Blanket
If you can't take a hot bath or just want to keep warm, try relaxing with a heating pad or blanket while you read a book or listen to some mellow music. There are also weighted blankets that are a great choice for ultimate relaxation, too.
20. Hum or Sing
Yes, singing to yourself or humming can be relaxing and surprisingly cathartic! Music is an effective way to release pent-up emotions and stress from the day, especially when it comes from your own words and feelings. Even if you don't consider yourself a musician or singer, try singing or humming along with some soothing music or writing your own song!
21. Write Out Tomorrow’s To-Do List
Writing things down can help ease anxiety and calm your mind, especially when it comes to your long list of to-dos and worries about tomorrow. For this, just jot down everything you need to do tomorrow and remind yourself that your to-do list will get done, but it's not important right now. The point of this is just to get your thoughts on paper so your brain feels less scattered and overwhelmed.
22. Focus On Gratitude
It's easy to feel like you can't relax when you're focused on what's not going right in your life. While it's healthy to pay attention to the good things at any point in the day, it's especially important before bed.
Give your mind a break from the negative thoughts and write down everything you're thankful for. You can also say these things out loud, turn them into affirmations, or even a song. Just figure out which way helps you focus on gratitude, relieves stress and anxious thoughts, and helps you relax.
23. Play Relaxing Games
Another way to relax before bed is to play a game, as long as it's not stimulating or stressful. There are some games and apps that can help relieve anxiety, but you'll want to use blue-light-blocking glasses or play them an hour or more before bed. For screen-free relaxing games, try cards or board games.
Cuddling has a ton of benefits, but it's especially a great way to relax before bed because it encourages the release of oxytocin and decreases stress and anxiety, which helps you relax as well as sleep better. Don’t have someone to cuddle? Use a body pillow instead!
25. Mute Your Phone and Turn Off Electronics
It’s really hard to relax when your notifications are going off and all your electronics are making different noises. Eliminate your distractions by muting or turning off your electronics while you’re trying to unwind and focus on all the other ways to relax before bed.
26. Tidy Up
A clean and tidy environment is more conducive to sleep and for many, cleaning up can be relaxing! Obviously, you don’t want to go into a cleaning frenzy right before bed, but if you can get the visual clutter out of the way and make your environment feel cozier, you’ll feel more relaxed and ready for a night of rest.
27. Prepare for Tomorrow
If you tend to experience anxiety about your morning, preparing for the next day can relieve that stress tremendously. Just doing a couple of essential things like prepping breakfast, laying out your clothes, or pulling a freezer meal out for dinner can help you feel more in control and relaxed.
28. Experiment with Reflexology and Acupressure
There’s a long list of benefits of reflexology and acupressure, from relieving pain, releasing muscle tension, and promoting blood circulation, to reducing insomnia. By applying pressure to certain points in your body you can relieve different symptoms and find ultimate relaxation.
It might sound like something you need to see a professional for but it’s surprisingly easy to benefit from acupressure and reflexology from home with different acupuncture tools.
29. Call or Text Someone Who Eases Your Mind
There are few things that are more comforting than talking to someone who puts your mind at ease. If you have a friend or family member who has a relaxing effect on you, give them a call or text before bed.
30. Try Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is one of the most effective ways to relax before bed and it has even more benefits beyond stress relief. There are different ways to experience aromatherapy, but the most common way is with scented candles and essential oil diffusers. If you're new to aromatherapy, this guide is a great starting point for learning more about it.
31. Practice Meditative Movement
Meditative movement is the combination of gentle movement, intentional breathing, and meditation. There are different ways to practice meditative movement like tai chi and qigong, but they all relieve stress, pain, and tension. Some of the exercises may be better for the daytime, so experiment with them until you find ones that help you relax and sleep better.
There you have it! 31 relaxing things to do before bed to decompress and sleep better! Which will you try first?