Tell me something real quick. Do you have a bedtime routine? I don't mean do you wash your face and brush your teeth before retiring for the night. I'm thinking that, for most of us, that's a given. What I mean is do you treat getting ready for sleep as something special? Because, after all, every time you put your head on your pillow, the next 6-8 (or more) hours are going to help refuel and rejuvenate you for the day that lies ahead.
That's why I personally believe that creating a bedtime routine is a true act of self-care. If you agree but you've never really gotten around to putting an "official" plan together, here are 12 tips that you can either take literally or use as a guideline — things that can make getting ready for bed fun to do and your quality of sleep so much better for you.
1. “Dress Up.” For Yourself.
OK, so here's what I mean by this. While it actually is best to go to bed with absolutely nothing on at all (check out "Yes, Sleeping Naked Could Help Your Anxiety & Sleep Pattern"), if, for whatever the reason you're not comfortable doing that, please avoid a ratty T-shirt or pajamas that you've had since you just got out of college. Y'all, if you're doing this sleep thing right, you'll be in your bed for at least 6-8 hours, so why not treat your body to some sleepwear that is cute and comfortable? Just make sure that whatever you go with that it is made out of a breathable fabric (so that your skin can breathe). I mean, you invest in clothes for every other occasion, right? Why should what you will spend one-third of your entire life in look like a hot ass mess? By the way, the blog Shop with Leslie actually has a list of pajamas and loungewear brands that you can purchase from Black-owned companies. You can check it out here.
2. Treat Yourself to a Nighttime Snack
While it's a pretty common rule that you shouldn't eat 2-3 hours before turning in (so that your body can digest your food, so that you can fall and stay asleep easier), I'm pretty sure you know your system and what it can and can't handle around bedtime. If you happen to be someone who craves a bit of a snack, some foods that can actually help you to sleep better include figs (the magnesium in them can calm your nerves and increase your sleep time); sweet potatoes (the potassium, magnesium and calcium in them can relax you — sweet potato fries, anyone?); oatmeal (it's a natural source of melatonin); popcorn (it's a whole grain that has carbs that help to make tryptophan in your system); almonds (they're another good source of melatonin); watermelon (the choline in it will help you to remain asleep); pineapple (the properties in it will help to boost your melatonin levels); yogurt (the properties in it make falling asleep easier to do); salmon (the vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in it will increase your serotonin levels), and dark chocolate (it's also loaded with magnesium and we already discussed what it can do).
If you want something to wash all of this down with, some warm oat milk, some tart cherry juice (which is also a good source of melatonin) or some chamomile tea (which is a natural relaxant) will all hit the right spot.
3. Spray Your Pillows with a Sleep-Inducing Essential Oil
If you're like me and you enjoy lighting a couple of scented candles around bedtime yet you're afraid that you might fall asleep and forget to blow them out, how about spraying your pillows with an essential oil that is proven to help you get a good night's rest instead? Some of my favorites include lavender (it lowers your blood pressure and relaxes you); peppermint (it's awesome if you struggle with seasonal allergies or you're sensitive to dust and you're looking for a way to not sneeze all night long); sandalwood (it contains mood-stabilizing properties that can help to calm your mind and nerves); marjoram (it has a great reputation for physically and mentally inducing feelings of tranquility), and ylang-ylang (it's great at lowering your blood pressure and heart rate).
Just put 10-12 drops in a small bottle of distilled water and spray your pillows about an hour before turning in. Trust me, it's divine.
4. Make Sure You’ve Got a Leg Elevation Pillow
If you're looking for a way to stimulate blood circulation, reduce body swelling, and/or soothe back or leg pain, a leg elevation pillow is totally what you need. The reality is that around 70 million Americans have some sort of struggle with falling or staying asleep. Since the fetal position, being on your side or lying on your back (did you know that only eight percent of us do this?) are the best sleep positions, it's pretty easy to get your legs into a position where you can get the most out of this kind of pillow. Anyway, Prevention did a feature on some of the best ones that are currently on the market. You can check it out here.
5. Do Some Stretches
Speaking of increasing blood flow, when was the last time that you took out at least five minutes to do some stretching before turning in? Not only is it a great way to stimulate blood circulation, but it also can help to significantly reduce muscle tension too. You can check out a video that features some pretty easy bed-related stretches here.
6. Play Some Nature Sounds
Personally, when it comes to what I like to hear while I'm sleeping, it's either silence or the sound of rain. Since I've been incorporating ASMR into my sleep routine, I feel so much more refreshed when I wake up in the morning. The reason why nature sounds are a good sleep agent is that your brain is able to process sounds like rain, wind, ocean waves, birds, and thunderstorms as being non-threatening. This, in turn, decreases its natural flight-or-flight response and helps your mind to relax so much better.
How cool is that?
7. Pamper Your Lips
I don't know about y'all but something that actually will wake me up in the middle of the night are dry lips. Like they will literally annoy the crap outta me. That's why I've gotten into the habit of applying some shea butter onto them before turning in. The properties in shea butter instantly help to soothe my lips so that when I wake up, they still feel soft and moisturized. If you're not sleeping alone, add a bit of honey to your butter. Chile, just trust me on that. #wink
8. Give Yourself a Head Massage
Another really effective way to reduce stress and tension is to give yourself a quick 5-7 minute head massage. This is especially beneficial if you're attempting to go to sleep when you have a bit of a headache or you're really worried about something because the increased blood flow can help to decrease discomfort and relax you. Just make sure to especially focus on your temples (they protect an artery known as the meningeal artery which supplies blood to the outer covering of your brain) and that you apply a little bit of lavender oil (mixed with a carrier oil like sweet almond or grapeseed; straight lavender can "burn" super sensitive skin) to really penetrate your head and make you feel so much better.
9. Write Down Something You Did That Day That You Are Proud Of
Just a few more steps. Now that you're feeling more tranquil and serene, pull out your journal and write down something that you accomplished throughout the day that you're super proud of. Be as specific as possible (including the time of day that "it" happened). This can help you to fall asleep on a positive note which is always a plus when you're looking to get a good night's rest. Also, since you're documenting these kinds of moments, it can be something truly wonderful to reflect on every 3, 6, or 12 months.
10. Have a Mini “Burning Ceremony”
If the last thing that you like to do is brush your teeth before getting into your bed for good, before walking in there, pull out a sheet of paper and quickly jot down something that you need to release from the day too. Going to bed with burdens on your mind can hinder sleep and also cause you to wake up on the wrong side of the bed if you're not careful. So, whatever it is that causes you to low-key cringe when you reflect back on it, put that on the paper, stand over your sink, flick your lighter, and burn it. It's symbolic of letting the day go and preparing for what lies ahead.
11. Devote 30 Minutes to a Book or Podcast
Quality time with yourself is super important. So, definitely make sure that you make the time to be able to read a chapter of a book or listen to at least part of an episode of your favorite podcast. You know, if there's one thing that nighttime should be seen as, it's when you can pamper yourself by doing something that you really enjoy — something that your hectic daytime schedule hinders you from partaking in. Besides, reading is another proven way to cultivate a great sleeping environment and there is also scientific evidence that podcasts (so long as they aren't super "deep") can help you to sleep better as well.
12. Establish a Set Bedtime
I think it's crazy that folks totally get why children should be on a sleep schedule and yet they don't make the connection on why they should have one too. Going to bed around the same time every night supports your inner clock getting into a set routine which can also make sleeping easier. Everything that I just mentioned, you should be able to do within an hour. So, try and be intentional about going to bed around the same time each and every night (at least throughout the week). It will make easing out of bed and into the next day's schedule more than just bearable. Watch out and it could almost be a pleasure, chile.
Featured image by Getty Images
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
If there’s one part of the face that seems to be the most vexing to correct, it’s the under eyes.
This delicate area has a way of being tipped off by our irregular sleep patterns, stress, and the straining that comes from our computers and phone screens. From puffiness to dark circles, it can be irksome to find the right products to soothe our under-eye concerns. Thankfully, there’s one solution that delivers a brighter and more awakened look over time, and that’s under-eye masks and eye patches.
Eye patches are giving our under-eye bags an eviction notice because they can’t hang our glowing faces rent-free. The beauty of these patches is that they are designed to bring your eyes targeted results through concentrated doses of active ingredients directly to the skin under the eyes. Typically made of thin, gel-like material and infused with ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, caffeine, and even green teas, these small but mighty patches depuff your puffiness, brighten your dark circles, or tighten fine lines.
While every under-eye differs in its needs, every eye can benefit from an under-eye mask or patch that suits its concerns. And to help, we’ve put together the best under-eye patches to hydrate, soothe, and brighten your eyes.
The KNC Beauty All Natural Retinol Infused Eye Mask, 5-Pack, is a retinol-infused, all-natural product designed to rejuvenate your eyes. It promises to provide hydration, smoothness, reduced puffiness, and brightness without the use of chemicals. With ingredients like retinol to refine skin texture and stimulate blood flow and aloe to soothe and reduce redness, it's like getting 8 hours of beauty sleep for your eyes.
These cooling hydrogel under-eye masks from Topicals promise to fade the appearance of dark circles and discoloration in just 15 minutes. The set includes six masks and offers benefits that brighten, hydrate, depuff, and cool your under-eye area.
Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Brightening Hydra-Gel Eye Patches
Grab these eye contour gel patches to brighten the eye area and combat signs of aging using a powerful form of vitamin C called THD Ascorbate, which is 50 times more potent than traditional vitamin C.
BeautyBio's Bright Eyes consists of 15 colloidal silver-infused eye gel patches designed to provide instant depuffing, brightening, and revitalization to the delicate eye area within 10 minutes. They also contain natural collagen to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, which we love.
These viral hydrogel masks offer moisture and nourishment to rejuvenate tired-looking skin. Their Snail Secretion Filtrate contains "Mucin," an effective moisturizing ingredient that soothes damaged skin and delivers deep hydration, making it suitable for dehydrated and damaged skin types. Your under-eyes will thank you.
Try these caffeine-infused patches to reduce puffiness in the under-eye area. The product features clean, vegan ingredients such as caffeine, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid for deep hydration and moisture delivery.
The Forever Eye Mask is designed to be the “last eye mask you'll ever need.” This thin, lightweight, and reusable eye patch can hold gels, serums, and creams close to the skin for better absorption, helping your skincare products work more effectively.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by blackCAT/Getty Images