The idea of a “bedtime ritual” is actually in line with what sleep experts refer to as “sleep hygiene.” Sleep hygiene encompasses everything you do to support a healthy and uninterrupted night of sleep, from the sheets and blankets that you have on your bed to how you spend your time before turning out the lights. Developing a consistent routine before bed subconsciously reinforces the idea that it’s bedtime and can trigger your body’s natural sleep cycle, help you nod off faster, and stay asleep longer.
You might be thinking: But I have a ritual. I put on my pajamas, brush my teeth, and get into bed around the same time every night. Although that qualifies as a routine, it doesn’t quite meet the definition of a ritual. Rituals, by definition, are ceremonies that involve specific actions performed in a prescribed order and are the same every time. Unlike a routine, which you more or less follow each night, a ritual is a more sacred and meaningful process. A sleep ritual not only prepares your mind and body for bed, but also gives you the chance to spend some time focused on your own emotional well-being.
The key to a successful ritual is that it needs to be specific. Saying, “I want to be in bed by 11 p.m.” is not the same as saying, “I will be in bed and ready for sleep at 11 p.m.” For the best results, work backward from your chosen bedtime and designate the specific activities you will do—and in which order—to get ready for bed. And while general hygiene tasks (such as brushing your teeth, showering, getting into your PJs) are certainly a valid part of your ritual, incorporating specific relaxation techniques to prepare your body and mind for sleep is also important.
Proven Rituals to Help You Sleep