We're grownups. We don't need a bedtime story with Mom to help us fall asleep, right? Not so fast. There's a reason parents for generations have been creating nightly bedtime rituals. Sleep is essential for a healthy body, high functioning mind and the energy to take on the day. Here are some healthy bedtime habits to help you prepare for a good night's sleep.
Give yourself an hour to really get ready for bed. Establishing a consistent nightly ritual will give your body and mind the heads up that it's time to wind down. With the constant barrage of stimuli coming at us all day, we need time to disconnect. A cup of calming tea, diffusing essential oils like lavender, ylang ylang or sandalwood, and listening to soothing music can help.
Count reps, not sheep
Working out can help you fall asleep faster and get more rest. According to the National Sleep Foundation, as little as 10 minutes of regular aerobic exercise, like walking or cycling, can significantly improve the quality of your sleep. Get your strenuous exercise in during the day if you find it interferes with falling asleep. Opt for simple stretching and yoga poses before bed to help you unwind.
Visualize your zzz's
According to the Dalai Lama, "Sleep is the best meditation." As you prepare for sleep, try visualizing the stress and worry and energy of the day leaving your body. If you're worried about a particular issue, imagine yourself writing it down and shutting it away in a drawer to be dealt with later. Then picture yourself as you'll look the next morning after a good night's sleep--rested, happy, healthy and full of energy.
Avoid sleep saboteurs
There are several things that should not be part of your bedtime routine. Checking work email, caffeine, watching television shows like Game of Thrones, and reading mystery novels will not help you relax. Are you using your phone as an alarm clock? It might be time to rethink that as it's just too tempting to check email or Facebook when it's sitting on your night stand.
Always kiss me goodnight
Make sure your nightly ritual includes something sweet. It can be a last cuddle with a pet, a good night call to the family if you're away, or a smooch from your spouse. If you can't exchange a good night kiss or hug in person, a symbolic kiss blown to a loved one far away works, too.
Establishing a nightly bedtime ritual can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and improve the quality of your zzz's. It doesn't have to be elaborate, just consistent. Here's to a good night's sleep!
Judi Sheppard Missett created the original dance party workout and started the fitness revolution that became Jazzercise. Today -- more than 45 years later -- Jazzercise is one of the world's leading dance fitness companies, offering a program that continually evolves with new beats, new moves and new classes. As Founder and CEO of Jazzercise, Judi Sheppard Missett leads a team of more than 8,300 franchisees teaching 32,000+ classes each week around the world. Jazzercise is a pulse-pounding, bass-dropping fitness program that gets results...fast. Customers can incinerate up to 800 calories in one 60 minute workout and choose from a variety of classes including Fusion, Core, Strike, Strength and Dance Mixx. For more information, visit jazzercise.com.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more