11 Soothing Pre-Sleep Habits for a Restful Night and Productive Next Morning Copy

If you know you need more sleep—or better sleep—and aren’t quite sure how to make it happen, it’s time to talk about pre-sleep habits that might help. Busy schedules and busy brains cut into precious sleep time, whether it’s a conscious decision or not, which is why so many of us have had to sit down and make a plan for how we’re going to get more sleep. A lot of it comes down to pre-sleep habits we can incorporate at night for high-quality rest (and a productive morning the next day as a great bonus). 
“Variability is the enemy of sleep,” Ravi S. Aysola, M.D., assistant clinical professor of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at UCLA, tells SELF. Having a routine based on good sleep hygiene—a set of best practices to promote good sleep—can help you teach your body and brain to recognize when it’s time to conk out. 

Sleep is driven in part by biological changes, says Cathy Anne Goldstein, M.D., clinical associate professor of sleep medicine at University of Michigan Medicine. Those include mechanisms like your level of the sleep-related hormone melatonin increasing as daylight goes down and your core body temperature lowering as you prepare for sleep. But sleep is also driven by the behaviors that condition us to get sleepy or stay alert. “Humans are very conditioned individuals,” Dr. Goldstein tells SELF. “If we set a bedtime routine, that’s going to help us from that conditioning standpoint.”

One of the biggest problems people have is shutting off their attention at bedtime, Dr. Aysola says. “Our brains are constantly going, and we’re not like a light switch; you need some time to decompress to allow sleep to happen.” That means finding activities or rituals that help you feel calm and relaxed and making them a part of your nighttime routine. To help you out, below are some good nighttime, pre-sleep habits that may help you fall asleep faster and get a solid night of quality rest.
1. Give meditation a try if you haven’t already.
Okay, yes, you may have heard this tip quite a few times already. But meditation is by far the tactic most people we spoke to credited with helping them fall asleep more quickly and sleep better, so it deserves the top spot on this list. Abbey T., 31, often listens to a guided meditation on the Headspace app in bed. “I notice a difference in being able to fall asleep quickly, but I also stay asleep better when I follow my routine,” she tells SELF. 

Dr. Goldstein recommends practicing meditation daily and using it as part of your wind-down routine to help relax and calm your mind. You can also use it as a tool if you wake up in the middle of the night and need to fall back asleep. Using a guided meditation app to help is great, but practicing enough to be able to do it on your own is also a really good idea if you think you might need it in a pinch at 3 a.m.