How to Find Peaceful Relaxation at Bedtime
The day may be hectic and stressful, but the night can be different.
At the end of each day, you can experience an atmosphere that offers stress relief and peaceful relaxation. You do not have to retire at bedtime weighed down with the burdens of the passing day. Plus, you can wake up with the energy you need to manage the new day.
Below is a sample list of ten suggestions to help you achieve peaceful relaxation at bedtime.
Try various combinations at first. The more you implement what works for you, the more effective it will become.
(1) Early Dinner
The recommendation1 for dinner time is at least two hours before bedtime; so first decide your bedtime hour and calculate the right time for dinner accordingly.
Remember that you are aiming for relaxation. Leave the phones and other media gadgets away from the table, and enjoy your food. Bedtime in two hours gives you enough time to move around after dinner (clean up the kitchen) and answer a few calls. It also removes the need to eat again, so both you and your stomach could relax.
(2) Warm Bath
Here is something you may not have heard about a warm bath and relaxation. It does not work if you go straight to bed afterward. Corrie Pikul, on-line health editor2 explains that a hot bath causes your temperature to rise and then cool down. It is the cooling down that helps you relax; but if you get into bed too soon, your temperature stays elevated. You need an hour between bath time and bedtime. So time yourself in the bubble baths and oils for the best relaxation benefits.
You were too busy during the day to give due attention to all the thoughts that entered your mind. Some are likely to surface again when you sit down. Figure out the ones you can: for example, admit to what you could have done differently, forgive someone who provoked you; pat yourself on the back for something you did right. Jot down the thoughts you want to consider later; your mind will be satisfied that you listed them. Make room for thoughts of peace and contentment.
You feel more relaxed when you are organized and you have de-stressed the known situations which could threaten your peace.
You may want to think ahead. Jot down the assignments which you intend to tackle the next day. Things seem more manageable when you see them on paper. Don’t begin them, just scribble any ideas which come to mind and then put your scribbling away.
Instead of worrying about what might present a problem, pray about it and express your expectation of divine help. Already you will feel happy about being in control.
This is cuddling during the relaxation time before sleep time, not during sleep time. The research3 shows that gentle touching—holding hands, massaging, hugging etc.—makes you less anxious, happier and healthier. Blood pressure lowers; muscles relax; heart rate slows; levels of the stress hormone cortisol decrease, and the flow of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone increases. Cuddling with a child, a pet dog or cat produces similar results.
(6) Early Bedtime
Scientist agree that the ideal bedtime begins somewhere between 10:00 p.m. and midnight. If you are searching for peaceful relaxation, the earlier you retire the better. After a full day’s work, staying up late can mean that your capacity for reasoning, problem-solving and good judgment is diminished4. You may create problems for the next day, and retire frustrated. On the other hand, putting your need for relaxation above your desire to get everything done will feed your sense of self-control and save you some additional work and worry.
(7) Blank Television
You may fall asleep tired with the television watching you, and chances are you will wake up still tired.
Television watching can rob you of true relaxation because the light stimulates the brains and suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy5.
In addition to the light, there is the matter of content. How does the subject matter lend to your relaxation? Even if you consider the story line peaceful, you still have to deal with the advertisements.
Better to listen to some relaxing music or to a soothing voice reading on an audio book.
(8) Gratitude Journal
The gratitude journal is also a good alternative for watching television in bed. This is a fairly easy habit to cultivate. Keep your writing tools on your nightstand, and as you get in bed, reach for it and begin to scrabble three or five (your decision) blessings that you experienced during the day. Chances are that you will find yourself smiling as you write. Don’t forget that some setbacks are also blessings. You will smile even more when you realize how adverse situations no longer threaten your peace.
Poll on Relaxation Suggestions
If you could only implement one of the following to help you relax, which would it be?
(9) Dark Room
The dark room lends to the peaceful atmosphere as you lie in bed. Pull the blinds or draw the curtains to block out the street lights. Cover the light displays from electronic devices like the cell phone, the iPad, and whatever else may be charging. Or, cover your eyes with a sleep mask. Night lights spoil the ambiance. If you cannot reach the light switch when you wake up during the night, keep a flashlight handy.
(10) Meditation and Prayer
Meditate for a few minutes in the peaceful quiet of your room. Exhale whatever residue of stress still remain, and count your blessings.
Lift your heart, and soul and mind in a conscious prayer of gratitude. “Conscious” because the struggles of the day cause many people to live in an attitude of prayer—reflexively calling on God for help, and perhaps remembering to express thanks. That is spiritually healthy; but it may also be the reason that some consider a bedtime prayer unnecessary—been praying all day.
However, when that mood of peaceful relaxation is finally realized, a conscious prayer of thanks for the blessings of the day is most appropriate. We get more benefit from the gifts for which are grateful.
1. Layne, Amy: Damy Health. Eating Before Bed – What to Avoid, (Copyright DAMY Health 2009-2014)
2. Pikul, Corrie: Oprah, Health and Wellness, 5 Things Never to Do Right Before Bed, (06/26/2013)
3. Dworkin Mc-Daniel, Norine: CNN Health, Health.com, Touching Makes You Healthier, (01/05/2011)
4. CoretanDigital: My World My Life, Disadvantages of Sleep Deprivation (04/10/2011)
5. Smith, M.A., Melinda et al: HelpGuide.org, How to Sleep Better, (04/2014)
© 2014 Dora Weithers