It’s when the sky darkens and the hustle of the city slows down that the night ritual begins. An effective night ritual cultivates a grounded, calm energy and environment to prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
My own night ritual is something that has gone through a lot of change over the years. I think the reason for this is that my lifestyle has changed considerably. From working in a corporate office to moving overseas and becoming a student of Japanese to working for myself full-time at home.
I went through months where I tried to do too many rituals and it just left me feeling anything but grounded and calm before bed. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I also had long stints where I worked myself to the extremes, where I had felt so disconnected from myself that rituals were the last thing on my mind as I drifted off to sleep in bed with my laptop open.
I'm happy to report that the last few years have been rather uneventful when it comes to working late nights. I have made little positive habit shifts towards finding a night ritual that feels more sustainable, easy and balanced.
Today, I would love to share with you some of the things you can do to create a mindful night ritual. Mix and match from the following list, add in some of your favourite things to do, keep things simple and make it your own.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I love tea. My favourite tea to help me get ready for sleep is a blend of peppermint and camomile. Camomile is gentle and relaxing while peppermint is refreshing and soothing for the stomach and helps with digestion. Perhaps you might take a liking to only one of the above two teas. Or perhaps, a different blend altogether. I find that any warming tea that has lavender, camomile, fennel or turmeric can help us wind down and it will do wonders for your night routine.
An aroma diffuser can be the perfect addition to your night routine. Infusing essential oils during your night routine can be the perfect relaxation ritual. I love a blend like Aesop's Catherine oil blend; spicy, warm, and comforting. On the other hand, something as fresh fragrant of lavender or jasmine on a warm summer's evening can help set the mood. When it comes to candles, try a soy-based candle with a gentle, subtle fragrance. A personal favourite of mine is BlackMILK's candles - I love that these candles have a wooden wick, which recreates the crackling sound of a fire, adding a particularly satisfying backdrop to your evening.
As business owners, it can be difficult to switch off our thoughts at night. I tend to get a burst of energy, clarity and creativity in the evenings. This means that it can take me a while to feel like my mind is ready for sleep. This is why meditation or even chanting can be supportive to still the thoughts. Meditation can be practised in various ways. So experiment with different styles to find something that resonates with you. Spend a few minutes in quiet and stillness each night.
Try being mindfully observant of your thoughts, emotions and the environment around you. You can do this even when brushing your teeth, putting on your pyjamas or sipping your tea. Or try closing your eyes and sit in a comfortable position. Focus on your breath just for a few moments and find a sense of flow. Notice how deepening your breath can change how you feel in your body. Keep your eyes closed and listen to whatever arises without judgement to your thoughts.
Yoga helps bring fresh oxygen into our bodies and the below poses where the heart is lower than the head are good for releasing stress and tension. All while finding balance. You can relax by stretching in the child's pose, plow pose or shoulder stand. If you’re not sure of how to go about it, find helpful tips in our podcast episode all about rest. If you have the time, try a late-night yin yoga class or a Nidra (sleep) yoga class to stretch and release any tension from your muscles to prepare your body for deep rest.
Temperature is more important to sleep than you think. Personally, I like to reach straight for my hot water bottle on wintery nights. I like to place it on my bed to warm it up as I move about the house, getting ready for bed. The heat from this is so soothing and puts me straight to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. A warm wheat pillow with a few drops of lavender oil to enhance relaxation is also a great addition to this ritual.
Journalling is wonderful for emptying out all our thoughts and worries from the day that have been consuming our energy and attention. Think of it like a detox for your mind. Use it reflect on your day or to let go of any thoughts you are holding onto. I also love including a prompt for the three things I am grateful for in my journal entries - learn to notice the little things that may be so easy to miss during the busy-ness of your day. Try The Intuition Journal or see our Etsy shop for contemplative templates to help you wind down.
Diving into a book can help you release the worries of the day. I dedicate about 20 minutes each night to reading. I accept that I am a terribly slow reader so I often sit with a book for a long time before I finish it. For me, I love just savouring a good book.
I’m sure you have found yourself on one too many mindless scrolls before bed. Your device is not just a big distraction - the blue light emanating from it suppresses melatonin, a hormone that’s super important for sleep. It’s so easy to get carried away so I recommend making a conscious effort to switch off your devices before starting your night routine. I personally try to switch off my computer and my phone by 9.30 pm.
We can get dehydrated during the night as we lose moisture through sweat, so remember to hydrate your skin with a rich moisturising serum or oil. Find one that contains Vitamin E to help with skin repair. If you have the time, go the extra step and do a light face mask as well.
While I’ve included a few tips you can try and experiment with, remember that it really depends on what your body is telling you. Pick a few things from this list each night that you want to do and savour the time you have before you go to bed. A night routine isn’t just a night routine. It’s a dedicated practice in self-care. One that involves being mindful and intentional about how you end your day.