When you have kids, you know you need to get them to calm as bedtime approaches. But we place less emphasis on wind down activities for adults. Which is too bad. We adults need them just like the little guys do.
So today I’m talking about wind down activities for those of us who get to choose our own bedtime. Those of us who might be pushing ourselves from the time the morning alarm rings until the last dinner dish has dried. Those of us who might be getting less than quality down-time.
You might be grown, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore childhood lessons. It’s really important to ready yourself for sleep. So let’s talk about wind down activities that are perfect for adults.
Dim the Lights
Light signals to our brains that it’s daytime. Think back to how our ancestors lived. Once the sun set, things were dark. And they often very naturally fell to sleep.
Not the case for those living today. We can have light 24 hours a day. But then our brain disconnects from the primitive impulse to prepare for sleep. So dimming the lights in the hour or two before bed is one of those perfect wind down activities.
Many of us will end the evening by scrolling social media. This can bring up an array of thoughts and emotions. Instead, use this time to quietly journal.
You can fill your brain with stimulating ideas before bed. Or you’ll let them go by putting them to paper. Guess which one will lead to better quality sleep?
You can often calm your kids by getting them to color. Well, that works for you too. The act of coloring gets your mind out of planning and worrying and gets it to focus and relax.
There are tons of adult coloring books from which to choose. Find one you like, and start coloring. You’ll find it a beneficially calming nighttime activity.
Play Meditation Music
I could tell you to meditate. But you might think it’s not for you. That’s a practice that takes time to develop. But playing meditation music is calming on its own. I mean, logic would dictate that it was created to be calming.
Not sure where to start. Most music apps have meditation playlists or stations. Music can help calm you and ease you into a peaceful state.
Drink Calming Teas
Many people feel that alcohol helps them get ready for sleep. But alcohol is one of those wind down activities that ultimately has negative consequences for sleep. It helps you fall asleep, but will lead to restless sleep.
Teas like lavender, chamomile, and passionflower will help you get into a natural place of calm. Just don’t drink too much. You don’t want to have to take a bathroom break at 3 am.
Many of us wake up stiff and sore. Stretching or restorative yoga moves are perfect for physically getting in a good place for sleep. They’re calming, and they can help with restful sleep by helping you open up tension and relax.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt is actually a form of magnesium. And magnesium is integral for relaxation. That’s why Epsom salt baths are great for sore muscles. It helps them release tension.
But Epsom salt is good for emotional stress too. It helps you let go. So an Epsom salt bath as bedtime approaches is a great way to relax.
Knitting is one of those great wind down activities because it can be relatively repetitive. Therefore, it doesn’t necessarily require a lot of brain power.
Keep in mind, you probably don’t want to do one of those super complicated patterns. Stay in your comfort zone. Otherwise, you’ll lose all the calming benefits.
Listen to a Podcast
Many podcasts fall into the category of inspirational, calming, or educational. These can be good for winding down since they focus your mind away from the day’s activities and onto a not too stimulating subject. Bonus points if you listen in a dimly lit room (or with the lights off)
Of course, you don’t want to listen to something that’s going to bring up big emotions. And stay away from ones where the podcaster is prone to shouting, or other things that might be stimulating. Nice and easy is the way to go.
So those are some wind down activities for adults. You probably do this with your kids or when you were a kid. Now it’s time to do them for you. Which of these wind down activities do you think would work best for you?
RoseMary Griffith says
I have been a poor sleeper from day one. Yes, my mother loved me for it. I think, given how my brain works, I always thought I would miss something if I nodded off. Aargh to that! I try to watch a light hearted TV show and read non-fiction that doesn’t wind me up. I have been doing Yoga in the evenings and that also seems to help. The breathing exercises are great!
For hard-core insomniacs, I would recommend an opposite approach:
Instead of winding down, try to mentally exhaust yourself to sleep with some challenging reading material, e.g., a math or physics textbook.
This approach can be used for both
(o) sleep-onset insomnia (you have trouble initially falling asleep)
(m) sleep-maintenance insomnia (for whatever reason you wake up at 3 a.m., plus or minus an hour, and then can’t fall asleep again).
Hmmm, perhaps I myself should be blogging on this topic…
Btw – on a lighter note – YouTube hosts multi-hour recordings of cat purring that ailurophiles may find helpful for chilling out late at night, e.g.: