The best thing you can do for your body is have a consistent bedtime almost every night. It will start to expect sleep at this time and you'll settle to sleep faster. If setting a timer helps, do it!
The length of your routine is entirely up to you. If you have a whole hour to devote, great; If you only have a half hour, or even less time, just make sure to choose an appropriate # of activities.
If you like baths, a soothing bath can really help relax you. Choose a bath salt or bubbles if you like, and listen to some calming music, or read a book or magazine.
To keep your skin from drying out, try using warm water instead of hot, and use a nice moisturizing lotion when you get out.
Whether you bathe or not, lotion can be a great way to give yourself a little at-home massage. Focus on areas where you carry tension- feet, shoulders, etc. Choose a calming scent like lavender.
You can make your routine effective by taking your time doing simple things like brushing your teeth, washing your face: turning these things into calming activities can make them more pleasurable.
Finish your routine in bed, in PJ's, doing something that doesn't require much energy- but try to avoid TV if you can. Falling asleep to TV will lead to a less-restful sleep cycle.
Reading can help you get drowsy, otherwise anything from peaceful music to gentle spoken word programs (like a podcast) can do the trick.
There are TONS of ambient sound apps for free in the App Store. Try a whole bunch of them until you find one you like. This one is called "deep calm".
Try this for the last 5 to 10 minutes of your routine (if your routine is very short, just try this for the last 1-2 mns): turn off the lights and just listen to your ambient sounds, meditate or pray.
Turning off your mind and forgetting about the stresses and thoughts of the day can be tricky, but if you can learn to do this, it can lead to greater inner peace.
Another trick: try using a recording that takes you through a guided relaxation- like at the end of yoga sessions (try to find them online or in the App Store) Focus on relaxing, nothing else!
Aromatherapy can be helpful- scents like chamomile can help you relax. Try finding candles or bed sheet "perfume" sprays. They can be expensive- look for sales at places like homegoods or tj maxx.
A way to help you track the time is with music playlists: use your iTunes to make one with music that gets gradually more relaxing, and make it the exact length of your routine.
Keep your routine consistent- do things in the same order every time. After a while, it will become second nature. If you get bored, change your activities or look for new music, sounds, etc.
The key to your best bedtime routine is patience and experimentation: it may take a while to find the perfect activities. Don't give up! If you'd like more ideas, let me know, I can add more steps!
- Bath salts
- Music player
- Book or magazine
- NOTE: all supplies are optional!