Mind-Body Health

Evening Practices to Prepare for Sleep

Evening Practices to Prepare for Sleep
The evening is a time to prioritize grounding and inviting our focus and energy inward. It can feel hard to transition from a busy and stimulating day into the evening hours. This energy is often carried with us into the nighttime, affecting our sleep and ability to relax and restore. The yin energy of the evening invites us to spend time in quiet, connecting with ourselves and releasing and grounding the energy and mental noise we have accumulated throughout the day.

When we don’t properly prime our system and prepare the body during the night hours, it becomes difficult to get a full and proper night of sleep. This is why creating an intentional evening practice can be a powerful way to spend time connecting with yourself and preparing for rest. Here are some ideas to incorporate in your evening to leave you feeling restored and ready for a full night’s rest.

Create an Ambient Environment

Our space can have a profound impact on our mental landscape. Curating our environment intentionally is a great way to communicate to our system that it is time for rest. Try setting the tone in your home or bedroom before bed to soothe the senses and prepare your body for sleep.

  • Space: Start with cleaning and decluttering your space. Our external environment influences our internal environment; thus, a clean and organized living space can help us feel calm, relaxed, and ready to transition out of the day.
  • Lighting: In the evening, prioritize warm and dim lighting. Replace your bedroom bulbs with Edison bulbs or light candles. Keep your space dimly lit and avoid looking at screens to limit blue light exposure. Studies show that blue light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that makes us drowsy. Steer clear of scrolling and watching TV before bed and instead try reading or writing to wind down.
  • Scent: Light your favorite candle, soothing incense, or diffuse lavender, ylang-ylang, or chamomile. Infuse your space with relaxing and inviting smells that make the evening feel more relaxing and inviting.
  • Music: Music is a powerful way to influence our energy. Steer clear of fast, hectic, or high-energy music in the evening. Instead, play music that invokes a sense of calm, like piano music, instrumental songs, flute music, or singing bowls.

Yin and Restorative Yoga

Yin and restorative yoga are styles of yoga that involve long, static holds which are deeply breath-focused. These styles of yoga are deeply meditative and help to soothe the mind and body. Practicing yin or restorative yoga before bed can help ease any excess mental energy and relax and prepare the body for sleep. Once you have a soothing environment set, roll out your mat and try this evening yin sequence for sleep.

Slow and Cooling Pranayama

Excess Pitta or heat in the body can cause an overactive mind and make it difficult to relax after a long day. Prioritizing cooling down the system can help balance excess pitta and soothe the mind. Certain pranayama techniques are highly cooling and wonderful to incorporate into your evening routine. Sheetali is a style of pranayama known to balance Pitta and bring peace and harmony to the mind. To practice Sheetali:

1. Find a comfortable position.
2. Stick out your tongue and roll the lateral edges upward, creating a straw-like effect with the tongue, and inhale.
3. Close the mouth at the top and hold your breath for a few moments before exhaling out of the nostrils.
4. Stick out your tongue and repeat this pattern for a few minutes or until you feel complete.

Drink a Warm Beverage

Excess Vata is another reason why relaxing and falling asleep may feel challenging. Vata requires grounding and warming practices that relax its quick and scattered energy. Mindfully sipping a warm beverage before bed is an excellent and meditative way to ground our energy. Brew a calming tea such as lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, or simply sip slowly on some warm milk or water to calm and ground the senses before transitioning to sleep.

Find support for restful sleep with Pranayama for Sleep, a four-part series with Dr. Amit Anand, available now in the Chopra App.