Earlier this week, I posted a morning ritual for self love, and hopefully it helped get the juices flowing about how to optimize your morning routine to fill your day with empowerment and self love.
In order to make it all come full circle, though, wouldn’t it also be great to have a bedtime ritual that helps you shed any negative influences or energy from the day, dump frustrations, release what’s weighing on your mind, and set you up for empowering sleep so that you’re ready to roll the next day?
Well, let’s approach this process from a similar perspective as creating a morning ritual.
First and foremost, as a clinician, discussing sleep hygiene with patients was one of the most difficult things to get people to change, even though the payoff for it is massive.
All these people who have trouble sleeping are usually doing at least some things that are directly impairing their quality and duration of sleep. I won’t get into a long medical discussion here, because its been written about ad nauseam elsewhere, but you can google these and read more if you want.
Here’s my basic list of barebones stuff you absolutely need to pay attention to with a nighttime routine:
- Put all devices down at least 60 min before you want to be asleep. This isn’t just because of the blue light, its also because of the stimulatory nature of consuming digital content and all the ways it stresses us out, makes us feel bad about ourselves, or is full of anxiety-causing subjects, triggers, and noise. This includes phones, watches, tablets, computers, and TV. If you use a bluelight-canceling reader that is literally only a reader, then that might be okay, but stay away from reading on other digital devices, as its way too easy to ‘I’ll just check Facebook before I turn the lights out’ and then 45 min later you’re still there.
- Do something that symbolizes a break between your day and your night. This could be a simple stretching routine, reading an actual book, or breathing/meditating. Whatever you prefer. But it serves as a signal to your brain that from here on out, its all about sleep.
- Keep your bedroom clean. I feel like some people are going to be like ‘what? People don’t clean their rooms?’ but yeah, this is all about the energy of your bedroom. Clutter, dust, and disarray invite negative energy to hang out. Period.
- Keep your bedroom cool. If you already sleep in a cool/cold bedroom, you know exactly what I mean and why this is a game changer. If you don’t yet, try setting your thermostat down to like ~64-66F (or even lower if you can tolerate it) for a couple nights and just see how much difference it makes. Studies do show people who sleep in colder rooms sleep deeper.
- Sleep in a dark room. Turn digital clock faces away, put phone screens pointing downward, cover up any other little LED devices, and maybe even consider blackout curtains if you have bright lights coming in from the outside, or if your windows let in a lot of ambient light.
- Clean yourself. I’ve always been a nighttime shower-er and mostly because it physically and symbolically washes off the day, but even if you are a morning shower-er and nothing will make you change that, you can still perform a form of self-cleaning like washing in the sink or a basin your hands and feet, arms, neck, face, whatever and rubbing something purifying on your skin, like a favorite essential oil to signify you’re clean. Visualize rinsing away stress, negative thoughts, worries, or other things bugging you.
Some of the things listed might be already intuitive to you, but some may not. If you’re not doing all or most of those things and you’re having trouble sleeping, start with that list first, because no amount of other ritual will replace the fundamentals of preparing the body and mind for deep, restorative sleep.
Creating a Personal Empowering Bedtime Ritual
Let’s say you’re doing all or most of those things, though, and now you need to really turn bedtime and sleeping into something that works for you and gets you closer to your goals.
As I mentioned before, we want bedtime rituals to do these things, at a minimum:
- shed any negative influences or energy from the day
- dump frustrations
- release what’s weighing on your mind
- set you up for empowering sleep so that you’re ready to roll
Here are some things to consider adding, and, just like the morning ritual creation, pay attention to which of these, if any, jump out and speak to you as something you find appealing or appropriate for your situation:
This could be just showering or bathing, especially with herbs, essential oils, or soaps made for magickal or therapeutic purposes. It could also be symbolic like burning herbs or incense to cleanse your space before bed. You could also cleanse the energy of your bed or bedroom by spraying something like Florida water or an essential oil blend to uplift the energy and instill a clean energetic feeling to the area.
This includes letting go of thoughts, worries, tension, or other things that are going to occupy your mind as you fall asleep or even during sleep in the form of bad dreams, or waking in the middle of the night because you are anxious about something.
It might also be thinking through who or what you got upset or frustrated with during the day and writing it out, practicing forgiveness, or creating a plan for how you want to approach it or deal with it tomorrow. Whatever it is you choose is something that helps you relieve your mind of this particular thing so that it doesn’t feel obligated to chew on it all night.
Releasing could also be stretching, yoga, massage, or even orgasms, whether with a partner or yourself; those can all be forms of letting go of energy or tension you don’t want to keep holding onto.
Whereas our magickal morning ritual was all about finding and maintaining the right energy and self love to start the day, we don’t really want to build energy up right before we need to sleep. We can, however, redistribute energy that’s maybe too intense or too plentiful in order to calm our mind and body.
Things that calm and promote balance might include the aforementioned stretching, as long as its not overly strenuous or painful, aromatherapy with essential oils, drinking a non-caffeinated hot beverage (I’m a huge fan of tea), reading something non-digital, journaling/writing, spending time with a beloved pet(s), cuddling a partner, meditating, and so on.
There are probably dozens more things you could add to this list that are more specific to your life and situation, so think about what you typically do to calm down or wind down when you’re in need of it.
Now we get to the actual part about making sleep work for us.
What are your goals right now? Are there any projects or things you’re working on that you want to ensure are going to work out or be successful? Are you trying to make changes in your life or attitude? Are you trying to attract people or things to you?
Write those things down on a slip of paper.
Also write down anything else like “I will sleep soundly without waking,” or other similar action statements about specifically impacting your sleep quality/duration. Or, perhaps, that’s all you are really focused on here, and don’t really have any outside goals you want to wrap into this.
You can take those slips of paper and meditate on them each night before heading to sleep, breathing deeply, envisioning the successful outcome you want, then tuck those slips of paper under or into your pillow before you fall asleep.
You can also draw those statements out into sigils you meditate on.
You could write out positive affirmations that empower you, such as ‘I speak my truth, unafraid of standing up for myself.‘ Or maybe draw symbols, scenes, or sigils of those affirmation statements. State them out loud a few times, keep them by your bed, and/or place them under your pillow while you sleep.
The empowering piece here is the stuff we need to do to change our mindset from whatever we experienced during our day to what we want our next day to ideally be.
As we practice this act of envisioning and setting our expectations and intentions, we can create a conscious mind space of receptive, open, and abundant thinking.
Whatever elements of this ritual you ultimately settle on, its important that you honor the ‘ritual’ part of that. Which means, you do it consistently with the intent of affecting yourself and/or your life,