Magical Sleep Rituals to Lower Stress
9 min read
9 min read
Imagine this… each night when you sleep, your mind takes a magical mini vacation on a personal island paradise surrounded by soothing waves and secret revival rituals to restore your mind and body.
We will call this personal paradise Nodoff Island.
You have been to Nodoff Island many times, most will make the journey there every night. But your stay is not always wonderful. Maybe there was a lot of pre-sleep turbulence, maybe you couldn’t start to enjoy your trip because your thoughts drifted off to work, perhaps you simply didn’t stay long enough and felt like you just spent hours wandering a maze of frustration.
But every now and then (usually over the weekend) you have the most rejuvenating stay. You come back feeling like you just skinny-dipped in the fountain of youth.
If there was a surefire way to navigate your mind to this magical place every night, how much different would your day be? What if you had wonderful sleep every night, how much would your life improve? Could this nightly escape from reality awaken a cycle of positive benefits for your skin, mood, immunity, sex drive, energy, and motivation?
The answer is yes, but you already know this. You know that drained, lifeless look and brainless, daze that follows an unslept night. That heavy feeling of thick disorientating fog hanging on your words and thoughts all day.
You may try to clear the negative aspects of this drowsy state with coffee, but the spectrum of consequences for not sleeping extends far past what a propped up shaky caffeine rush can offer. The spectrum of sleep or no sleep reaches far in each direction and powerfully affects your overall health, well-being, and happiness.
On some nights, despite our searching we simply cannot find our way to Nodoff. But who or what is keeping us away?
The answer is a villain named stress. Stress is the main underlying reason you cannot easily fall and stay asleep.
Stress is one of those little big words that we are super familiar with but that’s actually a pretty broad idea with lots of tricky nuance. For example, consider good stress vs bad stress.
Good Stress: This happens when you are spending time making decisions and solving problems that will improve your life. Good stress gives us that little boost when we need it, then goes away. Delicious.
Bad Stress: This happens when you put your attention and energy into things you can’t change or control at that moment. Doing this before sleep is like pumping high performance nightmare fuel into your brain and that makes your journey to Nodoff very difficult. Bad stress is not only an anti-sleep aid, it’s also bad for your health.
The aftermath of not sleeping goes a bit further…
Bad Sleep begins a negative loop effect on your stress. Think of it like an out-of-control treadmill that is constantly speeding up. The stress that caused your lack of sleep gets the treadmill going…
Bad sleep will make your small problems feel like big problems… STRESS BUILDS.
Bad sleep will make you feel overwhelmed, and exhausted… STRESS BUILDS.
Bad sleep lowers your willpower, which leads to unhealthy eating… STRESS BUILDS.
Bad sleep kills your motivation and you start missing your workouts…. STRESS BUILDS.
Bad sleep will lower your immunity which makes you sick…. STRESS BUILDS.
Eventually you stumble on this out-of-control treadmill and awkwardly smack your face on the acceleration sending you flying off and landing as a hot messy pile of frustration. You must take a break and lick your wounds, do a five-day meditation retreat, find Jesus, etc…
Any amount of bad stress on your body will really start to show… accelerated aging, skin conditions, eye bags, weight fluctuation, and a lot of other damaging effects from this negative stress/sleep cycle.
Phew!… you get it right? If you don’t get your stress in check, your sleep will suffer. This begins the negative cycle and around and around you go until you fall off.
So what will be your friendly guide to lower stress and enjoy effortless trips to the magical island of Nodoff?
A personal end-of-the-day sleep ritual that prepares your mind and body for sleep each night.
The main idea in developing your personal sleep ritual is to have a series of consistent habits around the same time each day, which will send signals to your mind and body that it’s sleepy time.
It may come as a surprise, but not all of these rituals happen before bed!
Everyone will have a different ritual. Consider this list a selection of ideas that you can pick from to develop your own personal sleep ritual. If something on the list sounds silly, don’t force it.
However… there is one thing that all good sleep rituals will have in common: Consistency.
Consistency: This is the solid foundation for all sleep rituals. Consistency will develop the dependable groove your mind and body will slide into each night. Your body naturally seeks out patterns, it’s looking for a guiding rhythm. This is true for all things in the body. Your sleep and wake pattern is a 24-hour cycle called your “circadian rhythm”. You will be surprised how good it feels to put that rhythm back in sync.
Now, from here we will break this list of ritual components into three categories: Environment, Body, and Mind.
Combine this with getting lots of sunlight and bright indoor light during the day. These bright and dark light signals allow your body to know when it’s day and night, just like in nature.
Your body thinks that blue light is morning light which sends a cue to “wake up” and to not “fall asleep”. It’s also helpful to reduce the overall brightness of the screen.
Putting it on silent is not enough. Setting your phone to these modes will ensure that your phone shows no signs of incoming messages. No sounds, no lights, no buzzing, nothing… you may not remember the micro disturbances caused by vibrating phones or a sudden source of light in your bedroom, but they do have an impact on your quality of sleep.
Much like our trusted child-hood teddy bears, hugging it out with a pillow causes a sense of safety and security which can ease our resistance to sleep. Hugging releases Oxycontin which is sometimes called the “love” or “cuddle” hormone.
Additionally, doing this consistently creates a powerful cue that you are safe and it’s time to let go of your pesky consciousness for the night. One of those long, more firm body pillows works great.
This goes hand in hand with spooning a pillow. Combining the two effectively creates your very own private cuddle puddle. It feels amazing.
If this one sounds weird, you’ve never tried it. As soon as you put a pillow in between your legs (as a side-sleeper) you will feel a reduction of pressure on your hips, and an increase in comfort because your knees and pelvis will be in better alignment. This reduction in pressure will improve blood circulation which in turn reduces swelling and inflammation, leading to better recovery during sleep.
Probably the least popular suggestion for your ritual, but one of the most powerful ones. By banishing your TV, you reduce light exposure, you reduce sporadic noise, and you limit new information for your brain to play with.
Lastly, when we binge Netflix at the end of the day when our willpower is drained we are making a silly decision to trade restorative beauty sleep and all its benefits for cramming hours of a TV show into our brain.
But our desire for one more episode will usually beat out the better choice of an extra hour of sleep… so don’t even play the game. If you are serious about better sleep, no TV in the bedroom.
By associating work-related stress with your bedroom you reduce your association of the bedroom being a place to relax and sleep. You also increase the chances of doing work close to bedtime, which is another no-no.
A consistent repeating source of noise does two things: it masks other noises and melts away active thoughts. Masking other noises like a snoring partner, a house settling, or a distant dog barking will help prevent micro disturbances that pull you out of deep sleep or keep you from falling asleep in the first place.
Secondly, consistent noise helps to reduce the volume of active thoughts. These two benefits are solid steps towards a relaxed state to enter sleep. A good example would be the deep hum of a floor fan. There are also apps that produce white/black static, or peaceful soundscapes like a nighttime forest.
A cold room causes us to fall asleep faster and stay asleep better, but also has a direct relationship to anti-aging. As we sleep, our body naturally wants to drop its temperature and we can assist it by being in an environment that’s less than 70 degrees.
The bonus anti-aging effect is because our body releases more melatonin and other growth hormones in a colder environment. These are important for sleep, but also for the ongoing repair that slows aging. The more of these hormones your body naturally releases, the younger you will look and feel.
This is a two-parter. First just being in a straight-up clean room that does not have dust and allergens in the air improves breathing, and breathing is great for a lot of things, including sleep.
Secondly, the process of cleaning and organizing your room can calm you because it is a simple series of actions that results in an outcome that is appealing to the eye. This organizing process invites calmness for some, but others don’t seem to appreciate it.
If you are on the side of “clean room, clean mind” you will never fully understand someone who can be at peace when their inner sanctuary is wrecked.
Lo-fi is a genre of music that stands for “low-fidelity” referencing the purposely reduced audio quality.
Lo-fi has signature imperfections like soft crackling in the background, tape hiss, and sometimes grainy distortions. It is likely the most chill music ever made. Here is a great song if you have never been introduced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMTeA59oOoM
Ahh yes, the great double-edged sword known as candles.
One time walking through the lobby of my apartment complex late at night I saw a girl standing there… in her underwear. I’m not kidding, this is 100% true. We made eye contact and there was this bizarre transference of mutual apology for both of us having to experience the situation. The raging fire alarms were calling the entire 12 floors of sleepy residents into the lobby to share in this experience with us.
Later I would learn that she had fallen asleep with several candles lit, that were knocked over by her cat. She did not wake up until there was a raging fire setting off sprinklers flooding a portion of the 3rd floor, and soaking her in the shame of forced public partial nudity, all because she didn’t blow those damn candles out.
Story time aside… candles are really great because they combine a physical ritual, with dimming light, and aromatherapy all at once. These all help unwind the body and mind as we prepare for sleep… please don’t forget to blow them out.
For many this nightly ritual calms the mind by checking a little box in the column of safety and security. Closing and locking your bedroom door is additional peace of mind, but doing so depends on your lifestyle and home setup.
At any time during the day working up a sweat creates a cascading flood of positive effects for your body and mind. One of these effects is releasing happy hormones that regulate stress and sleep hormones. This balance creates a more consistent sleep cycle…. Basically it’s much easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
This has the same effect as a traditional workout routine. One perk of Yoga is that it takes no equipment and you can even do a few simple poses in bed just before calling it a night.
Full-spectrum CBD has the amazing ability to turn your stress dials way down. Even a small amount will help your body and mind relax. For many, the “feeling” of CBD is hard to describe because it is more like “not feeling” stress. This absence of stress and resulting calmness makes falling asleep and reaching deeper levels of sustained sleep much easier.
If you want to experience just how relaxed CBD makes you feel, try Jupiter Organic Drops.
Herbal teas like Valerian, Passionflower, and Camomile have been used for centuries to prep for sleep and increase calmness. Make sure to look for all-natural and certified organic products when shopping for teas.
It’s common for people to add their CBD to tea for a special sleep potion. Although it is good to know that CBD is best absorbed under the tongue for a few seconds, before you swallow it. So if you do decide to straight drink it, you may want to separately take a little bit under the tongue as well for the max benefit.
I have more than a few friends that opt for a couple glasses of wine as their chosen sleep sedative. It may help with falling asleep, but there is a downside that completely ruins the benefit. The reason you fall asleep is because alcohol increases a chemical called adenosine in your brain… and sleep can be more easily induced.
However, this sleepy effect rapidly drops off over the course of a few hours which can cause you to wake up before you are truly rested. Perhaps even worse, alcohol also blocks the most restorative stage of sleep called REM. With less REM you wake up feeling like you hardly slept. So say no to booze before you snooze… sorry that was dumb lol.
Loading up your digestive track before laying horizontally and falling asleep is a recipe for sleep disruption. You may not remember the small disturbances from digestion or mild heartburn, but they will prevent the body from entering deeper stages of sleep.
However, for some, a small snack can be part of your sleep ritual. Just avoid full meals and anything with lots of sugar. That sugar hit throws your blood sugar out of whack and the ensuing chain reaction can prevent deep sleep or may even wake you up entirely.
When to end your caffeine intake for the day is different for everyone. Typical recommendations are in the 3-4 hour range, although some report that 6-8 hours are needed to completely come off the caffeine buzz.
Another set of rituals that fits well into our sleep rituals are what we do for bathing and nightly skincare. A warm bath or shower will raise your body temperature, and the resulting drop in body temperature can create a smooth journey to sleep. Combined with a nightly skincare ritual can increase the relaxing effect.
Sleeping completely naked allows your body to regulate its temperature under the covers better, prevents night time entanglement that can create minor sleep disturbances, and if you sleep with a partner it can increase skin to skin contact which unlocks all the magical benefits of physical touch. Being naked is great in general. Good to know that it helps you fall asleep faster, and stay asleep.
Having sex with your partner (or solo) releases a flood of chemicals and hormones like oxytocin, prolactin (in men), and estrogen (in women) along with a couple more. They all work together to decrease stress and will have a positive impact on falling asleep and traveling to those deeper stages of sleep.
This is almost like yoga, but less intense creativity was used for naming the moves:
Seated forward bend… or …Lord of the Dance Pose! Just hits a little different.
But that may be the magic of stretching, it’s the simplistic approach that makes it so useful. Since we know a relaxed mind will follow relaxed muscles, a few of those basic stretches you remember from 3rd-grade gym class will unwind the tenseness you are holding on to from the day.
This one is straight forward. Find yourself a mask that fits comfortably and totally blocks out light. This full blackout is a signal to your brain that it’s nighttime and you should sleep. It also prevents any ambient light from bouncing off your closed eyelids which can cause sleep disturbances throughout the night.
Ear plugs are like eye masks for your ears… that’s a stupid way to say it. But, being able to block out all the small noises throughout the night will reduce sleep disturbances. The best ones I have ever used are inexpensive silicone ones that completely cover your ear holes.
This is like counting sheep for adults. It works great when you are in bed with your eyes shut. Very easy to do.
In your mind, you start counting backwards from fifty. You breathe in on the first part of the number, and you breathe out on the second part of the number. It goes like this:
50- Breathe in “fif”… breathe out “ty”
49- Breathe in “forty”… breathe out “nine”
48- Breathe in “forty”… breathe out “eight”
47- Breathe in “forty”… breathe out “seven”
Putting your attention on this is enough for a lot of people to slip off into sleep before they even notice.
Doing meditation at night works like a stop-gap between the end of your working day, and your evening. You can intentionally induce a calm state through meditation.
Then, if you do not pick up any more work for the rest of the day, it acts as this nice mental transition so you can have a clear separation of work and non-working states of mind.
Meditation is a vast topic, and there are lots of ways to meditate, consider sampling a few to find the one that works for you.
The outcome of this practice is similar to meditation, as it creates space between you and worries, but it’s more tangible for some since it’s more of a logic process. You simply ask yourself if you have influence over what is concerning you.
If not, you accept that it is outside of your circle of control, and do not put further energy into it. See the next 2 ritual elements on journaling if your concerns are within your circle of control.
Writing briefly about your intentions and tasks for the next day will help reduce cognitive load and decrease your general worry. The best way to end your journaling is to write the positive things that happened during the day, no matter how simple.
Consider this your end of day work journal. It’s a simple list of where each project is at, and what will be addressed tomorrow. The act of physically writing this down on paper will help drop the active thoughts from your mind. As with all of these elements, the more consistent you are with this practice the more you will train your mind to consciously let go of what’s been written.
This is a deep relaxation technique that involves tensing and relaxing groups of muscles throughout the body, one set at a time. The general idea is that mental calmness follows physical calmness which can be achieved through this technique. Check out some tutorials on YouTube or download one of the many “progressive muscle relaxation” apps to get some insight on how to do these techniques.
Some us have a harder time understanding why this works, but it does work. You can use diffusers and humidifiers, or plants and flowers that give off aromas. The most common ones to relax and sleep better are lavender and chamomile.
For the ones that find it odd to believe that our sense of smell is going to play a part in how we feel… consider that our senses exist to inform our actions and state of mind. Smelling fire signals stress. Smelling fields of lavender signals peaceful surroundings and calmness. It really does work. Give it a try.
Doing work in a lowered mental state late in the day will not only charge up your active thoughts but also set you up for lower quality work that seems more difficult. Doing this before bedtime will create a lot of extra noise when it would be better to create a separation between your active working mind and your relaxed sleeping mind.
It’s questionable whether traditional news outlets provide more help or harm to us overall… just kidding, they are clearly toxic sources of information that prey on your fears to get you to watch. So while playing their shitty game at any time is a questionable use of your precious time, it’s definitely a horrible idea before bed.
New media, namely social media, is a much more disorganized version of the same thing, but includes the opinions of our family and friends. Social media does offer a ton of benefits, but it’s a bit of a grab bag and you never know what you are going to get.
Best bet is to avoid social media starting a few hours prior to sleep so that you don’t get any new information that spikes fear, worry or general concern. Honestly, this is common sense if you have ever seen your crushes’ new relationship status while you are laying in bed, or a relative’s daily and very emotional political rant.
Having a wonderful book waiting for you is great bed bait that will make you want to turn in a bit early and avoid television. An excellent book will pull you away from everyday thoughts and concerns of real life. Since it’s close to bedtime, your mind and body are already ready to wind down.
Combine this with the focus it takes to read each word with your eyes and process the meaning with your mind, it begins to tire many people out leading to an easy transition to sleep.
The answer is counter intuitive: Don’t just lay there and struggle for more than 10-20 mins. It is best to get up and do something from the above list.
It can be as simple as grabbing another dropper of CBD oil, reading a few more pages, or staring at the moon for a few minutes, being grateful that you are alive, and accepting one sleepless night isn’t so bad… but for the love of everything holy and unholy do not pick up any work, that can wait until tomorrow.
Below you will find a few nightly sleep rituals we have collected from our community.
7:00 – 8:30PM
8:30 – 9:30PM Before Sleep
3 hours before bed:
• I shower, do any grooming
• As a hairstylist & educator I prepare my hair kit for the following day.
30 mins before bed:
• I check out social media
• I set my alarm for the following day
• I shower, do any grooming
• I listen to either guided meditations, or sleep music clips from Youtube .
• I mostly sleep solely in my boxer briefs
• Depending on the weather I sleep either under a thicker cover or thin sheet.
I have a little journaling thing I do, but not every single night. I like to write things I want, but every other thing has to be something I already have.
Written by Tyler Turner
Tyler is Jupiter’s co-founder.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Valerie Hardoon, MD
Dr. Hardoon specializes in general medicine, psychology, and emergency medicine. Outside of the medical field, she gives back to the community by working with children as a reading tutor.
Ari Shechter, PhD. Elijah Wookhyun Kim, MS. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD. and Andrew J. Westwood, MD4. (Published online 2017 Oct 21) Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia
Pei-Yu Yang, Ka-Hou Ho, Hsi-Chung Chen, Meng-Yueh Chien (Published 2012) Exercise training improves sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults with sleep problems
(Created: August 18, 2008; Last Update: March 9, 2017) Insomnia: Relaxation techniques and sleeping habits
Rebecca B Costello, Cynthia V Lentino, Courtney C Boyd, Meghan L O’Connell, Cindy C Crawford, Meredith L Sprengel, and Patricia A Deuster (Published online 2014 Nov 7) The effectiveness of melatonin for promoting healthy sleep
Cibele Aparecida Crispim, Ioná Zalcman Zimberg, Bruno Gomes dos Reis, Rafael Marques Diniz, Sérgio Tufik, Marco Túlio de Mello (Published online 2011 Dec 15) Relationship between food intake and sleep pattern in healthy individuals
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2011, June 13). Sleepiness may impair the brain’s inhibitory control when viewing high-calorie foods.