Getting ready for bed doesn't have to mean the classic brush teeth, wash face, scroll through Instagram until the end of time (or your eyes finally close—whatever comes first) routine. For registered herbalist Rachelle Robinett, her before bed goal is to "calm down [her] nervous system as thoroughly as possible." And wouldn't that be ideal? Well it doesn't have to be a far off dream.
If you begin your nighttime routine when the sun begins to set and know the right herbs and oils that can help with sleep, with a few easy to manage swaps and additions, a sense of peace, calm, and relaxation before dozing off isn't too hard to achieve. Say buh-bye to doomscrolling anxiety and never ending mental to-do listing when your head hits the pillow because on the latest episode of the Well+Good YouTube series Plant-Based, Robinett takes you through a nighttime routine for optimal sleep and shares a recipe for a herbal hot chocolate nightcap that's filled with sleep-enhancing nervines.
- Rachelle Robinett, registered herbalist, educator, and founder of Supernatural
7 p.m.: As the sun sets
Dim the lights
To start, Robinett recommends beginning your nighttime routine when the sun begins to set. This gives you time to unwind after work or a busy day, and carves out space for you to really get into the calm and serene headspace that you need for a sound sleep.
Physically, having dinner around 7pm or sunset also gives your body time to digest your meal so you're not kept awake by stomach grumbling or indigestion.
Limit screen time
She suggests eating, dimming the lights, and either putting your phone and other screens away or putting on blue light glasses to limit the screen's harsh light in the early evening.
8 p.m.: After dinner
Take your melatonin
Contrary to popular belief (and many of our pre-existing habits), Robinett recommends taking your melatonin pill, tincture, or gummy right after dinner. Melatonin is great for a whole host of things from sleep to gastrointestinal support, and has so many helpful qualities that some even consider it "the first non-herbal adaptogen," says Robinett. Additionally, since melatonin usually takes about two hours to reach its full effect, it's good to give yourself a bit of time before bed to let it work its way into your system.
Take your fish oil
She also suggests taking your fish oil supplement at this time to help support your brain functioning and memory while you sleep. It's especially beneficial to take it after dinner because the food in your stomach can help with its absorption.
Go for a walk
Finally, Robinett says that taking a walk after dinner is helpful for digestion and so that your eyes, bodies, and brain can see the sun set and "see the natural darkness of the world around [which helps] to key in our hormones and our circadian rhythms that it's time to go to sleep."
9 p.m.: Before bed
Make an herbal hot chocolate nightcap
After taking your walk, Robinett suggests making a hot or cold nightcap that signals to your body that it's time to go to sleep. The best part is that her favorite one tastes just like hot chocolate! Below are the ingredients to mix together in any quantity you desire.
Oat milk or coconut milk
Rasa Calm Bend (brewed herbal blend)
Take your supplements
Robinett also has a host of pre-bed supplements that she likes to take for supreme slumbering. She suggests taking ashwagandha in a powder, capsule, or tincture, magnesium, L-tryptophan, L-theanine, or a stronger blend like Form Nutrition's ZZZZ's ($29) or Hush and Hush's MindYourMind ($55) if you want a deeper or longer sleep when you can sleep in in the morning.
Do your nighttime skin care routine
Now it's time to really take the day off. Robinett loves dry brushing with the Karmameju Ionic Body Brush ($75). Dry brush your skin on your arms, legs, torso and then on your chest "towards your heart to stimulate your lymph system and to help with water retention," she explains. After that, Robinett massages on the Rowse Summer Body Oil ($49) and does her nighttime skin, hair, and teeth routine. Having a routine like this is great because it gives you time to take care of yourself, but also is a habit that teaches your body what to expect and signals that the day is coming to a close.
10 p.m.: Bedtime
Turn off the lights
Right before getting into bed, Robinett suggests making your room cool and dark to prepare your space and find a temperature that is most comfortable for your body and environment.
Use your essential oils
Robinett recommends spritzing essential oils like lavender into your room and putting a drop on your wrists and on the tip of your nose. Lavender is a nervine, so when we inhale it or absorb through skin, it "will effect us like we've consumed it through a tea," Robinett says. The best part of certain scents is that if you associate them with a certain time of night they will also signal to your body that it's bedtime.
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