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3 tricks to fostering relaxation come bedtime

Stress. We all experience it—it’s just a matter of how much. With work, family, striving to be healthier and trying to have a social life on top of it all, well, life gets to be a whole lot of crazy daily balancing. The most important gift we can give ourselves to combat stress is a good night’s sleep, and that begins with relaxation. Here are three techniques to foster that elusive state. We hope it helps you shed some stress and, deep breath, relax.

Set the scene

The use of scent to soothe, relax and even medicate goes back more than 3,500 years, so there must be something to this ancient practice, right? According to modern medicine, yes. A study from the National Sleep Foundation found that the scent of lavender decreases heart rate and blood pressure.

The best way to benefit from scent at bedtime is through an essential oil diffuser. A wide variety of diffusers across price points are available today—but the most important thing is to buy high-quality oil to use with it, says sleep health educator Soda Kuczkowski, who founded Start with Sleep, a sleep wellness center on Hertel Avenue.

Banish blue light

We’ve all heard the admonitions to restrict screen time before bed because it inhibits the body from producing the sleep hormone melatonin, but how many actually comply? Unfortunately, even when cell phone night modes are activated, the spectrum light still gets through to the eyes, says Kuczkowski.

Blue-light blocking glasses now on the market help minimize the impact of nighttime screen use. “That way, you can still do something that you love to do by using a tool that still allows your body to naturally get to a state where it is prepared for bed,” says Kuczkowski.

Hit play

Rain hitting the roof, waves lapping onto the sandy shores or the crackling of a campfire are sounds that, for many people, inherently calm. Creating a soothing-sound environment may aid in relaxation before and during sleep. And consistent white noise can mask the sound pollution that can be distracting as you drift off.

A number of sound apps can be downloaded for free on any device. Popular ones include White Noise and Calm. You can also get small white noise machines, or Kuczkowski mentioned a newer product called SleepPhones, a soft headband that wraps around the head, allowing you to listen to your favorite white noise, audiobook or music.

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