There is nothing better than waking up refreshed and ready to go after a good sleep. All it takes is a little prep and planning.

Nightly rest helps our brain function, our immune system, it elevates our mood, and yes, sleep reduces stress.

When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The body’s functions are put on high alert which causes an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. Higher blood pressure increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes. The stress hormones also, unfortunately, make it harder for you to sleep.

After all, remember the last time you snapped at a family member? Maybe it was a day where nothing went right – you skipped exercise and had a hard time focusing on the simplest of tasks. It’s very likely that one-of-those-days was a result of one-0f-those-nights where you didn’t get a good night’s sleep.

A few simple steps

An Alarm
Some folks will actually set an alarm for about an hour before they go to bed. It’s a signal to them that it’s time to start winding down and get your mind off of your to-do list.

A Brain Dump
Another step is to do a “brain dump” before you slip under the sheets. It’s one of the most beneficial techniques for getting a good night’s rest, especially during busier times of the year.

To put it simply, a brain dump is taking all the distractions like what you are thinking about — or worrying about — those agitations that have us mulling over what you have to do or that our attention, and “dumping” it into a document. The preferred tool for brain dumping is a good old fashioned pen and paper.

Lights Out
The light from electronic screens can trick your mind and body into thinking it’s still light out and time to be awake. Try leaving technology out of your bedroom to help you shift into a calm, relaxed, and clear state. Pick up a book instead … and not on your Kindle!

Start a Routine
Begin developing a nighttime routine that sets you up for sleep. Wash and moisturize your face, then brush your teeth before settling in for the night. Taking time to establish and follow this important hygiene ritual will help you feel fresh and relaxed before bed and can signal to your brain that it’s time to calm down.

Your Environment Matters
Keeping regular hours and having a cool, dark, comfortable place to sleep is key as well. Maybe it’s time for a new pillow or mattress to get a better night’s rest.

Add Essential Oils to Your Routine
If you’ve never experienced sleeping with the aroma of a calming essential oil, you are missing the midnight boat to dreamland! Part of my nighttime routine includes filling my bedside diffuser and adding calming essential oils. My all-time favorite is lavender essential oil. There are times I will also add cedarwood or vetiver.

Essential oils can also be applied to the soles of your feet, your temples, your neck, and chest. Or they can be added to a spray bottle and spritzed over your pillows and bedding.

Calming aromas for sleep include:

Good sleep matters.

Since taking steps to make sure I get my rest, my productivity is better, I feel healthier and I’m less likely to be snippy when responding to loved ones. It doesn’t happen every night, but I definitely have many more good nights than restless nights.

Which of these steps to better rest will you try first? It may be a good idea to add each step that is new to you one at a time until you find the best way to enjoy a good night’s rest.