Too much stress can undermine a good night’s sleep. And poor sleep can lead to even more stress, which can lead to more trouble sleeping the next night, creating a vicious cycle. Over time, that pattern can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, depression, and even dental problems (thanks to clenching and grinding the teeth at night). So what can you do about it? Start by taking control of your stress, especially as bedtime draws near. Here are some ways to calm your mind and prepare for sleep.

Sample Some Calming Scents

Aromatherapy is one strategy that you can try. Simply breathing in the scent of lavender can instantly ease anxiety and help you feel calmer. Slather on some lavender-scented lotion, put essential oils in a diffuser, or put a few drops into the water that you use to wash your face in the evening.

Listen to Soothing Tunes

Music has a powerful ability to counteract the body’s stress response by slowing the pulse, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the amount of stress hormones that are being pumped out. While slow, classical tunes are relaxing for many people, traditional music isn’t the only path to relaxation. Nature sounds, like rippling water, might be even more effective.

Write in a Journal

If a racing mind is keeping you up at night, the answer could simply be getting it all out of your head. One tangible way to do that: Spill it onto paper. Write down what happened during the day, what’s on your mind—whatever feels right to you. Make it easy by keeping a pen and notebook on your nightstand. Need a little help getting started? Consider a journal with prompts to inspire your writing.

Do Some Yoga

Whether you take an hour out of your day to visit a studio and take a class or just pull out a yoga mat in your living room to do some quick poses before bed, yoga can be a great way to relax your body and your mind. From its gentle stretches to its vigorous flows, yoga incorporates breathing exercises and meditative practices that help to reverse anxiety and get you ready for slumber.

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