Wellness·4 min read

How to Clear Your Mind and Get Some Rest

How to Clear Your Mind and Get Some Rest
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Pexels
September 25, 2020

The Story

The moment you get into bed should feel like a sigh of relief, not a sigh of apprehension. If you’re struggling to get to sleep, your bedtime routine might need an overhaul.

What should I do differently?

It’s all about the wind down. Depending on your preferences, some of these tips might help you drift off...  

  • For when you’re 'quickly' catching up on Instagram…All likes and lights are not created equal. Bright light during the day is essential for good sleep, but blue light at night is the opposite. It tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, so you produce less melatonin. Here are some quick fixes. Download an app like f.lux to block blue light on your laptop. On your phone, switch to Dark Mode at night. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings>Display & Brightness>Dark Mode. But really, you should try to avoid looking at screens right before bed.

  • For when you still can’t get off your phone...Put. It. Down. The only real solution to less screen time is to, yup, look at your phone less. Because seeing your ex’s engagement picture will keep you up regardless of blue light. Keep your phone away from your bedside table. And put it on grayscale to make apps like Instagram less appealing. To do this in iOS, go to Settings>Accessibility>Display & Text Size>Color Filters. If you really want to trick yourself, use a productivity app like Forest that grows “trees” and kills them when you look at your phone. You might not feel that bad about losing sleep, but you will feel bad about killing digital trees. Trust.

  • For when you want to set the mood…Diffuse the tension. An essential oil diffuser might help you get into a more zen headspace. Oils like lavender and sage have benefits for relaxation and sleep. A diffuser is like a traffic control for your essential oils, letting them into your space in a steady stream...and sending you off onto a highway of sleep.

  • For when you wish your dreams took you to a beach vacation…What about a sleep vacation instead? Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep, but that can vary. One way to see how much sleep your body really needs is to take a sleep vacation. You’ll need two weeks where you don’t have to be somewhere at a specific time in the AM. So you can do this on actual vacation or try to schedule your meetings in the late morning or afternoon. Go to bed at the same time every night, turn off your alarm, and record the exact time you wake up in a journal. You’ll probably sleep later the first few days, since your body will be catching up. But eventually, a pattern should emerge. Then, moving forward, you can work backwards from what time you need to wake up to figure out what time to go to bed to get the sleep your body needs. 

  • For when you fell asleep during lectures in college...Recreate that snooze. Sleep with Me is a podcast that tells super boring stories in a monotone voice to help you fall asleep. Or try Get Sleepy or Sleep Whispers, which combine meditation and soothing storytelling to push you over the edge into dreamland. 

  • For when you need to block everything out…Put on a mask. Not THAT mask. A great sleep mask can help block out all light so that your circadian rhythm will kick in and tell your body it’s snooze time. Try one of these options to get started.

  • For when your mind is racing…Breathe in, breathe out. Breathing seems like an obvious tactic for relaxing and, well, staying alive. But the type of breathing you do can make a difference in your wind down.

Help me just breathe.

On it. Here are a few types to try out:

  • 4-7-8 Breathing…Exactly like it sounds. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat. 

  • Bhramari Pranayama...Aka humming bee breath, a type of yogi breathing to calm the nervous system. One way to practice is to place your thumbs on the cartilage that closes your ear and gently press. Place the rest of your fingers over your eyes. Inhale through your nose, and as you exhale, make a humming sound like a bee. Repeat. 

  • Box breathing...The type of breathing that’s repetitive. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and exhale through your mouth for four seconds. Repeat. 


Your bedtime routine is just as important as your morning routine. It'll help you sleep well, feel alert, and stay on top of things with both eyes open.

Subscribe to Skimm Well

Sign up here to receive our wellness newsletter filled with actionable advice, expert-vetted content, product recs, and more — delivered directly to your inbox.