Relaxing Nighttime Techniques

Chris BakerChris BakerIf excessive thinking keeps you awake (experts call that beta chatter), Amit Sood suggests creating a nightly ritual for moving from day to evening. "This will help quiet your thoughts," he says.

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Take a nice, sleep-enhancing soak.
Experts suggest slipping into a warm tub an hour before going to bed. Soaking in the tub will raise your body temperature, says Mary Esther, M.D., a sleep-disorders specialist in Charlotte, North Carolina. This can improve your sleep quality by increasing deep sleep. Make the whole experience even more relaxing by adding skin-softening bath oil to the water, dimming the lights (darkness lulls the brain to sleep, too), or coating yourself with a lotion with a calming scent when you get out of the tub.
RS Pick: Origins Calm to Your Senses Lavender and Vanilla Body Smoother, $25, origins.com for locations.

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Brush your way to relaxation.
It feels wonderful when someone runs his fingers through your hair, but the simple act of brushing your own hair can put you in the same zone. "Repetitive movements like this evoke a relaxation response in your body," says Herbert Benson, M.D., director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston. "This can break the chain of stressful everyday thoughts that can keep you from fully calming down." Benson's research has also shown that regularly tapping into that relaxation response can help slow stress-related aging.
RS Pick: Sephora Brand Large Oval Boar Brush, $18, sephora.com.

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Chill with aromatherapy
Evidence has shown that certain essential oils, such as lavender, are relaxers. "Lavender has calming, soothing effects, so it's good to use at bedtime," says Rachel Herz, Ph.D., author of The Scent of Desire (Harper Perennial, $14). Rub a balm with lavender oil onto your body's pulse points (located at the base of your neck, inside your wrists, and on your temples) before you get under the covers. The warmth of the skin in these areas can enhance the scent, which envelops you while you sleep
RS Pick: Bath and Body Works Sound Sleep Instant Aromatherapy Roll-On, $10, bathandbodyworks.com.

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