Do you struggle to fall asleep at night? Do you wake up feeling groggy and tired in the morning? Your nighttime routine may be to blame. Establishing a consistent bedtime schedule can help your body and mind relax and prepare you for restful sleep.
The Better Sleep Council has tips to help you reimagine your nightly routine and set yourself up for a good night’s sleep!
Counting Down to Sleep
What does your nighttime routine look like? According to Better Sleep Council research, 81% of US adults take some steps to help them get a good night’s sleep. Establishing regular nightly habits can not only physically prepare you for sleep, but they can also help you get ready mentally.
Additionally, creating and maintaining a consistent bedtime process is beneficial for sleep; it establishes a predictable pattern of calming relaxation that signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and get ready for sleep.
A Few Hours Before Bed
When starting your nighttime regime, it’s important to wind down from the day’s activities. Leave work at the office, try to let go of the stressors throughout the day, and change into something a little more comfortable.
Avoid Caffeine & Alcohol
Be sure to avoid caffeine and alcohol a few hours before bed, as they can interfere with your sleep patterns. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep and interferes with your body’s natural cycle between light and deep sleep, causing you to wake up feeling groggy and tired. While alcohol can initially make you feel relaxed and sleepy, it has negative effects on the quality and duration of your sleep. It can increase how frequently you wake up throughout the night, disrupting your sleep and making it difficult to get the restorative sleep you need.
Skip the Intense Workouts
It’s also best to skip the intense workouts before bedtime. Vigorous exercises can raise your body temperature and heart rate and cause your body to release cortisol which can make it harder to fall asleep and potentially reduce the amount of sleep you get. Instead, opt for light exercises in the evening. Gentle stretching or yoga are great for loosening up your body and getting it ready for a good night’s sleep.
Prep for Tomorrow
Set yourself up for success and get ready for tomorrow by laying out your clothes, packing your gym bag, or checking off any last-minute items from your to-do list. This might sound similar to how you get your kids ready for bed, but having a nightly checklist for adults can be an extremely beneficial way to clear your mind and feel more prepared for the next day.
2 Hours Before Bed
As you get closer to bedtime, be sure to incorporate a little “me-time” into your nighttime routine to help you wind down and prepare for restful sleep.
Sip on Something
Our bodies lose moisture when we sleep and going to bed dehydrated can cause you to wake up throughout the night and disrupt your sleep, so it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Don’t drink too much water right before bed, but a small glass of water or a calming cup of chamomile tea should be just enough to quench your thirst.
Eat a Light Snack
Try to stay away from heavy meals and sugary treats too close to bedtime, as an aching stomach and indigestion can disrupt your sleep. But that doesn’t mean you need to go to bed hungry. If you need a little something to tide you over, try something light, like a handful of nuts and seeds. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium and tryptophan, which help to promote relaxation and sleep.
Take a Warm Bath
A warm bath can also help your muscles relax and your mind unwind. Add some lavender essential oil to the bath to enhance its soothing effects. Additionally, soaking in warm water raises your body temperature. When you get out of the bath, your body gradually cools down, triggering your brain to release melatonin, which helps you fall asleep faster and enjoy a more restful night’s sleep.
45 Minutes Before Bed
Now your nighttime routine moves into the bedroom, and you can prepare for sleep by changing into comfortable pajamas, dimming the lights, and turning down the bed.
Turn Off the Blue Light
Blue light from electronic devices can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep. Be sure to turn off any blue light-emitting devices before getting into bed, including your phone, tablet, and computer. If you like to keep your screens on, try turning on the “night shift” features that emit a softer, warmer light.
Including your self-care routine as a part of your nightly ritual not only helps make you feel more relaxed, but performing calming, mindful habits like washing your face or brushing your teeth at roughly the same time every night can help signal to your brain that it’s almost time for bed.
Set the Mood
Setting the mood for sleep by creating a comfortable sleeping environment is crucial for maintaining a healthy nighttime schedule. You can do this by adjusting the temperature, turning on a white noise machine, snuggling into clean, comfortable bedding, and using soothing aromatherapy scents like lavender and cedarwood to turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary.
15-30 Minutes Before Bed
You’re tucked into bed and feeling tired, but you’re not quite ready yet to close your eyes and sleep. That’s okay! There are other things you can do to keep your mind and body at ease before you start to count sheep.
Read a Book
Reading a book can help you relax and distract your mind from any worries or stressors. Non-fiction or dystopian sci-fi—whatever your genre of choice—just make sure that you’re not staying up too late reading one (or two, or three) more chapter(s).
Write in a Journal
Writing in a journal can also be a beneficial way to process your thoughts and emotions before bed—and it’s been shown to improve sleep! Reflect and share things you’re grateful for as you mentally wrap up the day and prepare for sleep.
Meditation or mindfulness practices can also help calm your mind and body. Try some simple breathing exercises or guided meditation to help you prepare for sleep. You can do them sitting up in bed or lying down. Often it’s the simple act of dedicated, mindful breathing that is most beneficial.
Reimagining your nighttime routine can benefit both the quality of your sleep and your overall well-being. By creating consistent habits, focused on relaxing and winding down, you can prepare your mind and body for a restful night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.