How To Establish A Better Bedtime Routine
A good bedtime routine is important for a healthy lifestyle. It can help you sleep better and feel more energized the next day.
A bedtime routine is a series of habits that prepares the body and mind for sleep and should be personalized to suit your needs. Your routine can include reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath. It should take around 30 minutes to complete and it should be done at the same time every night.
Here are some steps that you can take to create your own bedtime routine:
Decide When you Should Go To Bed?
The first step toward establishing a good bedtime routine is deciding when you should go to bed. There are a couple of things to consider here. Your weekly routine is part of it, as is how much sleep you need per night. Let’s look at these things and discuss how you can use them to guide you toward a good bedtime for yourself.
Look at your weekly schedule. Is there a certain time you have to get up? Most of us have to go to work or get the kids to school. Start with when you know you have to leave the house. From there, think about how long it takes you to get ready. Are there any morning routines that will take additional time?
Do you have to get other people ready?
Fix breakfast for everyone?
Start a load of laundry before you leave the house?
Add all that time up and come up with an estimate of when you need to wake up to get it all done.
I’m calling this an estimate because if you don’t currently have a good routine and are winging it, your first guess might be off by a little. That’s okay. As long as you’re in the ballpark, it won’t be hard to make a few adjustments.
The next question is what do you do if your schedule changes from day to day, or what do you do about the weekends when you don’t have to be anywhere at a given time?
It’s a good question and the answer is simple. You want to get into the habit of waking up at the same time each day.
That means you want that time to be the earliest you have to get up during the week. If that means getting out of bed at six every morning, then that’s the time you want to pick. It may not sound like a lot of fun, especially if you’re struggling to get up that early right now, but there’s a reason for it. It will become routine and after a few weeks of getting up at six every day without fail, it will be easy.
Trust the process and give it a try.
Next, decide how many hours of sleep you need per night. Most people need between seven and nine hours. If you're not sure about the optimal number of hours of sleep you personally need, try starting with 8 hours and go from there.
Let’s stick with the six am wakeup example. To get eight hours of sleep, you need to fall asleep by ten pm at night. Since most of us can’t fall asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow, a good bedtime would be nine-thirty.
Now it’s your turn! What’s the earliest you need to get up? Subtract eight and a half hours from that time and make it your regular bedtime for a week or two.
How does that feel? If you consistently wake up well before your alarm, you may only need seven hours of sleep. If you still feel tired after establishing your new bedtime, you may want to try giving yourself an extra half an hour of sleep and see if you do better with that.
Above all, stick to going to bed and getting up at the same time each day - even on the weekend and when you’re on vacation. Your body and mind will thank you.
Simple Ways To Introduce Calm Into Your Evenings
Many of us struggle to fall asleep at night. We toss and turn, or pop supplements and pills before we can drift off. If you are having trouble falling asleep, or simply want to work on a better bedtime routine, here are some simple ways to introduce calm into your evenings. If your mind and body aren’t overstimulated, it’s easier and quicker to fall asleep at night.
Stop the Caffeine Early
Caffeine has a surprisingly long halftime, which means it stays in our system longer than we think. You may have built up a tolerance and tell yourself that you can drink coffee or caffeinated tea late in the day, but it will not help you fall asleep.
Most experts recommend you stop drinking caffeinated beverages between noon and two pm. Stick to that for a while and see if it helps you stay calm in the evenings and get sleepy around bedtime.
Turn Off The Screens
I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that screens like computers, televisions, and especially tablets and phones make it harder for you to fall asleep. The reason why is because the light they emanate mimics the sun and tricks our bodies into thinking it’s earlier in the day than it is. That in turn throws off our circadian rhythms. Phones and tablets are particularly bad because we hold them so close to our faces. I encourage you to turn off all screens for at least two hours before you go to bed. It will make a bigger difference than you think.
What about blue light blockers or filters? They will help and are better than nothing, but they will not help you establish a good bedtime routine.
It’s okay to not check your email until the morning. Give putting your phone to the side at night a try and see if you don’t start sleeping better.
Lower The Sounds And Lights
At the same time, it’s a good idea to start lowering the lights and anything you may be listening to. It even helps to lower your voice and invite your loved ones to do the same. Use softer light bulbs, and turn off any overhead lights. They also mimic the sun and can trick your body into thinking it’s still early in the day.
Now that we talked about everything you shouldn’t do during the hours before bedtime, let’s discuss a few things you can do that promote calm.
Reading a book is a good idea, as is sitting together in quiet conversation. Listen to some music or play a relaxing board game with your family. Or take this time for yourself and indulge in some self-care; light a candle, turn on some soothing music and meditate or write in a journal.
Spend some time unwinding and letting go of your busy day. After that, drifting off to sleep will be easy and natural.
Why You Should Ban Screens From Your Bedroom
You know it’s better to avoid using your phone or tablet in the hours before you go to bed. I hope you’re making strides towards putting your phone away at night, but I would like to suggest taking it a step further and banning all screens from your bedroom. Instead, make it a sanctuary designed for sleep and relaxation.
There are some very good reasons why you should keep screens out of your bedroom. First, let’s talk about what type of screens. The obvious one is a TV or computer. Unless there is no other way, keep them out of your bedroom.
If you need to have a computer in there because the bedroom is also your home office, power everything off and unplug it before bedtime. There will be no blinking lights or fans coming on that could disrupt your much-deserved rest. You also won’t be tempted to sneak one last check of email or to turn on the TV to catch up on your favorite TV show when you should be sleeping.
Of course, keeping your smartphone on your bedside table can cause much of the same problem. Even if you silence your phone, there’s a good chance it will blink or the screen will light up in the night. And if nothing else, you’ll be tempted to check what time it is or if you’ve gotten any messages if and when you wake up in the middle of the night.
Having your phone within arm’s reach makes it too tempting to turn it on. This in turn will not only flood your eyes with an intense light that mimics sunlight. It also gets your brain going when you see a few email subject lines or alerts on the screen. Both will make it much harder to fall back asleep.
What if you need your phone because you use it as an alarm clock? Simple. Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock and leave your phone in the kitchen or living room. It can charge there without you, trust me. One of the best things you can do for a better night's sleep is to stop looking at your phone an hour or two before bed. And don’t even think about replacing it with a tablet or e-reader.
One of the big problems with any type of screen is something I alluded to earlier. Screens put off a type of blue light that when it hits the back of your eyes, tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime instead of nighttime.
Filters and blue-light blocking glasses can help some, but it’s best to avoid using them late at night and definitely if you wake up in the middle of the night. Try it and see for yourself how much of a difference it makes.
Getting Comfy - Temperature, Touch, Sound & Scent
It’s time for bed and you’re ready to get comfy and drift off to sleep. The more conducive you can make your bed and your bedroom to sleeping, the easier it will be to rest and actually fall asleep.
Let’s talk about a few simple things you can do to create a better sleep environment.
One of the easiest things to change and improve for most of us is the temperature. It’s easier to sleep at cooler temperatures. Turn your central heat or air down a degree or two when you head to bed and make sure you’ve dressed appropriately.
Light pajamas when it’s warm and a blanket that will keep you warm enough, but not sweating in the middle of the night. If it’s cool outside, consider opening the windows for a bit before you go to bed to let some fresh air into the room, or consider sleeping with the window cracked open. There’s something about it that makes for a restful night.
Of course, you should ignore this advice if you have allergies and fresh air causes you to sneeze or gives you a stuffy nose.
Next, let’s think about touch. What makes you comfortable? Is it the sleek cool feel of satin sheets? The comfort of flannel and a heavy quilt on top of you? How about soft cotton that you can wrap up in? Find your perfect sheets and bedding.
Don’t forget about what you are wearing to bed. The clothes should be comfortable because when you are, it's easier to fall asleep and you’ll sleep deeper.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep because the slightest noise from outside alerts you or you can’t shut off your mind, give white noise a try. Turn on a fan, play some soft sounds, or try a bedtime meditation. There are plenty of options out there. The sound can be soothing and it will cover up anything going on outside that keeps you from drifting off to sleep.
Last but not least, there are calming scents that will help slow down your body and mind when it’s time to go to sleep. Light a scented candle for a little while or diffuse some oils. Lavender has long been a favorite at bedtime.
You can even create a fun linen spray by combining distilled water with a few drops of lavender oil. Spritz it on your sheets and your pillow before bed. The aroma will carry you off to dreamland in no time.
Don’t be afraid to play around with any of these suggestions. Come up with what works for you and create your very own bedtime routine.
Dealing With Stray Thoughts & Worries At Nighttime
Do you ever have one of those nights when you can’t turn your mind off and end up tossing and turning? We all have days and nights when our busy minds and worries keep us up. Thankfully there are some simple strategies you can employ to deal with them, leaving you to enjoy the remainder of your night in restful slumber. Let’s look at a few you can try whenever you need them.
If you had a rough day or are going through stressful times, it can help to distract yourself before bed. Read a good book. Watch a movie. Catch up on your favorite show, or play a video game in the hours before bed.
Remember that for the last hour or two, before you lay down, it’s best to avoid screens. Reading or listening to a podcast or some engaging music are great ways to distract yourself. Or how about a good conversation with a loved one, or some private time with your spouse? Get your mind off what’s worrying you and do what you can to leave it until the next morning.
Journal Before Bed
If you can’t quite distract yourself, it’s not a bad idea to face and acknowledge what’s worrying you. Take out a notebook and journal for a page or two. It will help you process whatever is going on in your life. And by writing it down and getting it all out before bed, can help clear your mind.
Journaling isn’t a quick pill fix. It can take some time to see the long-term benefits. Give it a few weeks and see if it’s something that works for you. Or maybe you’ll get lucky and one night of journaling is enough to calm that busy, anxious mind.
If journaling isn’t your thing, or it isn’t quite enough to help on its own, try meditating. Meditation at any time of the day is a great way to bring calm to your day and reduce stress. It’s particularly helpful right before bed.
It makes sense, doesn't it? If you’re anxious and worried when it’s time to go to sleep, meditating can help you shift into a calmer, more centered, and present state. Short, guided meditations are especially helpful for beginners. Find one online, plug in your earbuds and give it a try.
Keep A Notepad On Your Night Table
Last but not least, here’s something anyone can do. Go find a little notebook, a notepad, or a piece of scrap paper. Put it along with a pen or pencil on your nightstand. When your mind gets busy with all the things you need to do the next day, or something pops up that you don’t want to forget, write it down. It gives great peace of mind and may be just what you need to fall asleep.
Relax Your Body With A Warm Bath Or Gentle Stretches
The key to a good night's sleep is being able to relax in the hour or two before you climb into bed. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If your body is relaxed, your mind will follow.
There’s a lot you can do to relax at night. Read a good book, meditate. But two that are particularly helpful both physically and mentally are a warm bath and stretching. Let’s look at those and how you can include them in your bedtime routine.
How Stretching Helps You Sleep At Night
Doing some gentle stretches or a little relaxing yoga can be a great addition to your nighttime routine. The key here is gentle. This isn’t a workout. It’s part of relaxing and getting your body ready for sleep. Roll those shoulders, work out the kinks in your neck, and stretch those limbs.
You can find plenty of stretching and yoga videos online. While it’s usually a bad idea to use screens at night, you can use them for a few evenings until you get the routine down. Or, if you are familiar with the concepts and can do so safely, feel free to come up with something individual that works for you. After all, we don’t always carry tension in the same parts of our bodies each day.
Pay attention to how you feel when you get into bed after spending a few minutes stretching first. Does your body feel warmer? More relaxed? That’s what will make falling asleep much easier and you end up with better rest.
The Benefits Of A Warm Nighttime Bath (or Shower)
Another great habit to get into is taking a warm bath or shower at night. Not only does it feel good to be clean when you slip between the sheets, but it also helps relax your muscles, your body, and even your mind. You can even combine it with gentle stretches.
There’s an additional benefit that has to do with some of the processes inside our body as we transition from being awake to asleep. When you sleep, your body temperature lowers. This is closely connected with feeling sleepy. In your brain falling asleep and a drop in body temperature go together. Taking a warm bath taps into that connection and hacks it to your benefits.
Take a warm bath or shower an hour before you’re going to bed. Make sure it’s long enough to warm you up. A minimum of ten minutes is good. Then, as you lay in bed, that temperature slowly starts to drop, making you feel a little drowsy and ready to fall asleep. Give it a try. You’ll be sold.
Establish Your Nightly Routine & Stick To It
Human beings thrive on routine. If you are a parent, you know how true this is. And while most of us will do a good job setting and sticking to a routine for our kids, we don’t do as well for ourselves. It’s time to change that. Let’s talk about what you can do to establish a nightly routine and how you can stick to it until it becomes a habit.
It all starts with the decision to get a better night’s sleep. And you do it with a daily routine that includes getting into bed at the same time each day - including weekends. It also helps to get up roughly at the same time each morning.
Sleeping in a little when you get the chance is fine, but don’t make it more than an hour or two so you can still fall asleep at the appropriate time. That might sound hard at first, but the more you stick to your routine, the easier it will become. After a few weeks, it will become a habit. You’ll know you’re close when you start to wake up a few minutes before your alarm.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time are the cornerstones of your routine, but you don’t want to stop there. What you do in the hour or so before bed can make a big difference in how easy it is to fall asleep and how soundly you’ll sleep through the night. There is a lot you can do to set yourself up for a good night’s rest. A warm bath, reading a book, leaving your phone in the living room…
A bedtime routine is an important part of getting enough sleep and staying healthy. If you don't have one, it's worth considering making one up!
Take a moment to sketch out your ideal nighttime routine. Keep it simple and start small. What are two or three things you can do consistently before you go to bed at night? This could be brushing your teeth and washing your face. It could also be lighting a candle and reading or journaling for a few minutes right before bed. Or how about sipping a cup of herbal tea?
Write down our first take at a bedtime routine and try it out. How did it feel? What works for you, and what does not? It’s okay to make changes over time and tweak them as needed.
The only rules are to stick to your bedtime and to eventually land on a routine you can stick with until it becomes an automatic habit.
Once you’ve found your routine you should stick to it for a few months. After that, you can make the occasional exception. You’ll be surprised how much easier it will be to fall asleep with a good bedtime routine in place.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS!
Do you have a bedtime routine? How do you feel if your routine is interrupted or you miss a night? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!
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