Sleep is essential to our health. Yet, many adults report not getting enough sleep or suffering from sleep disruptions. Here are tips for a good bedtime routine to help you sleep better.
Benefits of A Good Bedtime Routine
Sleep deprivation not only wreaks havoc on your health, but it's also expensive. You lose productivity at work, take sick leave, and visit the doctor more often when you don't sleep well.
Related: Cough That Won't Go Away
An effective bedtime routine can help you achieve enough high-quality sleep. And when you get enough sleep, you gain many benefits, such as:
- Immune system boost
- Weight loss
- Mental wellbeing
- Increased fertility and sex drive
A bedtime routine will help calm your mind before bed. Over time, it slowly trains your mind and body to unwind when it's time for bed. In other words, the longer you stick to your nightly routine, the easier it'll be to fall asleep.
Develop Pro-Sleep Habits During the Day
Some sleep problems arise from daytime habits. By addressing these habits, you can pave the way for a great night's sleep.
- Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake. Caffeine may keep you up at night, even if you drink a cup of coffee long before bedtime. Alcohol, on the other hand, may induce drowsiness but can result in poor quality sleep.
- Don't eat too late. It's hard to fall asleep if your body is digesting a heavy meal. Avoid fatty or spicy meals late in the evening for better sleep.
- Exercise changes body temperature and energy use that may promote a good night's sleep. However, don't do strenuous exercise late at night because it can have the opposite effect.
- Spend time in the sun. Sunlight has a powerful impact on our internal clocks. Getting a healthy dose of natural light daily can help regulate your circadian rhythm. In turn, this may improve your sleep.
Create a Sleep-Inducing Bedroom
We often overlook the importance of our bedrooms when it comes to quality sleep. Your bedroom environment should maximize comfort while minimizing distractions.
- Start with a quality mattress and pillows. It should be comfortable to help you relax, but firm enough to support your spine.
- Bedsheets should maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the night and feel soft to the touch.
- Avoid light disruptions. Too much light can disrupt your circadian rhythm and sleep. Use blackout curtains or use a sleep mask to block any excess light.
- Eliminate noise. Wear earplugs for peace and quiet. Alternatively, drown out unwanted noises with a white noise machine or fan.
- Adjust the temperature based on your comfort level. According to the Sleep Foundation, making your bedroom a little cooler, between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 and 19.4 degrees Celsius), is best for optimum sleep.
- Introduce a pleasant aroma. A calming scent may help you relax and sleep better. One study found lavender essential oil increased the quality of sleep and reduced anxiety levels.
- Remove all non-essential electronic devices. Electronic devices such as computers and phones emit blue light that delays melatonin release, making it harder to fall asleep.
Related: Sleeping and Cough
Optimize Your Sleep Schedule
Keeping to a sleep schedule can help you fall asleep faster and get more high-quality sleep.
- Go to bed and wake-up at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you consistently wake up at the same time, your body will adjust to a routine.
- Schedule enough sleep. Like you would schedule meetings, make time for enough sleep, and stick to it. For example, if you have to wake up by 7 am, work backward and go to bed at 11 pm.
- Avoid daytime naps. Napping can throw off your sleep schedule and make it harder to fall asleep at night. If, however, you need a siesta, the best time is in the early afternoon, just after lunch, and don't nap more than 20 minutes.
- Adjust your schedule slowly. Make small adjustments to your routine over a couple of weeks to allow your body to get used to the changes. Aim for a maximum of 2 hours difference, and once your body has adjusted, you can change your sleep schedule by another 2 hours.
Craft a Bedtime Routine
Changing your pre-bedtime habits can contribute to better quality sleep. Try to be as consistent as possible with your nighttime routine because it will reinforce healthy habits that signal the brain when it's time for bed.
- Lower the lights before going to bed. Low lighting initiates melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that makes you sleepy.
- Wind down at least 30 minutes before you should fall asleep. Do relaxing exercises or light stretching, read a book, listen to music, take a calming bath or shower before going to bed to help soothe your body and calm your mind.
- Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts is a great way to destress and address any emotions you've held on to during the day. It can also help you remember any ideas you have before sleeping.
- Listen to a guided meditation. Meditating before bed increases melatonin and serotonin, as well as slowing your heart rate and decreasing your blood pressure.
Identify Sleep Disturbances
If you find yourself waking up frequently during the night or feeling tired during the day, something might disrupt your sleep.
Related: Cough At Night
To get to the bottom of your sleep problems, you can keep a sleep journal. After a few weeks, you might start noticing a pattern. Perhaps you experience fragmented sleep the night before a meeting or days when you don't exercise. It may also be helpful to include what you ate and drank during the day.
A good bedtime routine can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better. Most importantly, you don't have to incorporate all the steps to get the benefits. Start with small changes and stick to what works best for you.