You are getting very sleepy…okay maybe not and you need a little help getting to that place we call ‘Dreamland’. I can’t remember a time I fell asleep without a routine but it wasn’t always this way for me. A good night’s sleep can be hard to come by but creating a consistent, easy-to-maintain evening routine can help get one ‘Z‘ closer to a full night of Zzzs.
Is this really important?
Absolutely! My boyfriend used to make fun of me when I started my slumber routine each night (even when at his place) but over time he has adopted one himself. I say with confidence that nighttime routines can benefit everyone.
Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in the quality of life.The National Sleep Foundation
Most of us can benefit from improving at least one aspect of our sleep habit. If you’re waking up unrested each morning, wake up frequently during the night, feel tired during the day, or have trouble falling asleep at night, there’s a very good chance that you have bad sleep hygiene that’s messing with your sleep.
We have lots of ways we stay healthy in our daily lives but we often forget our sleep hygiene. If you wash your hands when they’re dirty, consume medicine when you’re sick, then you definitely owe yourself the same level of sleep hygiene. It is this nighttime routine that will help your mind and body recognize that it’s bedtime.
Bedtime rituals and nightly habits are collectively, these behaviors are known as sleep hygiene. Whether you practice good or bad sleep hygiene is up to you. But if you want to get a better night’s sleep, the answer often begins with improving your sleep hygiene.
1. Get your bed/room ready
This sounds like a simple one but sometimes we underestimate this step. Prepare your pillows in an arrangement you prefer. Put fresh sheets on the bed or spray some lavender scented oil to start the association process in your brain. Lavender is said to promote calmness and relaxation and soon, when you smell it, your mind will start associating it with winding down.
Most people don’t give much thought to the aesthetics of their snoozing space, but you’d be surprised how big of a difference it makes. Research shows that things like fresh sheets can easily make your slumbering experience better, and 71% of people surveyed said they sleep better when their sheets are clean. More importantly keep it dark, the darkness convinces your brain that it’s still night time.
2. Journal (even if only mentally)
If you’re like me, stress hits me right before bedtime! Your brain immediately starts zeroing in and mentally cataloging everything you have to do the next day—even though there’s nothing you can do about it in the moment.
Take a few minutes to pick out an outfit, plan what you want for breakfast, prepare your work bag, and loosely plan out your day. If you have to write a short to-do list of the things you need to accomplish before you head to the office. Don’t let more mindless TV zap your need to take a mental (or physical) account of your next day’s actions. Studies have shown that journaling reduces stress and helps boost your EQ. And don’t forget to write or think about a couple of things you did well that day and what a couple of things are that you can improve upon tomorrow.
Research shows that just six minutes of reading per day can reduce stress levels by 68%. It’s nice to unplug and read a good old fashioned paper book (or at least put on ‘Airplane mode’ while you do so it’s uninterrupted) and slip into a new state of mind. And if you have to read on a tablet, try to use one that doesn’t have blue light (which keeps you awake).
Did you know reading helps put your consciousness on another plane, which will induce sleep? Think about how children adore stories before bedtime…this helps them to get a great night’s sleep. What a pity it is that so many of us lose this habit as adults.
Other things to keep in mind
Among above, you can also
- Get your bedroom to the perfect temperature (the cooler the better).
- Make sure you have it quiet, or turn on your white noise machine if you need something playing over your thoughts.
- Have a snack. Some people sleep better if they have a small snack before bed, but you want to avoid large meals late at night.
- Limit other substances, too. Caffeine and alcohol both disrupt sleep. While alcohol may make you drowsy and induce sleep initially, it disrupts your sleep in the latter part of the night – preventing you from getting essential amounts of REM and deep sleep.
The right way to sleep is different for different people, and it may change for you over time. Keep doing them every night, but feel free to change them whenever needed.
This may seem like a lot to prepare for but it only takes about 20 minutes from start to slumber. By taking 20 minutes per evening to unwind, you’ll be setting yourself up for success every day.
Co-authored by Natali