You hear the importance of routines for many things in life: exercise, meal planning, family extracurriculars, work…. Humans are naturally creatures of habit.
Sleep is no exception to this. In fact, above all, a regular sleep routine is of utmost importance. We know that the quality and quantity of sleep strongly influences how we feel when we wake up, and how much energy we have throughout the day. Sleep also plays a vital role in physical and mental health. Studies have shown that regular, adequate sleep decreases your risk of chronic illness, like cardiovascular disease or hypertension, and helps regulate your mood which in turn helps regulate mental health and positive choices throughout the day (i.e. should I have an apple or a cupcake?).
Alright, getting more quality sleep sounds like a DREAM but it’s just not possible for me…
Creating a pre-bed ritual can help offset some minor sleep problems. Sleep routines help prepare your body for sleep, which can aid in falling asleep faster and staying asleep for longer. Your body craves regularity and consistency sticking with a sleep routine will help reset your circadian rhythm (a ~24-hr physiological processes of living beings - sleep, digestion, repair, etc) which in turn will help proliferate the positive sleep-benefit cycle. A bed-time routine can help neutralize some of the common circadian disrupters like LED lights, caffeine, time change, etc.
A pre-bed routine could look something like:
- Turning of the TV/ LED devices and dimming the lights 30-minutes or so before your bedtime
- Noting your tasks for the next day, or just journaling your thoughts of the day
- Turning on some peaceful music while:
- brushing your teeth
- reading an enjoyable calm book (i.e. not something that will make you think/ spark certain emotions)
- having a 5-10 minute session of meditation or gentle stretch session
- Hit the HAY
Other tips or habits that may be helpful for you to incorporate:
Go to bed and wake-up at the same time every day; even on weekends (or as close to it as possible on weekends!)
Avoid heavy or overly large meals before bed. Many find that having a stuffed stomach before bed leads to a restless night’s sleep.
Spend at least 15 minutes outdoors every day
Adjust your schedule so that you’re not doing an intense workout close to your bedtime
Minimize alcohol before bed
Keep your last caffeine to ~6-8 hours prior to your bedtime.
Make your room PITCH black
Here’s to ZZZZZZs.