Creating a bedtime routine that works for you is important. If you ever find yourself tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep, and staring at your phone, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with falling and staying asleep. There are various reasons for this, like stress, drinking caffeine too late, medications, or sleep disorders.
Sleep isn’t like flipping a switch; it’s more like a gradual descent. You can’t expect to doze off instantly when you hit the pillow.
Your body needs a little help getting there. That’s where a bedtime routine comes in. It’s like a signal to your body that it’s time to relax and prepare for sleep. Even when you’re just getting ready for bed, like changing into your pajamas, your body starts this winding-down process.
There’s no one-size-fits-all bedtime routine. What matters most is finding calming activities and habits that suit your schedule and lifestyle. Whether you have a whole hour or just 15 minutes, it can work. What’s crucial is doing it at roughly the same time every day, as this helps regulate your body’s internal clock.
Here are some bedtime routine ideas recommended by sleep experts to help you get better sleep.
Two to three hours before bed
To prepare for a good night’s sleep, it’s essential to make some adjustments a few hours before bedtime. You should steer clear of heavy meals, alcohol, and smoking within two hours of your desired sleep time. Avoid spicy and sugary foods roughly three hours before bedtime.
Consuming these types of food can raise your body temperature and keep your metabolism active, which isn’t ideal for sleep. As for caffeine, it’s best to cut it out well before bedtime, around eight hours ahead, says sleep expert Shelby Harris.
So, if your goal is to fall asleep around 11 p.m., it’s a good idea to limit your food and alcohol intake between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. If you happen to get hungry later, you can have a light snack closer to bedtime.
One hour before bed
Around an hour before you plan to go to bed, it’s a good idea to start winding down and preparing your environment for sleep. Here’s what you can do:
– Begin to turn off or dim the lights in your house and bedroom.
– Draw the blinds in your bedroom to block out any external light.
– If your room remains bright, consider using blackout curtains or an eye mask once you’re in bed.
– Adjust the room temperature to be a few degrees cooler, as this helps your body produce melatonin, a hormone that aids in sleep.
It’s also a good time to limit your use of electronic devices. Turn off or activate the “Do Not Disturb” mode on your devices to minimize distractions from notifications. Lower the screen brightness and use night mode if you’re still using tech before bed, but use it sparingly. You can organize apps you only use at night, like a library app or white noise app, in a separate folder on your phone’s home screen to avoid getting sidetracked.
If you have the time and inclination, a warm bath or shower can be a relaxing addition to your bedtime routine. Baths can help lower your body temperature, making you feel sleepier. Alternatively, a foot bath can also be a soothing part of your nighttime ritual.
15–30 minutes before bed
About 15 to 30 minutes before your intended bedtime, it’s time to further wind down and prepare for sleep. Here are some calming activities you can consider:
– If you’re in a noisy environment, turn on your white noise machine or app to create a peaceful atmosphere.
– A small snack that combines protein and carbohydrates, like a banana with peanut butter or Greek yogurt, can promote sleep. You can also enjoy a cup of decaffeinated tea.
– Engage in a calming activity such as stretching, meditation, reading, listening to relaxing podcasts or music, doing your skincare routine, or even crocheting. Avoid activities that are too stimulating or goal-oriented, like working on a project or playing an energizing video game.
– Journaling for a few minutes can help alleviate any remaining stress. Write down the details of your day on your phone, computer, or with pen and paper.
– Cuddling with your loved ones or pets can be comforting and calming.
– If you choose to use electronic devices, keep the brightness and volume low and limit your activities to 10 to 20 minutes.
– You don’t have to do your nighttime routine in bed. If you start feeling sleepy while doing your routine elsewhere, there’s no need to rush to bed. You can move to another room for a while and return to bed when you’re truly sleepy.
– It’s important not to force yourself to stay in bed if you’re not feeling sleepy. Move to another room to engage in a relaxing activity and return to bed when you’re naturally drowsy.
Remember, it’s okay if your bedtime routine isn’t perfect, and don’t feel guilty if you can’t always follow it to the letter. Adapt your routine to your needs and schedule, and view it as a way to treat yourself with a few moments of relaxation at the end of the day.
Creating a bedtime routine tailored to your needs and lifestyle is a crucial step toward achieving better sleep.
By gradually winding down and preparing your body for rest, you can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Remember that your routine doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’s okay to adapt it to your unique circumstances.
View your bedtime routine as a way to treat yourself to moments of relaxation at the end of the day, and prioritize your sleep for overall well-being. Sweet dreams!
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q1: Why is having a bedtime routine important for improving sleep?
A: Having a bedtime routine is important because it signals to your body that it’s time to relax and prepare for sleep. This gradual descent into slumber helps you fall asleep more easily and stay asleep throughout the night.
Q2: What are some common reasons for difficulty falling and staying asleep?
A: There are several reasons for sleep troubles, including stress, consuming caffeine or heavy meals too close to bedtime, medications, and sleep disorders. Identifying and addressing these issues can significantly improve your sleep quality.
Q3: Is there a one-size-fits-all bedtime routine?
A: No, there’s no universal bedtime routine that works for everyone. It’s essential to find calming activities and habits that suit your schedule and lifestyle. The key is to establish a consistent routine that you can follow at roughly the same time every day.
Q4: How far in advance should I avoid heavy meals, alcohol, and caffeine before bedtime?
A: To prepare for a good night’s sleep, it’s recommended to avoid heavy meals and alcohol within two hours of your desired sleep time and cut out caffeine about eight hours ahead.
Q5: What can I do to create a sleep-conducive environment an hour before bed?
A: Dim the lights, draw the blinds to block external light, adjust the room temperature to be slightly cooler, and limit the use of electronic devices. These steps help your body produce melatonin, a hormone that aids in sleep.
Q6: What calming activities are suitable 15-30 minutes before bed?
A: You can engage in activities like stretching, meditation, reading, listening to relaxing podcasts or music, doing your skincare routine, or even spending quality time with loved ones or pets. Avoid stimulating or goal-oriented activities.
Q7: What should I do if I can’t fall asleep after following my bedtime routine?
A: If you’re not feeling sleepy, there’s no need to force yourself to stay in bed. You can move to another room for a while and engage in a relaxing activity. Return to bed when you’re naturally drowsy.