Having trouble sleeping is a common issue for many people. In the United State, more than a third of adults do not get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are many factors that can contribute to sleeplessness, but you may fall asleep faster and get better rest at night when you follow a healthy bedtime routine.
This habit involves having a set of activities you do every night to help your mind and body relax and prepare for bed. You can follow a strict routine of set tasks 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed. By performing the same activities every night, your brain associates them with bedtime and signals for the release of hormones to make you sleepy. If you are looking for calming activities you can integrate into your nightly habit, here are some ideas you can try.
Prepare for Bedtime
To maintain your body’s sleep-wake cycle, your body goes through various hormonal changes throughout the day. One of them is melatonin production in the evening, which prepares your body for sleep. During the same time, your core body temperature falls. Replicating the nighttime drop in body temperature through a warm bath can trigger a sleepy feeling. When you take a warm bath, your body will heat up but it will also quickly cool down once the water on your skin evaporates. So, treat yourself with a warm bath about an hour before you go to sleep. You can also try adding lavender oil to the water to make your bath more relaxing.
Additionally, changing into sleepwear can help your body feel you are ready to go to bed. But make sure to choose your pajamas well. Aside from considering your fashion needs, you need to select comfortable sleepwear. Tight and uncomfortable shirts and pajamas can keep you fidgeting, which disturbs your sleep. For women, shop for women’s pajama tops and bottoms that are soft and cozy. Similarly, men should have comfy pajamas to help them sleep better.
Dedicate Time to Wind Down
You don’t have to wait until it’s your bedtime to wind down. You can perform calming activities to avoid overstimulating your mind and body such as reading a book, drawing, assembling puzzles, or doing crossword puzzles.
You can also meditate to relax mentally and physically. While any type of meditation can be helpful and healthy, practicing mindfulness meditation can help you release the day’s stress and tension. By concentrating on your breathing, you shift your focus from having busy thoughts to relaxing your mind. When you breathe slowly and deeply, it also signals your body to slow down.
If you have some challenges with meditating regularly, you can play soft and soothing music instead. While music can help you fall asleep faster, make sure to only listen to calming tunes. Putting on upbeat songs will energize you and wake up your senses, which is not the effect you want to achieve. To help you wind down, listen to slow instrumental music.
Disconnect from Your Gadgets
Catching your favorite shows or scrolling through social media apps may seem like relaxing activities. However, many electronic devices like televisions, computers, smartphones, and tablets emit blue light that tricks your brain into thinking that it’s daytime. When you use these devices, the blue light triggers wakefulness and suppresses the production of melatonin. Also, watching video or chatting with friends online can keep your brain active when it should be starting to calm down.
It’s best to avoid using your gadgets in the evening. When it’s time for bed, put your device on mute and keep your phone far away from you so you won’t be tempted to check for notifications. You can also switch on your phone’s red-light filter before you begin your nightly routine. This way, the light won’t be disruptive even if you look at your gadget.
Have a Light Snack
It’s not advisable to eat heavy meals or sugary snacks before going to bed because these can cause indigestion and prevent you from having a restful sleep. However, you shouldn’t go to bed hungry either as a rumbling tummy can keep you up at night. If you want to munch on something to keep hunger at bay, opt for a healthy light snack like some fruits, a handful of nuts, or a cup of yogurt. Eating cherries, grapes, strawberries, nuts, and oats are recommended due to their high melatonin content.
You can also have a cup of tea to help you relax. Just make sure to select non-caffeinated herbal teas such as chamomile or lavender. Having said that, it is best to limit your caffeine consumption to just until lunchtime. While having a cup of joe can help beat the midday slump, drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages like teas and sodas even six hours before your bedtime can give you trouble with falling asleep.
Set the Mood in the Bedroom
You need to include transforming your bedroom into a sleep oasis in your nightly routine. Create an environment that is conducive for sleep, starting with the lights in your room. Aside from turning off the overhead lights, switch on dimmer table lamps an hour before going to bed. You can also pull down blackout curtains or change bright lamp bulbs with those that produce amber light. Also, remember to keep your room cool so you can stay comfortable throughout the night by setting the thermostat between 60 to 71 degrees Fahrenheit.
To promote better sleep, you can try some aromatherapy. Scents like lavender and cedarwood are known to help people have a restful slumber. You can place a diffuser with your favorite essential oil in your bedroom or spray some on your pillow or beddings before bed.
Many individuals have trouble sleeping but some issues can easily be resolved by creating a good bedtime routine. Focus on doing activities that will help your mind and body relax. You can try any of the calming activities mentioned above and create a routine that will best work for you. Once you have established a nightly habit, you will notice improvements in your sleep.