By Eric Stengle
Do you set aside time in the evenings to relax and unwind before you go to bed? Or are you the kind of person that tends to work, watch television, do chores, or mess around on your phone right up until you hit the hay?
Like many people, you may feel like there is not enough time in your day to set any aside to wind down. However, if you have trouble falling asleep at night, you will be pleased to learn that simply carving out some time for a regular, relaxing bedtime routine can work wonders.
A bedtime routine is one of the most beneficial sleep habits you can adopt, and it’s super easy to do. (1) All you need is a half-hour to an hour to slow down at the end of the day and switch to soothing activities that prepare your mind and body for sleep.
What you decide to do during your bedtime routine is up to you but try and keep things relaxed and peaceful. If you don’t know where to begin, we have some ideas below.
How Does a Bedtime Routine Help You Sleep?
There are a few ways that maintaining a regular bedtime routine can help you to sleep better at night including:
- Calming an overactive mind
- You can release all your worries and plans for the next day, so you aren’t thinking about it when you are trying to sleep
- Repeating a regular pattern of activities before bed trains your mind and body to be prepared for sleep once you get to bed
- You avoid overstimulating activities before bed and make relaxing choices instead
How Long Should a Bedtime Routine Be?
Your bedtime routine should be based on how much time you feel it takes for you to relax. Ultimately, setting aside at least 15 minutes to an hour is ideal.
What Activities Should You Include in a Bedtime Routine?
The most important thing is that you use this time to quiet down and relax. Bedtime routines will differ from person to person. Some people may find that one relaxing activity is enough, and others may want to try a combination.
Here are six ideas that you can include in your bedtime routine:
Avoid Electronic Devices
If you are like most people, myself included, you love your electronic devices. Unfortunately, TV’s, computers, tablets, and smartphones can all hurt your ability to fall asleep at night. As far as electronics go, it is best to avoid them for at least an hour before you go to bed at night.
Not only can using these devices be overly stimulating, but the blue light that is emitted from them tricks your internal clock into thinking it is still time to be awake. (2) If you feel like you absolutely must use an electronic device before bed, like to watch a relaxing ASMR video, try to dim the screen brightness and use a blue light filter.
Read a Book
You want your brain to associate your bed with only sleep and sex, so it is ideal to read in another room. Maybe sit in your favorite chair and have a relaxing drink while you read a chapter or two before making your way to bed. If you find that you are prone to falling asleep in your chair, there likely wouldn’t be any harm in settling into bed with a good book if you choose.
Listen to Music
Listening to music before bed can be a great way to relax. You will, however, want to avoid music that is too emotional or exciting. It may be best to opt for classical music without any lyrics. No headbanging!
There are many CDs and playlists on streaming platforms that play music designed to help you relax and sleep.
Write Down Your Reminders for the Next Day
It is not uncommon to lie awake in bed thinking about everything you need to accomplish the next day. This can become very stressful and keep you awake at night. If you write all your plans and worries out before you go to bed, they are more likely to keep out of your thoughts, allowing you to sleep. (3)
Spiritual Practice: Prayer, Meditation
Many people find that engaging in spiritual activities brings them peace of mind, which makes doing them before bed the perfect time. Whether you like to meditate, practice light yoga, read spiritual literature, or pray, it can all become a calming and integral part of your bedtime routine.
Lower the Temperature
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the optimal bedroom temperature for sleep is between 60- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit. Lower temperatures send a signal to the body that it is time to increase melatonin production. (Melatonin informs your body that it is time to sleep.) (4) If you aren’t comfortable keeping your home at these temperatures throughout the day, take the time to lower them before you get into bed.
When you create your bedtime routine, the most important rule to follow is that the activities are not overly stimulating and that you find them relaxing. To get the best results, practice your bedtime routine daily, and keep regular sleep and wake times- even on weekends.
A regular bedtime routine can work wonders for your sleep. However, it isn’t always enough. If you find it difficult to sleep well for multiple days at a time, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Family Sleep Diagnostics can help. If you are in the Hurst, Texas area, you can make an appointment online or give us a call at (972) 714-0011.
- National Sleep Foundation, Develop these five healthy nightly habits to ease into sleep, Sleep.org
- Harvard Medical School (2012), Blue light has a dark side. What is blue light? The effect blue light has on your sleep and more., Harvard Health Publishing
- Scullin, M. K. (2018), The effects of bedtime writing on difficulty falling asleep: A polysomnographic study comparing to-do lists and completed activity lists., The American Psychological Association
- National Sleep Foundation, The Ideal Temperature for Sleep, Sleep.org