Bedtime routines aren’t just for kids. In fact, sleep experts agree that a good bedtime routine is a key ingredient for consistently getting a good night’s sleep. In general, a good bedtime routine is one that relaxes the mind and body and prepares it for sleep. It also consists of a well thought out sleep environment (more on that below). Your activities during the day also affect your bedtime routine. For example, exercising in the morning is preferable to at night. If you exercise within a few hours of bed, your body will be in wake mode and not sleep mode as your bedtime approaches.
Stick to a schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time is crucial for maintaining your body’s internal clock, aka your circadian rhythm. Even on the weekends and your days off, your body prefers to be on a consistent schedule. Keeping a regular sleep and wake time will help your body regulate its production of hormones such as melatonin, which affect your circadian rhythm.
Create a sleep haven
Everything in your bedroom should be conducive to sleep. From your curtains to your bed to the temperature, it all plays a role. Your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in some blackout curtains and a white noise machine or a fan if you need to. Having a comfortable bed, pillows, sheets, and blankets will helps too.
Start a pre-bedtime ritual
So much of what delays our sleep or interferes with our quality of sleep has to do with our mentality. We lay in bed at night stressing about the day behind or ahead of us. By creating a relaxing bedtime routine, you will help your mind relax and prepare for sleep. Some examples are taking a hot bath, practicing 5 minutes of mindfulness, or reading a book. Try to start your bedtime ritual about one hour before you lie down.
Avoid certain food and drinks before bed
Caffeine should be avoided at least six hours prior to bedtime. This includes all sources of caffeine such as coffee, soda, and chocolate. If you want to play it on the safe side, it is also best to avoid foods such as spicy foods, foods with a lot of sugar, and foods high in fiber, as these foods either digest slowly or may provide an energy burst which can keep you awake. Try to avoid these at least one hour prior to bedtime.
Technology free zone
Blue light from cellphones, laptops, tablets, TVs, etc., can interfere with your melatonin production. Try to leave these items out of the bedroom completely, if possible. Or at least put them away one hour prior to bedtime. As mentioned above, reading a book under low, non-blue light, can be a good alternative to a TV or laptop in the bedroom.