Sleep Hygiene: 10 Tips for a Soothing Bedtime Routine
What do we think of when we hear the term sleep hygiene? Sounds like a cleaning process and in a way it is. There are countless people having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and waking to feel unrested and reporting sleep of poor quality.
Here are 10 tips to get you ready to sleep soundly and help you feel rested by practising beneficial sleep hygiene:
- Don’t eat 3 hours before you go to bed– trust me on this one, I get it! I was a lover of midnight snacks, post-dinner treats and an overall great evening activity before bedtime. However, this has been one of the most important things that have allowed me to sleep soundly, incorporating this with intermittent fasting and you are making your gut and your mind happy!
- No screen time at least one hour before bed!!- did you gasp just there? Studies show an alarming number of people who are on their screens for work all day, watching their devices during dinner and scrolling on smartphones well into the night. Research shows that artificial lights that are keeping us more alert later are suppressing the release of melatonin, which helps us wind down, get tired and ready for bed. The bright lights and blue light are sending messages to our brain that it’s daytime thus we should be alert. Allowing for dim lighting when the sun goes down and even the use of red-light glasses can help your body naturally produce the melatonin it needs to help you fall fast asleep and is a vital step in a positive bedtime routine.
- Write a to–do list for tomorrow the day before– It has been proven by writing things down and giving ourselves tasks the day before can cause far less stress. The clear plan outlines what we need to focus for the next day. Writing it down can get it off our minds so we don’t spend our last time awake for the night pondering all the commitments and activities the new day will bring.
- Restful activities- both high mental activity and excess movement right before bed can affect your sleep. So maybe, skip the after-dinner gym sesh and opt for waking up earlier and doing an exercise in the morning as that’s when your cortisol is the highest- right after you wake up, your bedtime routine will thank you!
- Consume more of your recommended water intake earlier in the day- so you don’t feel the desire to wake up in the night busting to go to use the bathroom. While waking in the night to use the toilet can be a reason of other health reasons, drinking a lot of fluid before bed can make you wake during the night disrupting your REM sleep causing you to have a night of lower quality sleep. Try hydrating throughout the day and stopping at least one hour before you go to sleep.
- Avoid stimulants- caffeine, tea, chocolate, energy drinks or soft drinks shouldn’t be consumed into the evening. Opt for a herbal tea without caffeine or even warm water with lemon if you’re craving an evening drink.
- Consistent bedtime- I know it’s tempting to stay up late on the weekends, and I am all for a little flexibility but if you are trying to improve your sleep hygiene it is very beneficial to go to bed and wake at the same time. This helps your body get in a cyclical rhythm that is very beneficial. If you’re smooth sailing in your bedtime routine and want to adjust it on various days try to keep it within an hour of the day before. So, if you went to bed at 10:00 pm one night the next night go to sleep in between 9:30 pm and 11:00 pm – your body will thank you!
- Use your bedroom for only sleep- if you associate your bedroom with midday reading, eating your lunch in bed, or watching tv before you go to bed you may be subconsciously associating your bedroom with activities other than for sleeping. This ensures good sleep hygiene to help you stay on a consistent schedule. If you live in a studio apartment partitions or curtains can be a great way to enclose a sleeping area.
- Avoid naps– if possible. I mean there are instances like breastfeeding or being exhausted the odd time that can be beneficial to have a nap. But, if you are taking regular naps it can be throwing the neurotransmitters in your brain off and impeding your ability to go to bed in the evening.
- Lastly, baby steps!!!!- if a bedtime routine is something overwhelming try baby steps! Incorporating one thing at a time until it becomes a habit and then adding another element. Keep a journal, see what works for you and what doesn’t. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy bedtime routine, so make it your own!
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