Everyone needs between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. But data increasingly suggests that many Americans simply don't get enough shut-eye. In fact, many of us never get a full night's rest; instead, we go to bed too late, wake up too early, or find our sleep interrupted in the middle of slumber.
However, you can follow a strict nighttime routine and get a full night’s sleep more often than not. Nighttime routines are very helpful for individuals with stressful daily lives or who suffer from insomnia.
Let’s take a look at how you can set up a successful nighttime routine for yourself step-by-step.
Why Do Nighttime Routines Matter?
Simply put, because we are creatures of habit!
“Our bodies love habits. In fact, they create them and associated expectations automatically,” says Rachel Roff, Founder and CEO of Urban Skin Rx. “It’s the reason you get hungry around lunchtime at the same time each day.”
Similarly, our bodies become used to going to sleep and waking up at general times each evening and morning. If you have a nighttime routine that doesn’t prioritize enough sleep, you shouldn’t be surprised when you feel tired the following day.
But if you create a strong, healthy nighttime routine, you’ll find it much easier to go to sleep at the right time each evening and wake up at the right time each morning. It’s a very effective way to overcome the effects of minor insomnia or to calm your mind after a busy day at work.
So, how can you create a successful nighttime routine? Here are six things you can do to set up a routine that works for you.
Decide on a Time to Get in Bed
First, decide on a set time to get in bed every evening. “Whether that's 9 PM, 10 PM, or 11 PM, set the time to get in bed so you have about a half-hour to fall asleep before experiencing 7 to 8 hours of slumber,” says Bradley Hall, CEO of SONU Sleep.
For instance, if you need to get up at 6 AM, you should be in bed by 10:30 PM. That gives you a half-hour to fall asleep and, assuming you are asleep at 11, seven hours of deep rest.
Once you set a time to get in bed, commit to it! Don't cheat yourself out of restful and restorative sleep by staying up for 15 more minutes or a half-hour longer to finish a videogame session or a TV show.
Turn Off Screens an Hour Before Bed
Speaking of TV shows and video games, turn off all of your electronic screens about an hour before bed and do other activities. This includes devices like your smartphone!
Why does this matter? “Device screens emit blue light, which can trick our eyes and brains into thinking that the sun is rising,” says Michael Van, CEO of Furnishr. “This slows down melatonin production, and melatonin is the key hormone that makes your body feel sleepy when it’s time to rest.”
Turn off the screens and you’ll find yourself yawning sooner rather than later.
Turn the Thermostat Down
Our bodies sleep much more easily – and we get much better, deeper sleep – when the temperature is cool. Even if it’s winter, turn the thermostat down a few degrees so it’s 70° or lower when you sleep. If you get cold, you can always snuggle up with a blanket!
Have a Snack or Tea Before Sleep
Have problems with feeling hungry or thirsty in the middle of the night? Have a healthy snack and a glass of water or calming tea right before bed. Just be sure not to drink any caffeinated tea or to eat any snacks with excess sugar.
“If you eat a sugary snack before bed, you might find it even harder to go to sleep than before!” Juan Pablo Cappello, Co-Founder and CEO of Nue Life says. “Choose healthy, plain snacks instead.”
Listen to Calming Music or Read a Book
To really get your brain in the mood for slumber, try listening to calming music or reading a book. These activities can help you avoid the temptation to reach for your phone or watch TV while also slowing your mind’s processes down and gradually bringing it into a more restful state.
If you’re of a mind for it, consider trying meditation. Meditation involves focusing on your breathing, allowing your thoughts to wander, and relaxing your body. Meditation can be great at any time in the day, but many find it particularly helpful when they are trying to rest and relax before sleep.
While meditation can be tricky or seem useless at first, you’ll become better at it as you practice. “The benefits of meditation also become more noticeable the longer you do it,” says Fred Gerantabee, Chief Experience Officer at Readers.com, “and those benefits extend into every area of your life.
Stick to the Ritual You Choose
Above all else, you must stick to the nighttime routine or rituals you choose to implement. Like any positive habit, it takes a little bit of time for your body and mind to get used to the sequence. If you abandon your nighttime routine, all that progress could be wasted.
However, if you stick with a nighttime routine for several weeks, you’ll likely find that you have more energy during the day, that your sleep feels more restorative, and that the routine itself is easier to maintain as it goes on.
With that in mind, take plenty of time to come up with the perfect nighttime routine for your preferences and schedule. Then make a commitment to yourself to stick with it no matter what.
Overall, setting a steady nighttime routine will help you get more and higher quality sleep than you might be used to. It takes some effort to commit to, but setting up a nighttime routine is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and mental wellness. Try creating a nighttime routine of your very own tonight and remember to stick with it!
WRITTEN BYDaria Brown