Set a Bedtime Routine to Get Better Sleep

Clock in bed

Sleep experts know that our bodies prefer consistency. While it may sound boring, it’s also helpful to create a routine that encourages relaxation and rest. The systems of the body and mind can prepare for events, and automatically know when it’s time to wind down. This is crucial for setting a bed time for children, but it can help you get better sleep too.

We’re going to show you how to set up a regular schedule – for your sleep.

Determine Timing

How much sleep do you need? It varies from person to person. Kids usually need more rest than adults, but from age 18 on you should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep. If you already know what amount allows you to wake up rested and refreshed, that’s a great place to start. If you don’t, start keeping a journal. Note when you go to bed and wake up and how you feel.

Then, build in time for pre-sleep activities that help you wind down. Whether it’s 5 minutes of meditation or 30 minutes of reading, make sure you include it in your calculations because those things are important for setting a relaxing routine. Give yourself time to actually fall asleep as well. Now you know how much time you need; take the time you have to get up and subtract from there. That’s the time you should start your bedtime relaxation.

Get Started

If you don’t know what bedtime activities will relax you, now’s the time to start figuring that out. To get quality sleep, your brain and body should be relaxed. Give yourself an hour or two where you start this process. Of course, family and life will need your attention, but there are things you can do that help you take care of both. Here are a few things to try:

  • If this is the time you watch shows, put them on your TV instead of your phone or tablet. Bringing those devices to bed can make you stay up later, and the blue light is harmful to sleep.
  • When catching up on reading or paperwork, choose things that don’t require mental energy. Routine tasks and topics that don’t need a lot of thought are perfect here (sorting recycling, or reading a bedtime story to your kids). Don’t take them to bed – the more you do in bed that’s not sleeping, the more your body will expect to be awake instead of resting.
  • Try a hot bath or shower to relax your muscles and turn your brain off.
  • If you’ve got something on your mind, write it out. Keep a journal so you can dump all your emotions and worries from the day. Getting it all out can make sure it’s not running through your head when you’re ready to sleep.

Thirty Minute Timer

The 30 minutes before you want to start falling asleep are the most important for relaxation. Here is where you should start to unplug from everything. Turn off all your screens. Don’t eat or drink anything. Dim the lights – bright lights can make your body feel like it’s still time to be up.

You can do normal bedtime activities, like brushing your teeth or setting out clothes for the next day. Whatever actions you choose, they should be low energy habits you can keep every day. Getting into bed should be the very last thing you do. Then give yourself about 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re still awake, get out of bed and try again to unwind.

What Not to Do

Don’t go to bed with your stomach grumbling – but don’t eat too much either. A light snack should fill you enough so you’re not distracted, but not enough so that your body has to work hard to digest or hold off acid reflux. Think healthy here, like an apple, lean turkey, or Greek yogurt.

It’s probably pretty obvious that you should avoid caffeine later in the day, but alcohol can also cause you to have a bad night’s sleep. It might seem like it helps you relax, but then while you’re sleeping the quality of rest you get isn’t as good as it should be.

Quit smoking. Nicotine is linked to a lot of sleep issues. 

Create a Relaxing Bedroom

Your sleeping environment should be a calming, cozy place, with the bed as top priority Make sure the bed is comfortable with the right mattress, pillows, and bedding. Your bed also shouldn’t sag or squeak, so check the support to make sure it’s giving a firm base.

Try to block out light, but if you do need a light, it should be a warmer shade (use a salt lamp, or a lampshade on the red/orange/pink spectrum). Cover up noises that might startle you, either with some white noise or ear plugs. Use aromatherapy in calming scents like lavender or jasmine, and decorate in soothing shades.

Practice Makes Perfect

It may not be easy to set aside time, but being well rested is the foundation of a good day, as well as a healthy mind and body. Set an alarm on your phone or smart speaker to remind you that it’s time to wind down. You can use a calming song as a cue. Start getting on track by adjusting in 15-minute increments every night until you’re hit the point you need for the full routine.

Stick to it. You should try to do the same actions at the same time every day. This won’t always be possible, and you may need to adjust as circumstances change. But even on weekends, holidays, and vacations, keeping a routine is going to be less stress on your body. Besides, those are the times you want to be well rested so you can enjoy them!

Everyone’s sleep needs are different, so it may take some time to find what works for you. Once you do, it takes about 3 weeks to form a habit. You deserve time for relaxation and rest, and you’ll feel better too.

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