Bedtime routines are no longer just for beauty tips. If you have trouble sleeping at night, you can follow a few steps before hitting the hay that may help you fall asleep faster and have better quality sleep. You might not notice a difference right away, but sticking to a routine of healthy sleep habits could improve your health and help you wake up feeling more refreshed.
1. Set an Alarm
Most people set an alarm for when to wake up; however, that alarm is not the one we recommend setting for better sleep. Instead, set an alarm for when to begin your bedtime winddown. The alarm can help you maintain a consistent sleep schedule and eventually cue your brain to expect sleep shortly after the winddown alarm. The recommended amount of time to wind down before sleeping is one to two hours.
2. Start with a Relaxing Activity
To start your routine, do something you enjoy that helps your brain relax after the day’s events. This could be playing games with family, listening to a music playlist, doodling, or knitting as just a few examples. Some watch television as their relaxing activity; however, it can impact your sleep if watched too close to when you plan to sleep or if watched from too close of a distance. To avoid the impact of bright light on your circadian rhythm, low-light activities are a safer option.
3. Disconnect from Electronics
Your electronics should be turned off or left alone for the rest of the evening at least a half-hour before you plan to sleep, preferably an hour. Handheld devices particularly are a problem since they are held closer to the face, concentrating the bright light that can trick your brain into thinking it is daytime. Electronics to refrain from using at bedtime include cellphones, tablets, laptops, and anything producing bright light. This is also a good time to dim lights or turn them off completely.
4. Write Down Your Thoughts
If you find your mind racing with plans for the next day, or going over the interactions and events that took place during this one, writing those thoughts down can not only help you fall asleep, but also helps you to process and remember those thoughts. Journaling or writing a to-do list are just a couple of ways to combat racing thoughts so that your mind does not stay awake trying to remember or think them through. By writing your thoughts down, you can easily revisit anything important in the morning. This is beneficial to problem-solving since you can take a look with a refreshed mind and even a new perspective. Often racing thoughts can be a symptom of Insomnia. If you see a pattern in the thoughts that keep you awake, the journal could even be a useful tool to bring to a CBT-I therapist, who can help those with Insomnia work through sleep problems and habits.
5. Turn Down the Temperature
Our last suggestion for your bedtime routine is to adjust the thermostat. You may have heard someone say they prefer to sleep cold or prefer the cold side of a pillow. It turns out there is a reason why that could be an answer to falling asleep easier. A room temperature of around 65°F (18.3°C) is said to be optimal for good nighttime sleep by multiple studies¹. Another study shows that sleeping in hotter temperatures can disrupt sleep². The reason temperature so greatly affects the ability to fall asleep is because body temperature naturally lowers around 2°F lower than your daytime temperature when getting ready to sleep. Cooling down before that process naturally starts can help convince your body that you are ready to fall asleep sooner.
Hopefully putting our tips to practice in your nightly routine helps you fall asleep easier and have a more restful night’s sleep. If you often experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, feel unrefreshed when you wake up, or have other sleep difficulties, there may be an underlying issue to address. Discuss your sleep symptoms with a physician to see if you might have a sleep disorder. At Advantage Sleep Centers, we test for sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea and Periodic Limb Movement disorder. We also have a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) treatment for patients with chronic Insomnia. To contact us about a study or learn more about our services, follow the links below or call 856-95-SLEEP (856-95-7337).