As children, we grew up until a certain age being told when to go to bed. Not only were we told when to go to bed but also advised to settle down, maybe not eat before bed and be sure to brush your teeth. Now fast forward to adulthood, how many of you are reading this and maybe no longer have a routine, or don't stick to it. The following blog is going to identify some simple habits to help you create a kind and personalized sleep routine. Just like exercise we each will have components that work for us and some that do not. Be kind to yourself in the process and do not be afraid to maybe try something new.
What is a bedtime routine and why should we have one?
A bedtime routine is a list of activities that are performed around 60-90minutes before going to bed. These activities tend to be calming and soothing to create a clear head and relaxed vibe for the individual. By doing these activities the individual will start to form a habit that prepares the mind and body to know that it is bedtime.
In addition to preparing, a bedtime routine is acquired to reduce bedtime stress and anxiety through nighttime thoughts. As we slow down from our day we can start to have our mind drift to the next day or unsettling thoughts. Through these thoughts, we can get caught unable to relax and sleep and if unchecked or untreated have the potential of causing insomnia. By following a bedtime routine, you can keep your mind focused on other tasks and encourage yourself to relax instead. The routine will help your brain separate the day from the night, clear your mind and body of the day’s stresses, and relax into sleep.
What habits are good for your bedtime routine?
Below is a list of habits that can be taken to implement to your bedtime routine.
- Set a specific time for bed - Although this may seem impossible, having a time window for bed each day will create a routine for your mind and body.
- Leave electronics alone - Step away from social media and tv. Let your eyes relax and start to stop your mind from ticking.
- Have a bedtime tea (non-caffeinated) - Great bedtime teas can be found at local stores. These can help soothe our inside and mind (especially great in the winter months).
- Take a warm bath - Scientists have found that mimicking that nighttime drop in body temperature via a warm bath (Ref: https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/20.7.505) can trigger a similarly sleepy reaction. Consider taking a warm bath about an hour before you go to sleep. Your body will heat up from the water, and cool down quickly as the water evaporates, creating a sensation that makes you feel tired and relaxed.
- Listen to calming music or sounds - Soothe your mind with soft tones to your ears. The genre isn’t important, so long as the music relaxes you. Close your eyes, listen to the music and let it distract you from your worries and calm you down.
- Stretch - Calm your muscles throwing slow-flowing or static hold stretches. This should be smooth and not uncomfortable.
- Meditate - A regular meditation practice can improve your sleep quality. People who do Mindful meditation allow their thoughts and can manage emotions, enabling sleep onset, rather than stressing about not falling asleep (Also see April blog entry Meditation and Crossfit).
- Read a book - Through reading a book you will leave the thoughts of the day and start to declutter your mind.
- Journal your day - Many people find it restorative to journal, and by doing so in the evening lets them sort out their thoughts and feelings before going to bed.
- Set up your bedroom - A calm and uncluttered environment will help relax the mind and body. Also, consider lavender and scented candles when desired.
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