Are you concerned about your sleep? Maybe you're not getting enough sleep, or you're waking up multiple times during the night. Maybe you have a difficult time falling asleep, or you simply wake feeling groggy and exhausted. Sleep problems are common and affect about 20 million Americans each year.
Fortunately, there may be a fix that's simpler than you think. Developing a bedtime routine is an easy, holistic way to sleep better, fall asleep faster and wake up feeling refreshed.
What Is a Bedtime Routine?
A bedtime routine is a series of activities that a person executes just before bed. These methods can include things like gentle exercise, reading or meditation, and are designed to help the human brain wind down after a busy day.
Part of the reason that sleep routines are so effective is that they provide a space for the brain to relax and prepare for sleep. Sleep routines also cater to our bodies' natural need for consistency and can help you de-stress and relax on a nightly basis.
Creating Your Bedtime Routine
Creating your bedtime routine is all about finding a series of actions that works for you and sticking with it. Although there is no one-size-fits-all formula for an effective sleep routine, the following activities have been shown to produce relaxation and help ready the body for sleep. For best results, pick two or three of these activities and do them in the hour before you plan to fall asleep:
- Warm baths: Warm baths promote the relaxation of the body and mind and can be a fantastic way to prepare for sleep. To make the routine even more comforting, add a few drops of calming aromatherapy oil to the bath water.
- Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques include meditation and breathing exercises and are helpful for lowering anxiety and calming the mind before bed.
- Herbal tea: Many herbal teas, such as chamomile and peppermint, have a calming, relaxing effect on the body and can help facilitate a smooth transition into sleep. Have a cup of your favorite caffeine-free tea 30 minutes before bed.
- Reading: Reading is one of the most common bedtime activities. Reading a good book can help calm and quiet your mind. To get the most out of reading, avoid reading on your computer, phone or any device that emits artificial light (which affects melatonin production and tells the brain to stay awake). Instead, opt for a reading-specific tablet or a good old-fashioned paperback.
Bedtime Routine Takeaway
For adults interested in sleeping better and feeling more rested, developing a bedtime routine can be a great place to start. Remember, to make your routine as efficient as possible, pick two or three bedtime activities (tea and reading, for example) and stick to them. You should also remember to avoid sources of artificial light in the hour before bed.