a woman waking up restful

Best Bedtime Routines For Better Sleep

Sleep is very important – and we can’t just ignore that fact. The way you fall asleep, how good the quality of that sleep is, and the way you wake up often have a strong effect on how you will manage throughout the day. Rarely do we feel refreshed, rested and energized when we wake up, especially when it’s time for work or school. Eyelids half-shut, desperately looking for coffee or something to chew on. We’ve all been there – but that can change. It’s time to take a positive outlook on things and make changes to your sleeping habits. With a little practise and effort, you will always be ready to face another day with a good refill of energy and motivation.

But, how do we do that? Well, even the slightest changes in your habits before bedtime can mean a lot when you wake up. We are going to deal with some ways that you can improve the quality of your sleep, and conquer the following day successfully.

What do you need to do before bed?

Unplug

That’s right. Drop that phone, tablet, and close that laptop. You don’t need them before bed, nor are they healthy. Disconnect from work, stop checking your emails before bed and put your phone in a drawer. That also applies to social media and video games. Although they are a great pastime, you will not get enough rest if you do that immediately before bed.

The reason why gadgets are a big no-no before bed doesn’t only lie in the fact that they will keep your mind preoccupied long after you’re in bed. Computer, tablet and smartphone screens also emit blue light, which is a light that has a similar wavelength to sunlight, and suppresses the production of melatonin. Melatonin builds up in our system during the day and releases when we’re asleep – it’s the main cause of feeling sleepy. Therefore, exposure to screens with blue light can make you feel less sleepy, and consequently give you insomnia.

an image of a hand leaving a smartphone on a nightdesk

Bedtime snacks

We’ve mentioned several times that bedtimes snacks can affect the way you sleep. If you’re feeling hungry before going to bed, you need to keep it light. Avoid spicy food, high-protein food, fat, and junk food in general. All of these foods can make you feel restless. You will be tossing and turning because your metabolism will still be working on digesting your food, and you may even experience acid reflux or heartburn. All of these can affect sleep and you should avoid them at all cost. Of course, it goes without saying that alcohol, energy drinks and caffeinated drinks will kill all your will to sleep. If you’re a tea fan, jasmine tea or chamomile tea should be your top picks. As for snacks, try a light turkey sandwich, some oats (without dry fruit), or cherries.

Exercise

Exercise is good your your health, builds muscles and makes your metabolism stronger and more resistant. If you exercise regularly, you probably know that there’s nothing better than coming home to a warm shower, taking a bite to eat, relaxing for a bit before bed and then going to sleep. It’s not advisable to exercise right before bed. Your system will be filled with adrenaline, your muscles will be tense, and you won’t be able to relax long after that. If you’re on a tight schedule an exercise at least an hour or two before bed is advisable, because you need to give your body time to recuperate.

Environment

The room you sleep in plays a big factor in how you sleep. Firstly, you need to set the right temperature – if you’re sleeping in a room that’s too hot or cold, you will definitely be tossing and turning. Try essential oils, scented candles or sticks – some of the best relaxing scents are lavender, jasmine, lemon, bergamot and clary sage. Last but not least, make sure your bed is comfortable. Maybe you need a new pillow, or a mattress. If you’re sleeping in uncomfortable positions and have frequent headaches, back pain, stiffness in the neck and numbness in extremities, maybe it’s time to buy a new mattress or a pillow.

an image of a woman sleeping on a new pillow

Sleep schedule

All of these advice are for nothing if you don’t keep a regular sleep schedule – even on weekends. You can’t go to sleep one day at 1AM and the next at 9PM. You need to determine the right time when you should go to bed and get up. A general rule of thumb is to go to sleep seven and a half hours before you need to get up. However, there are other cool methods you can try. For example, there is an app called Sleep Calculator which determines the optimal time to wake up by calculating sleep cycles. For example if you need to get up at 8AM, the calculator says that you will get optimal sleep time if you fall asleep at these times: 10:45 PM, 12:15 AM, 1:45 AM, 3:15 AM, 4:45 AM, and 6:15 AM. The latter times are definitely going to be harder to manage… However, if it happens… scientifically, you should be able to wake up with more ease at that time, than any other.

Some of the best routines before bed

There are some methods that will help you to achieve a much better sleep quality.

Reading

Reading is one of the most relaxing things to do before bed. This is also what many successful people do before bed, too. What you read doesn’t have to have anything to do with your work. You can simply pick up on what you’re interested the most. Fiction, fantasy, and philosophy are all great examples for reading before bed. Just try not to read anything suspenseful – you don’t want to have nightmares, do you?

Introspection

Introspection is a great way to spend some time in solitude and reflect on your past activities. If you’re having trouble, you can even put it in writing. All of your problems are going to be much easier to solve if you pick them apart, and get a grasp on the core of it. It doesn’t only have to be problem-solving, though. A great way to keep a positive outlook on life is to take some time and write down what you’re grateful for that happened during the day.

Meditation

Meditation is also a great time to self-reflect and find peace before going to sleep. It doesn’t have to last long, and it’s a great exercise for breathing. This is the time you will use to quiet your mind, and stop thinking about everything. That way, anything that was annoying you or making you feel troubled during the day has gone through the window. Leave it there to stay until tomorrow, because the bed is not the place to deal with that.

an image of a woman meditating

Family

Spending time with family and close friends is a great way to unwind before going to sleep. We often get so caught up in our lives and work that we forget to interact with our closest family members. Take some time to talk to your significant other, play with children, talk about school, or take the dog out for a walk. Some hours spent before bed are probably times when everyone is at home. You can use that time to reconnect with everyone and stay up to date.

Stretch or yoga

Yoga and light stretching are great ways to relax your muscles and prepare for bed. Your body goes through a  lot of stress during the day. That’s why it’s best to do some mild exercises before you lie down. If you’re sitting most of the time at work, your back, hips and neck will be grateful if you do a 10-minute stretch. If you can, ask your partner or roommate to give you a light massage, and you can return the favor. All of these are great for sleeping as your muscles need their well-deserved rest, too.

a woman stretching herself

Don't forget - bed is for sleeping

If you’re having trouble falling asleep – don’t just lie in bed. Get up and do something other than staring at your computer or phone screen. You need to give it some time for sleepiness to hit you, and as soon as it does, go to bed. Because of that, don’t start some complicated activities. Reading, stretching and all of the above mentioned things can be easily interrupted, so you can go to sleep exactly when you feel you need to. Don’t compromise your sleep – because how you sleep affects how you cope with daily activities.

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