Be honest: Do you hurtle toward bedtime like an Acela train racing from New York to D.C.? If so, this crash-and-burn bedtime routine can really derail you from a good night’s sleep. In contrast, a relaxing nightly ritual can ease you toward sleep and help you get better sleep overall.
Here’s how you can get a better night’s sleep just by slowing down.
Routines: part of healthy living
Our bodies and minds like routines. These predictable rituals—from brushing our teeth twice a day, to eating meals at regular times, to celebrating important events on particular dates—not only keep us healthy, they also provide us with emotional and psychological stability.
Most of us engage in healthy morning routines that help us get ready for an active day. Yet when it comes to bedtime, we tend to have either very little routine, or we engage in habits that keep us running hard almost until the instant we go to bed. No wonder so many of us have trouble falling asleep!
Sleep experts agree that what you do in the last hour or two before your bedtime could make or break a good night’s sleep. Establishing a bedtime routine is the first step. Staying away from technology in the last hour or two before bed can also make a significant difference in your ability to wind down. Once you’ve got a get-to-sleep routine in place, maintain it as best you can throughout the week and on weekends.
Activities that can cause stress in any of its forms—anxiety, tension, excitement—tend to make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Typical examples include working on a computer, playing competitive games, having emotional conversations, and paying bills near bedtime. Remember, stress is a major sleep stealer. Eliminating late-night work and other agitating activities can help get rid of the root cause of your sleeplessness.
Routines for bedtime
A bedtime ritual can be anything you want it to be, as long as you do it each night. You’ll sleep better, feel better, and be a better person for your loved ones when you wake. Pamper yourself and remember, relaxation is the key.
A good bedtime routine is different for everybody. Some people read, some do crosswords or Sudoku, some listen to quiet music. An appealing ritual for many might include laying clothes out for the next day, taking a warm bath or shower, brushing teeth, listening to soft music or reading, all followed by lights out. Any quiet activities that you enjoy are fine to try as part of your bedtime routine. Meditation can have a powerful, positive impact on sleep, so consider including some simple meditation exercises to your nightly wind-down ritual.
Your pre-sleep ritual
Begin your ritual 60 minutes before your bedtime, and don’t rush through it. The idea is to let your body and mind wind down. Consider establishing your own routine, for the hour before you go to bed. Designate 20 minutes to finish up any must-do tasks, 20 minutes to wash up and get ready for bed, and finally, 20 minutes to climb into bed, relax, and slip into sleep. In this last hour before sleep, avoid checking email or voicemail, or engaging in any other activities that might bring about stress or worry.
You can use a couple of the S+ features on the app to help you wind down and prepare for bed. Our Relax Daytime feature is a great method to help you power down in the evenings. It will help you to focus your breathing and relax. When you’re ready to fall asleep, the Relax to Sleep feature can help. Relax to Sleep employs a low-brightness screen to avoid disrupting your sleep environment with unwanted light. This feature can help you to ease you into sleep swiftly and peacefully.
Once you find a routine that works for you, stick to it. Your body and mind will thank you with better overall sleep.